Understand what the different types of anxiety can look and feel like.

Topics illustration alt

Also in this topic

What are the different types of anxiety?

While most people experience anxiety from time to time, some people find specific situations and stressors to be particularly triggering.

Depending on how much anxiety impacts your daily life and emotional wellbeing, it may be diagnosed as one of the following types of mental health conditions.

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

Anxiety is diagnosed as generalised anxiety disorder when you have excessive and uncontrollable worries about aspects of everyday life rather a specific stressful event you can attribute your anxiety to.

For example, you might feel physically and emotionally overwhelmed:

  • Going to school or work
  • Trying to make plans with friends
  • Attending a doctor's appointment
  • Paying bills or signing up for services
  • Sharing your opinions and ideas.

Social anxiety

Social anxiety is when you're constantly afraid of being judged, observed, or performing in front of others.

For example, you might feel physically and emotionally overwhelmed:

  • Having conversations or meeting new people
  • Eating or drinking in front of others
  • Speaking in a meeting, in class, or when giving a presentation.

Social anxiety can lead to avoidance of social situations. As a result, you may experience isolation and loneliness.


Phobias are out-of-proportion and long-lasting fears of specific objects, activities or situations.

Some of the most common phobias include extreme fear of:

  • Animals such as dogs, spiders, snakes, mice, and rats
  • Heights
  • Flying
  • Small spaces
  • Leaving the house.

Panic attacks

A panic attack is a sudden rush of intense anxiety or fear combined with a surge of frightening thoughts and physical sensations.

Panic attacks can happen to anyone, as well as those with:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Social anxiety
  • Phobias.

What else might be considered anxiety?

  • Is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) a type of anxiety?

    PTSD was previously considered an anxiety disorder, however, it is now classified as a trauma and stress-related disorder.

    While the feelings and effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are similar to those of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), the main differences are that PTSD is specifically caused by a traumatic experience and the symptoms can be intrusive.

    For example, someone experiencing PTSD may experience anxiety as well as:

    • Flashbacks
    • Nightmares
    • Recurrent memories.

    Click here to learn more about the feelings and effects of trauma.

  • Is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) a type of anxiety?

    Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is now classified separately from anxiety disorders but is often associated with immense anxiety or fear.

    OCD typically consists of uncontrollable and overpowering desires to do something such as:

    • Excessively double-checking locks or appliances
    • Tapping or counting
    • Cleaning things.

    However, OCD may also include intrusive thoughts or urges that trigger distressing feelings. As a result, OCD can cause behaviours to deal with those thoughts.

    For example, excessively checking in with loved ones because you fear that they’re hurt.

To learn more about why you might be experiencing anxiety and things you can do to feel better, you can:

Was this page useful?

Your feedback helps us improve the service for people like you.

We'd love to hear why!