Anxiety Disorder: When It’s More Than Just worry.

What separates an anxiety disorder from just being worried or overly cautious?

I’ve talked briefly about my own journey with an anxiety disorder. To summerise, it’s a fairly new diagnosis, but is thought to have been there throughout my life. I wasn’t aware of just how common anxiety and panic were in the general population until I recently. It appears that anxiety and panic disorder are extremely common in the general population.

Many of my readers and writers are no stranger to the effects of both anxiety and panic. Therefore I’ve managed to create quite a library of resources from tips on managing anxiety to the science behind panic attacks.

So, we’ve talked about how we can cope with anxiety, what panic attacks are and coping techniques. But, we’ve never actually talked about different types of anxiety disorder, and how they differ from panic.

Guest Blogger: LittleTinkaBlee.

LittleTinkaBlee is a mental health and review blogger. She’s also a fellow Yogi!

Tinka first began her blog in order to spread positivity to the lives of others. She suffers from a severe anxiety disorder, therefore making her the perfect candidate to educate us on the subject.

If you’re into mental health, yoga, cats, book review and much more, then you should definitely check out her blog. My favourite post is My Eating Disorder Story.

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

By LittleTinkaBlee

Dealing with an anxiety disorder and panic attacks can be incredibly difficult. Especially when you have little knowledge of what they are or how they truly effect us both mentally and physically. As much as they are a mental illness, they can cause very real physical symptoms.

I’ve experienced my fair share of anxiety attacks but very few panic attacks. However, the few I have experienced made it very clear just how different panic and anxiety disorders are from each other.

Although I don’t personally suffer from a panic disorder, I’ve people close to me who do. So, in order to help them, I’ve done some research on different anxiety and panic disorders out there.

What are anxiety and panic disorders?

An anxiety disorder can be experienced in a lot of different ways. There’s more than just one type of anxiety disorder out there. Depending on your symptoms, if you meet certain criteria then your doctor may diagnose you with a specific anxiety disorder. 

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

This means having regular or uncontrollable worries about a variety of different things. There are many possible symptoms of an anxiety disorder, therefore, this can be quite a broad diagnosis. Your own symptoms or experience with GAD can be vastly different from that of another person’s.

You may find yourself suffering from a variety of the below symptoms and much, much more.

Social Anxiety Disorders.

You’re likely to experience fear or anxiety that is triggered by any social situations. Social Anxiety Disorder is also known as social phobia.

You may experience any or a number of the following;

  • A sense of fear or dread connected with everyday social activities. This includes anticipation about meeting strangers, having a conversation, using the phone, going to work or going shopping.
  • Worrying or avoiding social activities. Even those that include people you know.
  • Worrying about doing something embarrassing in public i.e sweating, appearing incompetent.
  • Feeling like you’re being judged by others all the time.
  • Low self-esteem and confidence.
  • Avoiding eye contact with others, even those we know.
  • Palpitations, sweating, ringing in the ears, panic, etc when in social situations.
  • Panic attacks.

Panic Disorder.

A panic disorder can be triggered by sometimes unrelated experiences. This may cause you to worry about experiencing a panic attack because you don’t know when it will happen. This fear can prevent you from doing a variety of things including leaving the house and going to work.


An extreme fear or anxiety triggered by particular situations. This can include literally anything. For example, a common phobia is arachnophobia, wherein people are intensely afraid of spiders.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is diagnosed if the anxiety developed after experiencing trauma. PTSD can feel like you are reliving all the fear, anxiety and terror that you experienced during the actual event.   

As we talk about PTSD, I think it’s important to note that trauma is different for everyone. What one person finds traumatic may not impact another. For example, some women may experience PTSD after childbirth, while other women may not.

Check out Kati Morton‘s video on Trauma.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

OCD may be diagnosed if the anxiety revolves around repetitive thoughts, behaviours or urges. With this disorder, there’s an overwhelming urge to act out certain actions in order to calm ourselves in stressful situations.

It’s important to note that compulsions are often seen in other mental health conditions such as eating disorders. Experiencing obsessive thoughts and behaviours doesn’t necessarily mean you have OCD. It’s always important to get diagnosed by a medical professional.

Health Anxiety.

When you experience obsessions and compulsions relating to illness and health. This includes researching symptoms or obsessively checking to see if you have them. Health Anxiety can also be related to OCD.

Perinatal Anxiety or Perinatal OCD.

This is when you experience obsessions and compulsions relating to your physical appearance. It’s closely related to Body Dysmorphic Disorder and can often be seen in those with eating disorders.

It’s very common to experience anxiety alongside other mental health problems, such as depression or an eating disorder. If you’ve symptoms of both anxiety and depression, but you don’t fit one more clearly than the other, then you may be diagnosed with mixed Anxiety and Depressive Disorder.

But, what’s the difference?

In conclusion, anxiety and panic attacks have similar symptoms, causes, and risk factors. BUT they are not the same. Panic attacks tend to be more intense and are often accompanied by more severe physical symptoms.

The following from Healthline helps us put it into perspective. We can clearly see the similarities and differences from using the chart below. Although there are many overlapping symptoms, there are major differences in regards to our emotional state.

I wasn’t aware of the difference between both panic and anxiety disorders until reading Tinka’s post. I’m so grateful that she’s been able to clear this up for us.

If you would like to appear as a guest on my blog in 2020, I’m now accepting submissions! Please see my Collaboration page for more information on what I’m expecting, and how to apply.

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80 thoughts on “Anxiety Disorder: When It’s More Than Just worry.

  1. I knew about some of these disorders but not all of them. Indeed, a panic attack is so different than anxiety and that’s why many people who have it compare it with thinking that they are having a heart attack.

    1. That’s exactly my first thought every time a panic attack happens. Even though I know what they are, they always manifest differently in me.
      Anxiety and panic attacks are awful things. Thank you so much for reading.

  2. I am glad this is out there. I know I have social anxiety. There are times when I can completely put myself into a panic having to go to social things. I am working on it.

    1. Seeing a GP would be the best thing to do. Panic attacks aren’t normal, despite what others may have you believe.
      Thank you so much for reading and I hope it was at least a little helpful.

  3. When I was younger I had a panic attack once or twice and it’s really terrible if you don’t know how to handle it.

    1. I had one recently. Although knowing what it was etc it didn’t make it any easier.
      Thank you so much for reading. I hope it was helpful.

  4. “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” has been the catch-all diagnosis for decades , just something to put on the insurance form – there are levels of course. 40 years ago I was diagnosed at a level 4 – there were so many people in my office who were in therapy that we compared our GAD levels as if it were a contest LOL I shouldn’t laugh of course but it is kinda funny…Now it is more defined, and if I returned to therapy my diagnosis would be more detailed and extensive.

    1. I get this. For years depression was a catch-all for those sorts of disorders too. Now, much like anxiety, there are more defined branches and therefore a wider range of what works and what doesn’t.
      Thank you so much for reading.

    1. I agree with this so hard, girl! I am the same, and have been the same for as long as I can remember. Everyone used to tell me I’m just overly cautious or over-thinking, but it’s so much more than that. I knew that long before being diagnosed. I hope you’re able to find some way to combat this feeling. I’m still trying to find the perfect method, so no shame if you haven’t.

    1. They are terrifying. This post, along with various other guests I’ve had on the blog, have all helped me to understand them better.
      I’m so glad they’ve been able to help you too!

  5. Our family has had some experience with anxiety disorders but we have been blessed enough to have amazing counselors to help us through it. One of my sons is finishing up his Psychology degree because he has been inspired to help others in the way that we have been helped. Thank you for such a succinct description of this family of disorders.

    1. Thank you so much for reading. I’m sorry you and your family have had to go through this, but glad that it’s inspired your son to help others. It’s always great when we are able to find purpose in our own suffering.

  6. Thank you for featuring this topic. I am grald to have read this and learn and someway got enligthen with some things.

  7. It is good to know that there are so many different types out there. I am not sure I will be able to identify one when I have an encounter but I guess it will come with a bit of practice.

    1. I had no idea there were so many types until Tinka wrote this. It’s good to know the differences and similarities between them.
      Thank you for reading 🙂

  8. I’ve actually had depression since I was a kid, but this anxiety thing is a new addition, so I’m still learning what it’s all about. Thanks for clearing up my confusion regarding anxiety and panic attacks. I’m lucky to say I haven’t had any of the later, but definitely a few of the former.

  9. This is such an informative article. Definitely a lot of things that I wasn’t aware of. It’s important to learn about this topic and be more empathetic. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Thank you for posting such a great article. The information shared is going to help so many people. For me, it was an eye opener in many ways.

  11. Thanks for sharing this. Do to reasons I won’t get into on here I have learned a lot about anxiety in recent months. This is helpful for those that don’t really get it.

    1. It’s certainly a very informative post and I’m so grateful that Tinka took the time to write it for me.
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. x

  12. This was such an interesting read. When I hear people say they suffer from panic attacks or anxiety attacks, I never really understood what they were dealing with. Now I feel like I have a much better understanding. Thank you!

  13. Last year I suffered a couple of, what I thought, were panic attacks. After reading this I realized they were anxiety attacks.

    1. Very similar, so I can understand the confusion. I still don’t know which is which until I’m out of that place, and then I can start pin-pointing what I just experienced. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

  14. I’ve been suffering from anxiety for a while because of difficult work conditions. I got better, but now my work has become more stressful again, so I need to take care of myself. 🙂

    1. Make sure and listen to your body and what it’s trying to tell you. Anxiety and stress can often appear in physical ways.
      Thank you for reading and commenting.

  15. This is a big deal and should be taken seriously. I have a couple of friends who suffers from this and I try my best giving them a helping hand. In the end, they need someone to listen and make them feel that things are going to be just fine.

  16. It’s important to get the right diagnosis so you know exactly what kind of condition or challenge you are working with to overcome. I think once you are certain, it gets easier, if for no other reason there is so much information and so many groups that can help.

  17. Thank you for this post! People have little understanding of anxiety, and even less of the fact that there’s more than one panic/anxiety disorder. I’ve even had other people who have anxiety dismiss me because we experience it differently! I overthink things and feel like people don’t like me, but mostly if effects me with panic attacks and health anxiety – it’s all real and valid.

    Ash |

  18. I have suffered from anxiety for over 5 years. it is so needed to be open about this topic, I hate that it is somewhat taboo still!

    1. I hate that the term ‘anxiety’ is thrown around like it’s nothing. It paralyzes me somedays, and others I’m just about able to leave the house.
      Thank you for reading.

  19. This was really informative and helpful to those of us who don’t know much about anxiety. Definitely feel like I learned a lot from this.

  20. I’m a bit familiar with some of these as my daughter suffers from social anxiety. Before learning, we were always fighting. I read about it and how to handle this situation and it’s under control.It’s not easy.

  21. Very informative post. I think people often think that anxiety is a one size fits all disorder but it’s actually an umbrella term for sooooo many thinks and everyone’s experience can be different.

  22. I love this post, it’s so informative and I think a lot of people aren’t aware that there’s different forms of anxiety disorders so something like this is fantastic for raising awareness. Thanks for sharing 😊 x

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