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Anxiety: 4 Types, Symptoms, Causes, and Best Solutions

Table of Contents

Summary

Anxiety is a type of energy that can help motivate you to function at your optimal performance. However, if your anxiety becomes too high, it can cause problems in your life. Social anxiety, performance anxiety, agoraphobia, and panic attacks are some common types of anxiety.

What is Anxiety?

Can you think of a time when your heart started racing really fast? Or the feeling you had when your crush started talking to you in the hallway? How about a time when your hands started to get really sweaty, or when you started feeling nervous before giving a speech in front of the class?

This is called anxiety and we have all experienced at least one of these anxious feelings at some point in our lives. 

Anxiety is a type of energy that can help motivate you to function at your optimal performance but if your anxiety becomes too high, it can cause problems in your life.  Think about getting ready to deliver a speech, or run a race, you’ve likely experienced “butterflies” in your stomach.  These “butterflies” are your brain and body’s way of helping you prepare and perform at your best.  

This type of “good stress” is called Eustress, and can improve your focus and overall performance. Too much anxiety can have negative effects on your wellbeing.  

It is amazing when anxiety helps you do well under stress and pressure, but anxiety can suck too. For 1 in 4 children and teens, anxiety can become crippling to their daily life. 

Anxiety can make you feel uneasy and anxious to the point that your heart never stops racing, your hands stay sweaty, you feel uncomfortable most of the time, or you become so nervous that you cannot begin to study for your exam or hang out with your friends.

4 Common Types of Anxiety

Learn the types of anxiety

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety includes having an intense fear of participating in social activities or avoiding social activities altogether to avoid negative feelings of being judged. Being in new situations, with new people, and having feelings of being judged or embarrassed in front of others is normal, but if these thoughts leave you feeling stuck or unable to move, you could be struggling with social anxiety.  There are strategies you can learn to help manage and overcome social anxiety.

Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety is a type of social anxiety that is usually triggered when you are asked to complete a task in front of others. Examples of anxiety caused by “performance” include any situation you are performing in front of an audience such as: taking a test, having to speak in front of a group of peers, playing a sport, playing an instrument. 

Performance anxiety is tricky to understand because it is common for people to be nervous when they are doing something for the first time or in front of a big crowd. Right! However, if the anxiety stops you from being able to succeed or to complete a task you may be struggling with performance anxiety. 

Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is just a big word that describes a form of anxiety, where you fear your environment is unsafe. Common forms of agoraphobia are the fear of using public transportation, being in open spaces, being in enclosed spaces, standing in line, being in a crowd, or being outside your house alone. 

The experience of agoraphobia can make you feel trapped – physically and mentally. You may start to avoid situations that cause this type of anxiety. Working with a professional can help you find the relief you need to tackle your fears and feel safe in the world.

Panic Attacks

A panic attack occurs when your brain is alerting you to a real, distorted, imagined danger, or threat. Panic attacks are scary because they can happen anywhere, anytime and for any reason. Sometimes it is triggered by certain situations, and other times you may not be able to pinpoint why it is happening to you, which can be frustrating. 

Symptoms of a panic attack include rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, heart-pounding, tightness in your chest, upset stomach, feeling like you can’t breathe, feeling dizzy, or hot or cold sensations running through your body. Try to remember that panic generally does not last for very long, and usually reaches its worst within minutes, then fades. Working with a professional can help you manage your panic attacks.

Anxiety Signs and Symptoms

Anxiety symptoms

Below is a list of signs and symptoms that some people experience who struggle with anxiety. Some of these symptoms are common signs that occur with eustress or “good stress,” but if these feelings become overwhelming, it becomes unhealthy anxiety. Remember not to self-diagnose and to consult a professional if you are concerned.

PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS

  • Body aches and pains or tense muscles
  • Stomach pains
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Shaking 
  • Sweating
  • Chest or stomach pain without a medical cause
  • Fast heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Easily tired

EMOTIONAL/MENTAL SYMPTOMS

  • Feeling restless or on edge
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Easily irritated or annoyed
  • Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up tired
  • Fearful
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism
  • Unexplained outbursts
  • Feeling numb
  • A decline in school performance
  • Isolation from others

Why Do I Get Anxious?

All of us experience some form of anxiety in our lives. Anxiety has been linked to genetics (Does someone in your family have anxiety?), brain chemistry (communication errors between your brain and body), stressful life circumstances or a trauma, and even learned behaviors. 

The ability to understand and tell the difference between good stress and bad stress can help you better manage your anxiety.

Anxiety Wellbeing Strategies

Anxiety Wellbeing Strategies

Talk to a Counselor or Therapist:  It can be difficult to address your emotions and thoughts, experiences, and life challenges. Reaching out to a counselor or therapist can help you feel better and less alone. Find a therapist near you here or try online therapy!

Talk to a trusted adult: Parents, mentors, school employees, and religious leaders can provide you with additional support and guidance to work through your life challenges.

Take care of yourself: Exercise, sleep, and eating healthy can have a big impact on your overall mood and how you feel about yourself. You can also do something you enjoy, such as yoga, art, sports, writing, listening to music, playing an instrument, etc.  Finding time to do things that you enjoy can help you feel better.

Meditate, prayer, mindfulness: Connecting to your breathing and your abilities to calm yourself can help positively increase your mood. Spending time in nature can help improve your mood.

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