Types of anxiety disorders

An overview of anxiety disorders

In the case of anxiety disorders, a distinction is generally made between mental anxiety disorders, organic anxiety disorders and substance-induced anxiety disorders. While organic anxiety disorders are triggered by a physical illness such as hyperthyroidism, substance-induced anxiety disorders are triggered by the use of certain medications or drugs.

Mental anxiety disorders can be further subdivided into phobias, panic disorders and generalized anxiety disorders.


Phobias are pronounced, pathological fears of a real or hardly threatening situation. Based on the initial definition of fear as "targeted anxiety, " one can also speak of a morbidly exaggerated fear. However, the concept of phobia is not completely clear - there are also some phobias that are not necessarily pathological (for example phagophobia).

The most common classifications distinguish three groups of phobias:

  1. Agoraphobia: originally the fear of wide places. In the meantime, the term covers all situations in which there is already "fear of anticipation" before they occur (which is why this situation is avoided). Often the agoraphobia occurs along with panic attacks. It usually begins in the second decade of life and affects predominantly women.
  2. Social phobias: Fear of awkward behavior triggering an embarrassing situation. Social phobia usually begins during adolescence and is often associated with strong self-doubt and the propensity for substance abuse. Various forms of social phobia include redness anxiety, gynecophobia (fear of the feminine), speech anxiety, and fear of failure.
  3. Specific phobias: Continuing fear of a specific object (for example, an animal) or a specific situation (for example, a thunderstorm, a doctor's visit). In the specific phobia, anxiety symptoms are already produced by the presentation of the trigger. This form of phobia usually begins in childhood.

Types of specific phobias

Specific phobias include:

  • Dark Anxiety (not necessarily pathological)
  • Fear of flying (not necessarily pathological)
  • Xenophobia (disputed disease)
  • Fear of heights (acrophobia, not necessarily pathological)
  • Claustrophobia (fear of narrow or closed spaces, colloquially often referred to as claustrophobia)
  • performance anxiety
  • Test anxiety (not necessarily pathological)
  • Choking anxiety (phagophobia, not necessarily pathological)
  • School phobia, school fear
  • Syringe fear or fear of a doctor's visit
  • Zoophobia (fear of animals, for example spiders = arachnophobia or dogs = cynophobia)

Typical of phobias is that they are predictable, so always occur in certain situations in such a way that the fear is far stronger than the trigger it "earned".

panic disorders

Panic disorders are characterized by repeated severe anxiety attacks, which are either linked to specific situations or triggers (panic disorder with agoraphobia) or occur unexpectedly and suddenly (panic disorder without agoraphobia). They are dying from the strong fruit or losing control as well as pronounced physical symptoms. Frequently, those affected are admitted as an emergency with the suspicion of a physical ailment such as a heart attack in the ambulance.

Panic disorders include:

  • Fear of death (not necessarily pathological)
  • Separation anxiety (not necessarily pathological)
  • Fear of anticipation (fear of fear or of the unknown, occurs both in panic disorder and in the phobias)

Generalized anxiety disorders

In this anxiety disorder, it is typical that different everyday situations are coupled with inner tension, anxiety and anxiety; In addition, there are also physical complaints such as heart palpitations, sweating and feelings of tightness as well as mental symptoms such as dreadfulness, restlessness, concentration and sleep problems.

For the diagnosis to be justified, the symptoms must persist for at least half a year.

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