Which Anxiety Disorder Do Your Symptoms Match?


At this point, you may have identified yourself as one of the millions of people who suffer from anxiety.  Although many of the symptoms of anxiety are similar among many sufferers, each manifests itself differently and varies from individual to individual. The different manifestations are the reason there are various forms of anxiety which are called anxiety disorders. This list of anxiety disorders and their signs and symptoms can help better specify what you are dealing with exactly and also help you figure out what to do and where to go next.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, is a general anxiety or worry experienced throughout the day that is debilitating in regards to living a normal life. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, GAD affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the U.S. population every year and women are twice as likely to be affected. It is not known what causes this disorder, but it is usually brought on in childhood and either stabilizes or increases as one becomes an adult.  This is one of the least severe forms of anxiety and many who have GAD can still function and hold employment but may allow their anxiety to hold them back from other aspects or opportunities in their lives. Beside irrational worrying or fear, GAD typically manifests itself physically. These symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Upset Stomach
  • Fatigue

Anxiety attacks, or panic attacks, are typically random or unexpected periods of overwhelming panic and the constant fear of having another attack. This fear can result in the diminish of the quality of life for the sufferer. Panic attacks can be triggered after experiencing a tragic event. However, most sufferers experience their first attack in their youth, and the cause is typically unknown. The frequency of the attack varies from person to person, and many who are unaware of their condition relate it back to possible heart or thyroid conditions. Likewise, besides the emotional, overwhelming panic, panic attacks are the most physical of all the anxiety related disorders and their symptoms include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Lightheadedness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Hyperventilation
  • Hot flashes
  • Chills
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Stuttering
  • Nausea
  • Feeling detached from reality
  • Feeling of loss of control
  • Chest pain
  • Chest tightness
  • Throat tightness
  • Choking
  • Cramps

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is characterized by having repeated thoughts or behaviors that are unwanted and debilitating to normal life. According to UOCD, 2.3% of the population suffer from OCD. Again, it is not known what causes this disorder, but it typically begins to be noticeable during puberty and will evolve throughout the sufferer’s life without treatment. Many living with OCD typically experience obsession over a certain thought or perform a certain or multiple obsessive behaviors.

The sufferer knows that what they are doing is unnecessary, but the fact that OCD stems from anxiety makes the sufferer fear that changing the thought or behavior will lead to something terrible happening or that they will no longer have the relief the thought or behavior gives the sufferer. Some may feel they have no control over their OCD and just accept this as a norm in their life. According to the Mayo Clinic, typical obsession themes of this disorder include:

  • Fear of contamination or dirt
  • Keeping things orderly and symmetrical
  • Thoughts about harming self or others
  • Unwanted thoughts of sexual or religious subjects

Examples of obsession signs and symptoms include:

  • Fear of being touched
  • Doubts that you’ve locked the door or turned off the stove
  • Stress when objects aren’t in a particular order
  • Thoughts of hurting self or someone else
  • Thoughts of acting inappropriately
  • Avoidance of situations that can trigger obsessions
  • Stress regarding unpleasant sexual situations

Physical compulsion symptoms include:

  • Washing
  • Cleaning
  • Checking
  • Demanding reassurances
  • Orderliness
  • Counting
  • Following a strict routine

Phobia is a fear that is unrealistic or exaggerated typically involving a certain person, place, thing, or activity. Phobias typically develop at a very young age, and there is usually not a known reason for a person to develop a specific phobia. However, a tragic event could trigger this form of anxiety disorder. The fear typically has no basis in reality and usually presents no harm at all to the sufferer. These fears can be extremely debilitating to normal life especially if the fear is of something one would frequent or encounter on a daily basis. Beside the mental debilitation, physical symptoms include:

  • Pounding or racing heart
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry mouth
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Sweating
  • Fear of unavoidable doom
  • Rapid speech or inability to speak
  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Choking

Social Anxiety is the fear of being seen negatively, judged, or humiliated by others. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, around 15 million adults experience social anxiety, and although it is not known what causes this, it usually comes about during puberty. Many deal with their social anxiety for over ten years before ever seeking treatment. This is due to many sufferers and their peers blame it on the person just being overly shy.

However, social anxiety is an actual disorder that negatively affects the quality of life of the sufferer and severely holds them back much more than a person who would be who is just shy. People with social anxiety tend not to do well in academic or occupational settings with large amounts of people. They typically suffer from a low self-worth even when they know their fear is invalid and feel powerless over their disorder. Besides the fear of social situations, physical symptoms include:

  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Blushing
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headaches
  • Low self-control
  • Detached from reality
  • Stuttering
  • Trembling

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is one of the most extreme anxiety related disorders that stems from being involved in a traumatic or disturbing event. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, around 8 million adults have PTSD during any given year. Likewise, PTSD manifests itself very similarly as a panic attack that rarely stops.  Seeing objects, hearing loud or specific noises, or even certain scents can trigger a flashback or even a full attack causing the sufferer to often momentarily lose all sense of reality or rationality.  Events like these can be physically dangerous for the sufferer and those around them alike. Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Easily startled
  • Withdrawn from society
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Avoiding situations that can serve as a reminder of the event
  • Unwanted thoughts of harming self of others
  • Insomnia
  • Night terrors

When experiencing an attack from a PTSD flashback, symptoms include:

  • Racing heart
  • Heart palpitations
  • Seeing things that are not there
  • Hearing things that are not there
  • Paranoia
  • Extreme intensity
  • Irrational or vulgar language and actions
  • Sweating


In conclusion, anxiety comes in many different forms. Although many share similar symptoms and signs, they are completely different in how they affect the sufferers quality of life and way they function. It is important to find out what disorder you have if you believe you do suffer from anxiety.  Therefore, you can better find the treatment and resources best used to treat you specifically and to improve forever your quality of life.