See which one of the six most common anxiety disorders you most commonly suffer from. Learn all you can about what is causing your anxiety so you can create a plan to gain control of your anxiety over time. Start by visualizing yourself becoming a more calm, clear, collected person able to step back and eliminate anxiety with action. 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population. (Source: National Institute of Mental Health)

#1. Specific Phobias

Affecting 8.7% of Americans, specific phobias commonly focus on

  • Animals
  • Insects
  • Germs
  • Heights
  • Thunder
  • Driving
  • Public transportation
  • Flying, dental or medical procedures
  • and elevators.

People who experience these seemingly excessive and unreasonable fears in the presence of or in anticipation of a specific object, place, or situation have a specific phobia.

#2. Social Anxiety

Nearly 15 million Americans have social anxiety disorder (8.6%) and 36% of those people report having symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help. Although they see that the fear is excessive and unreasonable, people with social anxiety disorder feel powerless against their anxiety.

  • They are terrified they will humiliate or embarrass themselves and suffer overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in social situations. This can be limited to one kind of social situation (such as speaking in public), or it can extend to all situations that involve other people.
  • Social anxiety sufferers experience a chronic, intense fear of being watched or judged by others, and they can have a hard time working, attending school, or going out socially.

#3. Generalized Anxiety Disorder

6.8% of Americans feel sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety. They don’t know how to stop the worry cycle and feel it is beyond their control, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants.

GAD is characterized by exaggerated worry or tension and chronic anxiety, even when there is no real cause. Someone could be overly concerned about finances, issues at work, or health issues. People with GAD also suffer from physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, being irritable, sweaty, or having hot flashes.

# 4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

3.5% of Americans experience PTSD after being exposed to a terrifying event in which his or her life or safety was threatened. The events that most commonly cause PTSD include;

  • Military combat,
  • physical or sexual assaults
  • Accidents
  • and natural or human-caused disasters

PTSD sufferers experience insomnia, nightmares, persistent memories of events, and emotional detachment. They are also often easily startled.

#5. Panic Disorder

The panic disorders affecting 2.7% of Americans are characterized as sudden, uncontrollable attacks of terror. These “panic attacks” are often accompanied by sweating, dizziness, faintness, and a pounding heartbeat.

  • People who suffer from panic disorder often believe they are having a heart attack, going crazy, or in mortal danger. Fortunately, it is one of the most treatable of the anxiety disorders, responding well to medications and/or cognitive behavioral therapy.

#6. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

1.0% of people have OCD which includes recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). The disorder manifests itself in behaviors such as handwashing, checking locks or appliances, counting objects or tasks, or cleaning excessively. But performing these “rituals” only distracts one from the anxiety that is driving them and only provides temporary relief and will eventually increase anxiety.

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