Anxiety Disorders: Types, Risk Factors, Diagnosis

What are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety is one’s body’s natural reaction to stress. Anxiety disorders are more complicated and involve excessive fear and nervousness. It is a type of neurotic condition in which a person experiences continuous anxiety about life circumstances, their appearance, and relationships with those around them. Staying in such a state for a long time creates uncomfortable living conditions.

Patients with anxiety disorder try to avoid social interactions, which can trigger their symptoms. Most often, these patients live relatively isolated, which limits their social circle. Social environment, personal life, and career can be affected.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults or 18.1% of the U.S. population (Facts and Statistics, 2021).

The primary and most common symptom of anxiety disorders is excessive fear or worry. Specific symptoms depend on the type of anxiety disorder the person has.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

There are several types of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, specific phobias, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, and separation anxiety disorder.

  • Generalized anxiety disorder accompanied by persistent, unrealistic worry, muscle tension, and sleep problems.
  • Panic disorder involves recurrent panic attacks. While experiencing a panic attack, the person might feel chest pain, rapid heart rate, sweating, shaking, or a feeling of choking.
  • Specific phobia is a fear of a specific object, activity, or object, for example, fear of flying, etc.
  • Agoraphobia is a fear of being in a place where it seems hard to escape. For example, you may feel anxious being in public transportation or enclosed areas.
  • Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, occurs when a person feels overwhelmed by social interactions. The constant fear and anxiety of being judged, embarrassed, ridiculed or looked down on.
  • Separation anxiety disorder is an excessive fear of being apart from close ones. A person with a separation anxiety disorder might feel constant worry about losing the person or worry that something terrible might happen to his loved ones.

Risk Factors and Causes

The exact causes of anxiety disorders are currently unknown; however, the combination of environmental and psychological factors might trigger the onset of anxiety disorder. Moreover, anxiety disorders run in families, which makes genetics also play a significant role. According to Gottschalk and Domschke (2017), GAD is a heritable condition with moderate genetic risk.

Anxiety Disorder Diagnosis and Treatment

Unfortunately, the majority of people do not seek help while experiencing mental health disorders.

One way to start and clarify the degree of disorder is to take an online screening provided by Mental Health America. One should note that online screenings are only meant to be a quick snapshot. If a person experiences mental illness, it is necessary to see a doctor.

If an anxiety disorder is diagnosed, a mental health professional can work on the most suitable treatment. The choice is influenced by the severity of the condition and the patient’s preferences and options. Treatment of anxiety disorders is a complex of methods based on individual cases and unique characteristics. There are many treatments to manage anxiety disorder symptoms, but the two most common treatments are psychotherapy and medications. If each of the methods of treatment separately did not give results, they can be combined.

Managing Symptoms and Self-Cope

There are many ways, which can help to cope with anxiety disorder symptoms and thus make the treatment more effective. Meditations, stress management techniques, and support groups can be quite valuable. It is highly recommended to consult with the doctor before starting any kind of treatment.


  1. Facts and Statistics: Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. (n.d.). Web.
  2. Gottschalk, M. G., & Domschke, K. (2017). Genetics of generalized anxiety disorder and related traits. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 19(2),159.
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