Types of anxiety disorders1,5
There are a wide range of anxiety disorders in addition to GAD and people can be affected by more than one.6 The
majority of these disorders have an annual prevalence of approximately 3% in a New Zealand general practice setting.2
Panic attacks are unexpected discrete periods of intense fear or discomfort. Typically panic attacks reach their peak
within ten minutes and last 30–45 minutes. Often patients may feel that they are experiencing a serious medical
condition such as a myocardial infarction. Panic disorder is characterised by recurrent panic attacks.
About two-thirds of people with panic disorder develop agoraphobia. This is a fear of being in places or situations
from which escape might be difficult should a panic attack occur, including being in a crowd, being outside the home
or using public transport.
Social phobia (social anxiety disorder)
Social phobia is characterised by marked, persistent and unreasonable fear of being observed or evaluated negatively
by other people in social or performance situations e.g. speaking to unfamiliar people, eating in public.
Specific phobia is characterised by excessive or unreasonable fear of objects (e.g. spiders, snakes) or situations
(e.g. flying, heights, seeing blood). This type of anxiety is significantly more common in women than men.1
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder develops after exposure to an event causing psychological trauma e.g. actual or threatened
serious injury to self or others. The condition is characterised by recurrent and distressing recollections of the event,
nightmares and/or a sense of reliving the experience with illusions or hallucinations. People often make efforts to avoid
activities or thoughts associated with the trauma. Hyper-arousal symptoms such as disturbed sleep, hypervigilance and
an exaggerated startle response are also associated with PTSD.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterised by recurrent obsessions and/or compulsions that cause impairment in
terms of distress, time or interference with functioning. Common obsessions relate to contamination, accidents and sexual
or religious preoccupations. Common compulsions include washing, checking, cleaning, counting and touching.