There are numerous types of anxiety disorder. Each has slightly different effects on your mind and body. This page explores the symptoms of nine different anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders don’t affect everyone in exactly the same way. You may have an anxiety disorder but not experience every symptom listed.
If you recognise the symptoms covered, speak to your doctor. The doctor can diagnose and treat your condition, helping you to feel better.
Read on to learn what each anxiety disorder feels like.
If you experience anxiety about a wide range of situations or events, you may have generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). But how does GAD affect your mind and body?
GAD may change the way you think, feel, and behave.
If you have GAD you may feel like something bad is about to happen, even though it isn’t. Along with this sense of dread, you may feel:
These feelings may cause you to avoid certain situations, people, or activities. Without treatment, having GAD can disrupt your daily life.
GAD can affect your body in a number of ways. It can make you feel:
You might also have:
If you have GAD you may also:
If your anxiety is triggered by social situations, you may have social anxiety. We explore how social anxiety may affect your mind and body below.
Social anxiety may make you extremely worried and fearful about:
These feelings may lead you to avoid social situations. Or you may push yourself to socialise but find the experience distressing.
If you have social anxiety, you may overanalyse a social situation after it has happened.
Social anxiety can affect you physically. Having social anxiety may make you:
These symptoms tend to be experienced when approaching a social situation. Social anxiety may also make your heart beat faster than usual.
If you experience frequent panic attacks, you may have panic disorder. We explore the physical and psychological effects of panic disorder below.
If you have panic disorder you may experience ongoing feelings of anxiety between panic attacks.
The psychological symptoms of a panic attack include feeling:
These thoughts may feel overwhelming during the panic attack. But they will pass. Panic attack symptoms are temporary.
Panic attacks can have a powerful, physical effect on your body. During a panic attack, your heart may beat faster and you may feel:
Experiencing these symptoms may be distressing, especially if you have not had a panic attack before.
Although you may feel like you are in danger, panic attacks are not harmful. The physical effects of a panic attack are only temporary.
Panic attack symptoms normally go away on their own after about 20 minutes.
If your anxiety is triggered by a specific situation or object, you may have a phobia. We explore what a phobia feels like below.
Having a phobia can affect the way you think, feel, and behave. Being exposed to your phobia source may make you feel like:
To avoid these feelings, you may organise your life so as to avoid your phobia source. For people with complex phobias, this may disrupt daily life.
Thinking about or coming into contact with the source of your phobia may cause physical symptoms. Your heart may beat faster and you may feel:
Some people with phobias may experience panic attacks. The physical and psychological symptoms of panic attacks are explored in the section above.
If your anxiety disorder was triggered by experiencing a traumatic event, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Let’s explore how PTSD may affect your mind and body.
Having PTSD affects your mind in three main ways:
If you have PTSD, you may also obsess over how you could have avoided the trauma. This can lead to feelings of guilt or shame.
When a person with PTSD reexperiences their trauma, this can affect their body. Physical symptoms may include:
If your anxiety is accompanied by a obsessions or compulsions (or both), you may have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). We explore how OCD may affect your mind and body below.
Obsessions and compulsions are the two main features of OCD. Obsessions affect your mind and compulsions tend to be physical acts.
Obsessions are distressing, unwanted thoughts that repeatedly enter your mind and make you anxious.
Every person with OCD experiences different obsessions. Common examples include:
These are themes that everyone may occasionally worries about. An obsession is a persistent, intrusive thought about these themes that disrupts your thinking.
Compulsions are repetitive physical acts or thoughts that your obsession drives you to complete.
Carrying out a compulsion may temporarily ease your anxiety. But then the obsession may renter your mind and start the pattern again.
Every person with OCD experiences different compulsions. Common examples include:
Compulsions are not always physical acts, they can be thoughts too. You may feel compelled to repeat certain things in your mind to relieve your anxiety. This is called a mental ritual.
If your anxiety is caused by fixating on a perceived flaw in your appearance, you may have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). We discuss how BBD may affect your mind and body below.
BDD can cause fear and anxiety around your appearance. You may worry about a particular imperfection, fearing that others will notice it and judge you. Or you may repeatedly compare yourselves to others.
If you have BDD, anxiety about your appearance can affect your behaviour. You may:
If you experience anxiety during or a year after pregnancy, you may have perinatal anxiety. Let’s explore the psychological and physical symptoms of perinatal anxiety.
Perinatal anxiety may make you feel:
Perinatal anxiety may affect you physically too. You may have trouble sleeping. Other signs you may notice include:
If you are constantly worried that you may be seriously ill, you may have health anxiety. We discuss how health anxiety may make you feel below.
Health anxiety affects the way you think about your health.
You may believe that you have a serious illness, despite the fact that you are well. You may misinterpret bodily processes or small physical changes as being a sign something is wrong.
Reassurance from the doctor that you are physically well may not put your mind at rest.
Health anxiety can affect the way you behave. Because you believe you are unwell, you may:
You may also experience physical anxiety symptoms like shakiness, tightness in the chest, or being short of breath.
Are you experiencing anxiety? Complete a self-assessment for advice.