Different Anxiety Disorders

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There is a book called the DSM – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It is the reference manual and the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders. It was first conceived in the 1840’s when the government wanted to collect information on ‘insanity/idiocy’.

Why am I writing about different anxiety disorders and the DSM?

What is interesting to note is the marked increase in the number of categories of disorders. The first edition was published in 1952 with 106 disorders. There are now over 300 listed in the latest edition of the DSM-5. Sure, there is a lot of noise on the web from professionals about the re-organisation – the Huff Post has written about it – but the fact I’m picking out here is that there has been a 100% increase in the number of different anxiety disorders in every generation since DSM-I.

Here at Team Calmer-You, we thought it would be a useful exercise to go into more detail on the different anxiety disorders in order to more clearly understand them. They include: General Anxiety disorder (GAD), Panic disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post Traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) and Hoarding.


1. General Anxiety disorder (GAD)

Excessive, unrealistic worry and / or tension (even if there is nothing to provoke it).

In more detail:
Some people who experience general anxiety disorder find it hard to control their worries. There is a feeling of constant worry about a wide range of situations. It could be simply worrying about how to get through the day, or about the state of the world. This all-day anxiety can interfere with your ability to experience any kind of relaxed feelings. The General Anxiety Disorder  sufferer just can’t switch off their thoughts, and often feel exhausted, with physical symptoms presenting, including poor sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating on tasks, muscle cramp and an upset stomach.

2. Panic disorder

Feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly.

In more detail:
A Panic attack presents without warning or reason, and presents with overwhelming physical symptoms including sweating, chest pain, elevated heart rate, tightness of chest and throat. It could feel like a heart attack. An attack appears to be disproportionate to the situation the person is in. For example it could come while waiting for a bus or in a shopping queue.

Panic disorder is the term used when a person has multiple panic attacks together with being focused on worrying about the onset of the next attack, and worrying about the after effects of an attack, perhaps thinking they have a serious and undiagnosed medical condition.

3. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Constant thoughts or fears that present in rituals and routines which can be repeated to excess, such as hand washing, checking doors are locked etc.

In more detail:
OCD is a much used phrase to mean doing things neatly, or paying attention and fixing minute details, perhaps with a little teasing behind it, yet Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a serious condition. The sufferer is trying to relieve unwelcome impulses, thoughts or images they see by repeating behaviours until some relief or distraction is experienced.

OCD presents as contamination – repeated handwashing because of the ‘fear’ of germs, or ‘checking’  such as locks and windows, ‘hoarding’ household items, and an inability to discard newspapers or trash, and intrusive thoughts which play over and over again.


4. Post Traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Symptoms show after a traumatic event, such as being involved in war, accidental death of a loved one or abusive relationships. They include shutting down feelings, lack of emotions and a replay of the frightening events over and over again as a memory.

In more detail:
While it is understandable to need a bit of time to adjust to life-threatening events, PTSD sufferers are unable to move past their experiences. In fact symptoms such as flashbacks, insomnia and  nightmares present for some time afterwards. Sufferers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder often report feeling numb from their emotions while also being in a state of constant alert, which affected their ability to maintain close relationships with friends and loved ones or hold down a job. PTSD can lead to abuse of substances such as alcohol or drugs or violence as a coping mechanism, or release.


5. Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

When everyday interactions with people become difficult to carry out – such as leaving the house to go into the ‘world’, or talking to people. Thoughts which arise are usually anxiety over being judged, or of being embarrassed.

In more detail:
Most people at some point feel shy, or nervous in a social situation, and everyone has been an awkward teenager. Yet for some, thoughts of what would happen at a social event  such as a party where there are strangers, can become a traumatic and thus develop into social anxiety disorder. So much so that the act of simply leaving the house can set off the anxiety and make it impossible to go out the front door. The sufferer of social anxiety disorder is very self conscious, insecure, and fees  fear and dread at the thought of interacting, which brings on physical symptoms such as rapid breath, blushing or even a panic attack.

6. Hoarding

Keeping  (hoarding) objects ‘for the future’ (including broken items, trash and pets) within the home and garden which are so numerous that it can be difficult to move about. The amount of clutter in the home is dangerous to the occupier and a possible health and safety risk to neighbours. It can also be associated with OCD and depression.

In more detail:
A more recently categorised anxiety disorder is hoarding – which takes collecting to a completely new level.  Hoarding starts because emotions are transferred to objects, and the hoarding is often triggered by a negative emotional event such as the death of a loved one. The whole house can get full  – including the kitchen and bathrooms. Often the sufferer does not see the hoarding as a problem, yet getting rid of objects is intensely stressful for the sufferer, and can result in panic attacks and aggression towards helpers.


So there you have it – 6 different anxiety disorders, with symptoms described in detail.

If you’re interested in seeing how these disorders are categorised- we’ve added them here.

Anxiety Disorders include

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Selective Mutism

Specific Phobia

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

Panic Disorder

Panic Attack (Specifier)


Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Substance/Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition

Other Specified Anxiety Disorder

Unspecified Anxiety Disorder


Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Hoarding Disorder

Trichotillomania (Hair-Pulling Disorder)

Excoriation (Skin-Picking) Disorder

Substance/Medication-Induced Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition

Other Specified Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorder

Unspecified Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorder


Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders

Reactive Attachment Disorder

Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Acute Stress Disorder

Adjustment Disorders

Other Specified Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorder

Unspecified Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorder


Specific Phobias

Intense fear of objects, places, animals or an activity. This could most commonly include spiders or flying. The fear is disproportionate to the situation.












2. Panic disorder




3. OCD








5. Social Anxiety Disorder