Often the children, young people, families and others that we meet or work with will have anxiety in their past or present experience. Knowing some of the signs and understanding different types of anxiety disorders will be helpful in any setting.

We have included a list of really useful resources at the end of this article.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a common occurrence when a person faces potentially problematic or dangerous situations. It is also felt when a person perceives an external threat. However, chronic and irrational anxiety can lead to a form of anxiety disorder and there are different types of anxiety disorders depending on their causes or triggers.

How is Anxiety Treated?

Anxiety disorders are often treated using specific methods and techniques designed to target symptoms and develop coping mechanisms for the anxiety triggers. Knowing which method to use in the treatment largely depends on the kind of disorder a person has. This article provides insights into some of the most common forms of anxiety disorders.

Common forms of anxiety disorder

Generalised anxiety disorder

A person who has this type of anxiety disorder usually experiences prolonged anxiety that is often without basis. More accurately, people with generalised anxiety disorders cannot articulate the reason behind their anxiety. This type of anxiety usually last for six months and often affects women more than men. Due to the persistence of the anxiety, people affected with generalised anxiety disorder constantly fret and worry. This can result in heart palpitations, insomnia, headaches, and dizzy spells.

Specific phobia

Unlike someone with generalised anxiety disorder, a person who has a specific phobia experiences extreme and often irrational fear of a certain situation or object. When exposed to the object or situation they fear, people with specific phobias exhibit signs of intense fear like shaking, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and nausea. Common specific phobias include fear of heights, enclosed spaces, blood, and animals. The fear a person with phobia feels can be so extreme that he or she may disregard safety just to escape the situation.

Panic disorder

Also known as Agoraphobia, panic disorders are characterised by recurring panic attacks which are often unexpected. Symptoms are usually shaking, chest pains, dizziness, fear of losing control, and reluctance of being alone. People with panic disorder are aware that their panic is usually unfounded and illogical. This is why they avoid public situations and being alone. A panic attack can be so severe that people may lose control and hurt themselves.

Social phobia

Alternatively called social anxiety, a person with social phobia may exhibit similar symptoms like those of panic disorder especially in social situations. Shaking, dizziness, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations may ensue when a person with social phobia finds his or herself at the centre of attention or in the company of many people, regardless of whether they are strangers or not.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

People with obsessive-compulsive disorder experience anxiety caused by a persistent obsession or idea. They tend to avoid experiencing anxiety by resorting to repetitive actions or behaviours that prevent anxiety. For example, a person who is obsessed about cleanliness may experience anxiety at the mere sight of a misplaced object. To prevent anxiety, he or she will clean and organise everything compulsively or without reason.


Post-traumatic stress disorder may occur after a person has experienced a severely traumatic event. He or she may relive the experience in his or her mind which causes stress and anxiety. If a person with PTSD comes into contact with stimuli (any object, person, or situation) that he or she associates with the traumatic event, he or she may literally re-experience the event by crying uncontrollably, panicking, or losing control. Subtler symptoms include insomnia and avoidant behaviour. PTSD may manifest itself immediately after the traumatic event or even years after.

Determining the type of anxiety disorder a person has is crucial to seeking treatment and recovery. Techniques and methods that are used to help a person cope with a certain anxiety usually target not only the management of symptoms but coping mechanisms when exposed to triggers. Only after thorough diagnosis can treatment and recovery for anxiety disorders really commence.

Please note the contents of this post do not constitute medical advice. Always consult your practitioner or specialist. 

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Anxiety Worksheets

  • Fight or flight response
  • What is trauma
  • Exploring social anxiety
  • Challenging anxious thoughts
  • Panic Assessment
  • Panic Info Sheet
  • Mental health exercise benefits
  • What is worry
  • OCD exposure hierarchy
  • Mindfulness for children
  • Mindfulness exercises
  • Core beleifs
  • Challenging negative thoughts
  • Progressive muscle relaxation techniques
  • Thought Log
  • Daily Mood Chart
  • Weekly Mood Chart
  • Exposure Hierarchy
  • Anxiety Triggers
  • Cognitive distrotions
  • Mindfullness meditation
  • Anxiety thought log