The 3 Major Types Of Anxiety

Updated: Oct 13

Anxiety can take many, many forms, however we have narrowed them down to 3 major types.


What is Anxiety?


Do you feel nervous a lot of the time? Stressed out, or even panic? Do these feelings get in the way of you being able to have a good time, or do the things you want in life? You may have Anxiety. Anxiety pertains to feelings about the outcome of future events (i.e. they haven’t happened yet). Maybe you’re stressed about starting a new job or a new relationship. Maybe you have butterflies in your stomach before writing a big exam. Or maybe you’re worried whether you’ll pass your driver’s test.


Everyone feels anxious from time to time. For some this feeling may last only a short period of time. For others, the feeling never seems to go away. When this happens, it is referred to as Chronic Anxiety, and it can significantly interfere with the quality and experience of your life.


According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States aged 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.” Anxiety was an epidemic before COVID-19 was a pandemic. And it’s becoming increasingly more common, especially during this time of ongoing uncertainty. How do we define the intense feelings of Chronic Anxiety?


Anxiety is frequently experienced as feelings of dread or uncertainty caused by the anticipation of a threatening event or circumstance. These feelings have the ability to affect our thoughts and perceptions, along with our physical and psychological functioning. At the root of it, anxiety is really about fear. Fear is an emotional reaction to an imminent threat and is linked to our natural and inherent “fight or flight” response to keep us alive: We either stay to fight the threat, or leave to escape the danger. When faced with a legitimate threat to safety, our mind will work quickly to assess which is the best option for us to take in the situation.


‘Worry’ or ‘concern’ refers to feelings of or concern about something, and potentially be bothered by a continuous feeling of unease. These feelings are appropriate and normal to the human condition. Anxiety... is the inflated version (unhealthy) of worry and concern (healthy). It happens when we create irrational fears for ourselves when no real legitimate threat is possible (or at the least, known to us - because it hasn't happened yet).


Also Read: 5 Quick Tips to Boost Your Mood


What are the Symptoms of Anxiety?


While anxiety symptoms differ from one individual to another, overall the body responds in a certain way most of the time. Typically, a person will feel both physical and psychological symptoms and aspects. Some physiological responses include increased heart rate, sweating, fatigue, insomnia, difficulty breathing, headache, and muscle tension. Because the body and mind are inextricably connected, physiological aspects often affect a person's mental state and can result in a deflated or depressed mood.


Psychological symptoms of anxiety include constantly intrusive and negative thoughts (i.e. envisioning worst case scenarios on repeat), difficulty concentrating, catastrophic “runaway” thinking, panic, and in extreme cases feeling like you might be “crazy.” (Rest assured: You are not).





Top 3 Types of Anxiety


Anxiety can exist in many forms, however we have narrowed them down to 3 major types: Displeasure Anxiety, Acceptance Anxiety, and Achievement Anxiety.


Displeasure Anxiety

This type of anxiety refers to irrational thoughts focused on: “Something bad that might happen.” This type of anxiety arises as a result of anticipating an unpleasant occurrence. The feelings generally worsen as the dreadful event approaches, and actually disappear altogether during the actual event, and afterward (the outcome is now known, whether positive or negative).


Acceptance Anxiety

This type of anxiety occurs when you anticipate or fear being rejected by others, or that you won’t receive the approval you feel they must get. An irrational core belief that is often associated with this type of anxiety is: "I must be loved and appreciated at all times and never be rejected, as that would be awful and horrible if that happened."


Achievement Anxiety

This type of anxiety arises when you anticipate a scenario or event in which you may perform poorly or fail (e.g. an exam, job, or performance), and you feel that failing would signal you as a person as a total failure. An irrational core belief that is often associated with this type of anxiety is: “If I make mistakes or fail at something, that would be horrible/terrible and prove that I am not worthy as a person.”


Next Steps?


You can get control of your anxiety. It is possible. With the right knowledge, tools, treatment and interventions, you can learn to control and manage anxiety symptoms. Even rid your life of it for good.


In my next NKS Therapy blog post, I will share with you the many ways in which you can take control of your own anxiety, mental health, and quality of life by controlling your thoughts and feelings to kick anxiety to the curb. If you can’t wait that long, or if you want more hands-on teaching on how to control your emotions, please visit The 8-Hour Therapist and sign up for our online self-counselling program which teaches you exactly how to control and manage your emotions (including Anxiety in Module 6). If you need more customized one-to-one support, please visit us at NKS Therapy to book a FREE 15-minute consultation for our virtual or in-person counselling services with one of our many team members.


Stay healthy, happy, and well!

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