The different types of anxiety

Your mind matters. Find out more about anxiety & where to turn if you need help & support

Anxiety is unfortunately a feeling that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. It’s the body’s normal, natural response to stress or danger. But for some, feeling worried, out of control and fearful is a feeling that never shifts. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives. Anxiety disorders are very common, with around one in six people experiencing symptoms each week. Anxiety can be experienced in lots of different ways.

Generalised anxiety disorder

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common anxiety disorder which affects up to five percent of the UK population. It’s a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious and have regular or uncontrollable worries about many different things in your life. Those with GAD feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed. They often wake up feeling worried and panicky and go to bed feeling the same way. It can affect people’s ability to work, travel, or even leave the house.

Psychological symptoms of GAD can cause changes to the way you think and feel about things leading to:

• Restlessness

• A sense of dread

• Feeling constantly ‘on edge’

• Difficulty concentrating

• Irritability

Physical GAD symptoms include:  

• Dizziness

• Tiredness

• A strong, fast or irregular heartbeat (heart palpitations)

• Muscle aches

• Trembling or shaking

• A dry mouth

• Excessive sweating

• Shortness of breath

• Feeling sick

• Headaches

Although feeling anxious at times is totally normal, chat to your GP if your anxiety is affecting your daily life or causing you distress.

Social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, is an intense fear or dread of social situations. We all feel nervous before a big event, but for someone with social anxiety, normal, everyday tasks leave them very anxious before, during and afterwards. The disorder affects everyday activities, self-confidence, relationships and work or school life. Those with social phobia may:

• Find it difficult to do things when others are watching, such as eating or speaking

• Worry that other people will notice or judge them

• Fear criticism, avoid eye contact or have low self-esteem

• Have panic attacks when in a situation that makes them feel anxious 

• Dread and avoid everyday activities, such as meeting strangers, starting conversations, speaking on the phone, working or shopping

Panic disorder

Those with a panic disorder have regular, sudden panic attacks that feel intense and frightening. Often they happen for no apparent reason. Panic attack symptoms can include:

• An overwhelming sense of dread or fear

• Feeling that you might be dying or having a heart attack

• Sweating and hot flushes, or chills and shivering

• A dry mouth

• Shortness of breath

• Νausea, dizziness and feeling faint

• Numbness, pins and needles or a tingling sensation in your fingers

• A need to go to the toilet