6 Key Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

by Jerry Kennard, Ph.D. Medical Reviewer

Specific phobia

Sometimes people fear a particular object or situation even though there is likely to be little or no danger resulting from them. Common examples include heights, spiders, snakes or flying but there are many more. A person who is phobic is likely to become extremely anxious if confronted by the thing that frightens them.

Social phobia

If people become excessively anxious when mixing with other people they may be suffering from social anxiety (phobia). The underpinning beliefs are that the person feels negatively judged or that they behave in ways that others find embarrassing.

Panic disorder

The most typical feature of panic disorder is the focus on physical symptoms. A panic event (attack) can come out of the blue and involves shortness of breath, dizziness, intense fear and a belief that you will die or lose control. The physical symptoms are so marked they are sometimes confused for a heart attack.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

If people feel anxious most of the time for long periods of time about a whole variety of issues, they are likely to be suffering from GAD.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

There are two components to OCD. The first are the thoughts (obsessions) that make them anxious and the second are the actions (compulsions) they feel must be carried out in order to prevent harm or make themselves feel better. To be diagnosed, your compulsions would need to be carried out in excess of an hour a day and you would experience a high level of distress by your actions.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

In PTSD memories of a traumatic event return without warning as flashbacks. For this to happen the person will either have been personally involved in a life-threatening or serious situation, or they will be witness to it. They will attempt to avoid any reminders of the situation and may become very vigilant to the point where other aspects of their life become far less important.

Jerry Kennard, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D.

Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s work background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.