Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
As its name implies, this anxiety disorder is characterized by a general sense of excessive worry and tension. It often begins in childhood or early adulthood. It is chronic, or ongoing, and highly treatable.
Key symptom is a paroxysm of sudden fear together with physiological symptoms that may seem to resemble a heart attack (palpitations, chest pain, choking, vertigo, trembling, shaking); distorted perceptions in light/sound intensity are also common. Panic attacks, as they are called, usually last only a few seconds or a few minutes. They may lead to agoraphobia (see below).
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Anxiety that results from severe stress. It is characterized by unwanted and recurring flashbacks to the traumatic event. Battlefield experiences, rape and childhood sexual abuse are often implicated.
Distinguished by a person's avoidance of specific objects or places (such as avoiding snakes or bridges) because they arouse intense fear or panic; common phobias are fear of animals and heights.
Profound shyness, including a fear of humiliation or embarrassment producing avoidance of social situations.
Fear associated with being away from a safe person or safe place, such as home. It is frequently seen in those with panic disorder as they seek to avoid having a panic attack in public. It often occurs in people who experience panic attacks because they come to fear leaving the house lest they have a panic attack and embarrass themselves.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Characterized by repetitive intrusive, unwanted and disturbing thoughts (obsessions), such as thinking one's hands are dirty or that one's home will catch on fire, combined with rituals and behaviors such as compulsively needing to return home to check the stove or washing one's hands hundreds of times a day to reduce the anxiety provoked by the obsessions. There are many variations, including eating disorders and compulsive shopping.