Blog Posts

The 7 Most Common Types of Anxiety & How To Tell Which One You Have


I have anxiety, and that’s OK.

The last time I wrote about anxiety I was 30 years old. Fast forward to 2018 and there’s something I need to talk to you about.

I’ve spent almost my whole life with the effects of anxiety.   There’s still one thing people dislike talking about: how anxiety symptoms can affect their life.

Anxiety symptoms often get lumped together into one big category, and labeled as “anxiety.” But there are actually many different types of anxiety disorders.

All have very different symptoms.

And…getting to the bottom of which one or which ones might be affecting you is key to finding the right course of treatment.

So…it’s important to know which one you have because there are different treatments and interventions for each disorder such as life coaching, therapy, lifestyle changes just to name a few.

That’s not to say, though, you need to diagnose yourself.

By keeping track of your symptoms, and discussing them with a life coach or counselor, you can begin to start to narrow down the options, and figure out exactly what’s holding you back.

Make sense?

I get it. Anxiety can feel isolating, as you deal with your symptoms and seek treatment.

Remember this….you’re not alone.

Anxiety affects millions of people every day. Every year.

If you’ve been struggling with anxiety-related symptoms, know that you’re definitely not alone.

Whether you have generalized anxiety disorder, a social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, there is a way to cope with your symptoms, and get back to feeling better.

Here, the most common types of anxiety, according to experts.

  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent worry about many areas of life; relationships, finances, health, and career. And it occurs without an obvious cause.

You’re just anxious all the time for “no reason.”

“People with GAD see the world as a dangerous place and do not feel the confidence that they can cope with the unexpected, so they are on hyper-alert,” clinical psychologist Dr. Paul DePompo. “With GAD one wrestles so much with the ‘what ifs’ they ruminate to the point where it can impact, school, work, sleep, social fun, etc.”

While we all feel anxious from time to time, anxiety caused by GAD is excessive, has a big impact on overall quality of life, and can even cause physical symptoms, such as nausea, tiredness, or sweating.

The best way to overcome GAD is through life coaching, where you’ll learn how to tune out those “what ifs.”

Life style changes can help as well. Such as drinking less coffee, and finding better ways to deal with stress.

  1. Social Anxiety Disorder

While it’s common to feel a bit nervous in certain high-pressure situations — such during an important meeting — folks with social phobia, or social anxiety disorder, will find moments like these too uncomfortable to bear.

Sound familiar?

If you have social anxiety, you might have a fear of social situations, particularly ones that may result in potential embarrassment or judgment, such as dating, going to a get-together, giving a speech, or participating in a performance.

You might not be able to make eye contact or hold a conversation without experiencing extreme anxiety, such as rapid heartbeat, sweatiness, stomach issues, or even out-of-body experiences.

Social anxiety can truly hold you back in life, so it’s important to seek treatment ASAP.

One of the most effective ways to overcome social anxiety is through talk coaching, where a trained life coach will help you build up your confidence.

  1. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, has been moved to its own section of the DSM- 5, and out from under the umbrella of other anxiety disorders. But because it’s so anxiety-inducing, it’s important to consider.

“OCD is a complex disorder that involves distressing thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) in response to these thoughts,” Dr. Odessky says. “Usually the person realizes that these rituals are unhelpful, but feels powerless to stop them.”

If you have OCD, you might engage in repetitive behaviors; such as hand washing, checking, ordering, counting, or repeating words silently in your head.

One of the most effective ways to overcome OCD is through exposure and response prevention or ERP.

This means you work up a fear ladder of situations that are difficult without using your rituals. You learn to restructure your thoughts and test out engaging in life without the rituals that keep you safe.

  1. Panic Disorder

Another type of anxiety disorder, known as panic disorder, can come about if you’ve experienced panic attacks in the past. “Panic disorder is the fear that you may get another panic attack,” Dr. DePompo says.

You might find yourself avoiding situations that have caused panic attacks in the past, changing your daily routine, or becoming overly focused on your bodily symptoms.

You end up doing things that actually bring on a panic attack such as focusing on your heart rate.

What that means is you start conditioning the anxiety symptoms and this brings on the panic attacks.

The more your fear it, the more power the anxiety takes over you.

And..that’s not fun.

And that’s where life coaching can come in handy.   Life coaching can set you up with breathing techniques.

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

It’s possible you might suffer from post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, after either directly or indirectly experiencing a very stressful event.

This means having the event happen to you, witnessing the event, having the event happen to a close friend or relative.

While everyone takes a while to recover after experiencing traumatizing situations, those with PTSD tend to take longer and have more severe side effects.

Symptoms must be present for more than one month, and may include things like nightmares, intrusive thoughts, re-experiencing the event, hyper-vigilance, and feeling on edge.

You might also feel depressed, sad, guilty, or have sleep problems.

There’s good news!

PTSD is in most cases very treatable with a combination of behavioral and cognitive behavioral psychotherapy methods and psychotropic medication.

PTSD requires professional intervention by mental health professionals trained specifically to address the condition.

  1. Specific Phobias

Everyone has a few fears. But if you have a bonafide phobia, you’ll likely experience an irrational fear of situations such as dark places, severe weather, enclosed places, heights, clowns, dogs, snakes, insects, or foods, weapons, mirrors.

The thing about phobias is you know you’re being irrational, but you feel the anxiety anyway.

That’s tough.

Since phobias can lead to severe limitations in life — you might, for example, not take a job if it requires you to face a certain fear — it is important to seek help.

Treatments for phobias include mindfulness strategies, life coaching, exposure coaching, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

  1. Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety that can form all on its own.

Possibly because it tends to run in families.

But it can also crop up most often after a series of panic attacks.

Very often individuals will have a panic attack in a public situation and because the panic attack is so aversive, they begin to develop anticipatory anxiety.

Or..fear about being in a public situation where they might have an attack without the ability to leave.

This type of anxiety might cause you to feel anxious on public transportation, while in crowded areas, or even in wide-open spaces.

Unlike other phobias, though, agoraphobia is focused on anticipating a panic attack and fearing the setting.

The result in the most extreme situations is where the person fails to leave their home, as it often is the only place they feel safe.

There is good news!

There is a way to treat it so you can get on with your life.

Exposure coaching can help by getting you out into the world, and learning how to breathe through the anxiety.

If you feel any type of anxiety, let your doctor know.

By describing your symptoms, and explaining what you’ve been struggling with, they can figure out which type of anxiety disorder you might have, and prescribe the best course of action.


Loretta Holmes, MA CMHWC is a certified ADHD and Master Health & Wellness Coach as well as the founder of Bella ADHD & Life Coaching. She offers life coaching services for those affected by anxiety. Discover more about coaching with Loretta at or shoot her an email at



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *