Authored by Revere Health

Understanding Anxiety

October 1, 2019 | Behavioral HealthFamily Medicine

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, at least 40 million adults (ages 18 and older) in the United States suffer from anxiety every year. There are many risk factors for anxiety, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality and life events.  It’s important to understand that not all anxiety disorders are the same. The department of Health and Human Safety identifies the top 5 anxiety disorders as: 

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized anxiety is characterized by feelings of excessive anxiety or worry about general things such as personal health, work, social interactions and everyday life. GAD can cause issues for those who suffer from this disorder in work, school and other social situations.  Symptoms include: 

  • Feeling restless, wound-up or on-edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep issues

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD has two components. The first is obsession, which describes uncontrollable and recurring thoughts. The second component is compulsion, which is an urge to repeat certain behaviors over and over.  Examples of obsessive-compulsive behavior include: 


  • Fear of germs or contamination
  • Unwanted forbidden thoughts involving sex, religion and harm
  • Aggressive thoughts towards others and self
  • Need to have things symmetrical or in a perfect order


  • Excessive cleaning or hand washing
  • Ordering or arranging things in a particular or precise way
  • Repeatedly checking on things such as if a door is locked
  • Compulsive counting

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder causes recurrent, unexpected panic attacks. These attacks are short periods of intense fear that peak within minutes. Panic attacks can occur randomly or be brought on by a trigger, such as a certain object or situation.  During an attack, people may experience: 

  • Sweating
  • Quickened heart rate
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feelings of impending doom
  • Feelings of being out of control

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a disorder that can develop in people who have experienced something shocking, scary or dangerous. Most people will recover from the initial symptoms of shock and fear naturally, but those who continue to experience stress from these events (even when they are not in danger) may have PTSD.  Symptoms include: 

  • Flashbacks (reliving the trauma over and over)
  • Heart racing or sweating when thinking about the event
  • Bad dreams
  • Distorted feelings like guilt or blame
  • Changing routine to avoid thinking about the event
  • Trouble remembering key features of the event

Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder)

A phobia is an intense fear of specific objects or situations. Social phobia is an intense fear of social or performance situations. This causes worry that others will negatively evaluate them, leading to embarrassment.  Symptoms include: 

  • Avoiding social situations
  • Elevated heart rate in social situations
  • Extreme shyness
  • Clinging behaviors



“Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).” The Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

“Anxiety Disorders.” National Institute of Mental Health.           

“Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)” National Institute of Mental Health.

“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” National Institute of Mental Health.

The Live Better Team


The Live Better Team

Telehealth is not appropriate for every medical concern, so it’s important to ask your provider whether a virtual visit is suitable for your needs.

Learn more about Telehealth

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.