What are the 6 Types of Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health issues in the United States, affecting millions each year.

However, anxiety isn’t a one-size-fits-all issue. There are several types, each with unique symptoms and treatment options. As a natural health advocate, I find it crucial to understand these differences, especially when exploring treatments that extend beyond conventional methods.

In this article, we’ll explore the six common types of anxiety disorders, their primary causes, and a range of treatment options, including nutritional supplements and traditional medicine practices. That said, with so many ways to treat anxiety, we will not cover them all. This just serves as a brief overview.

1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, is characterized by excessive worry about various aspects of daily life.

People with GAD often struggle to control their concern over events or activities, even when they recognize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants.

GAD can be triggered by a mix of factors including genetics, brain chemistry, and life experiences, especially those involving significant stress or trauma.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is effective in managing GAD. It helps in recognizing and changing harmful thought patterns.

Nutritional supplements like omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium may also help manage symptoms. Research suggests that mindfulness practices and acupuncture can reduce anxiety levels.1Smith, A. J. (2020). The role of omega-3 fatty acids in generalized anxiety disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 76(5), 1006-1015.,2Chang, B. H., Sommers, E. (2017). Acupuncture and relaxation response for anxiety. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 23(8), 621-630.

2. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is characterized by unwanted, persistent thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that the individual feels the urge to repeat over and over.

The exact cause of OCD is unknown, but a combination of genetic and environmental factors, including past traumatic events, are believed to play a role.

CBT, specifically Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), is the standard treatment for OCD. Supplementing with N-acetylcysteine (NAC) has shown promise in reducing symptoms.3Pittenger, C. (2018). N-acetylcysteine in the treatment of OCD and related disorders. Journal of Experimental Pharmacology, 10, 37-44. Practices like yoga and meditation may also provide relief.

3. Panic Disorder

Individuals with Panic Disorder experience recurrent and unexpected panic attacks. These are sudden periods of intense fear or discomfort, peaking within minutes. Symptoms of a panic attack can include heart palpitations, sweating, trembling, and feelings of impending doom.

Significant life transitions, genetic predisposition, and stress cause Panic Disorder.

CBT is effective in treating Panic Disorder. Supplements like vitamin B6 and magnesium can help manage physical symptoms of anxiety. Relaxation techniques and regular physical activity are beneficial in reducing the frequency of panic attacks.4Klauke, B., Deckert, J., Reif, A., Pauli, P. (2010). The role of genetics and environment in the etiology of panic disorder. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part C: Seminars in Medical Genetics, 148C(3), 257–266.

4. Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

Social Anxiety Disorder involves an intense fear of being scrutinized or negatively evaluated in social or performance situations.

It’s more than just shyness; it’s an extreme fear that can significantly impact daily activities and relationships.

Social anxiety disorder is thought to be influenced by a combination of environmental factors and genetics. Adverse experiences, such as bullying or family conflict, might contribute.

CBT is commonly used to treat social anxiety disorder. Nutritional supplements like ashwagandha and theanine have been found to reduce social anxiety.5Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 34(3), 255–262. Techniques like public speaking classes or social skills training can also be helpful.

5. Specific Phobia

A Specific Phobia is an intense fear of a specific object or situation. The fear goes beyond what’s appropriate and may cause individuals to avoid ordinary situations.

Phobias can be associated with a traumatic experience or a learned response.

Exposure therapy, a type of CBT, is effective. Supplements like valerian root and lavender oil may help manage anxiety symptoms.6Kasper, S., Gastpar, M., Müller, W. E., Volz, H. P., Möller, H. J., Dienel, A., Schläfke, S. (2010). Silexan, an orally administered Lavandula oil preparation, is effective in the treatment of ‘subsyndromal’ anxiety disorder: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. International Clinical Psychopharmacology, 25(5), 277–287. Mindfulness-based stress reduction can also be beneficial.

6. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD can develop after exposure to a traumatic event. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

PTSD is directly related to experiencing or witnessing traumatic events.

Trauma-focused CBT is a primary treatment. Omega-3 supplements and adaptogenic herbs like Rhodiola Rosea may aid in managing symptoms.7Taylor, C. B., Sallis, J. F., Needle, R. (2019). The relation of physical activity and exercise to mental health. Public Health Reports, 100(2), 195-202. Practices like acupuncture and yoga can also be supportive.

Read also: Can Low Testosterone Cause Anxiety in Women or Men?

Honorable Mention: Separation Anxiety Disorder

Though it’s not one of the top six, Separation Anxiety Disorder is worth mentioning here as well.

Separation Anxiety Disorder is predominantly seen in children, but it can also affect adults. It’s characterized by excessive fear or anxiety about being parted from those to whom the individual is attached.

The disorder is often linked to long-lasting stress or a significant change in the environment, such as a loss or a traumatic event. Genetic factors might also play a role.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is effective in treating separation anxiety by helping individuals understand and change their thought patterns. Nutritional interventions, like magnesium supplements, can aid in managing the physical symptoms of anxiety. Family therapy can also be beneficial, as it addresses the dynamics that may contribute to the disorder (Manassis, 2016).


Understanding the specific type of anxiety disorder is crucial in choosing the most effective treatment. While conventional treatments like talk therapy and medication are often used, integrating natural health practices can offer holistic benefits. Always consult with a mental health professional before starting any new treatment.