Answers to Common Depression and Anxiety Questions

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about depression and anxiety.

Explain generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

Dr. Heather Markwell discusses generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

Explain generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

There are three fairly common types of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Each one of them is a little bit different. The most common, or generalized anxiety disorder, is normally characterized by excessive, constant worrying. That worrying can be about a variety of different topics, and can be so devastating for a patient that sometimes they will have problems with their sleep, their eating schedules, and even sometimes manifest with physical symptoms such as headaches, abdominal pain, and heart racing symptoms as well.

Panic disorder is a little bit different. Panic disorder is a problem with recurrent panic attacks and concern of having recurrent panic attacks in the future. A panic attack normally is a short period of time, normally 15 to 20 minutes or so, of severe anxiety, sometimes chest pain, sometimes nausea, sometimes a feeling like you are about to die almost. These can be very devastating for patients.

Last is social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder normally relates to anxiety that happens in regard to having a social experience. That may be sitting down and having a conversation with somebody, being in a large group, public speaking. It becomes a disorder, rather than just being nervous about a presentation, when it becomes so pervasive that it's starting to be a problem in your ability to cope or to be in that setting, or you're actively avoiding those settings.


There are a variety of different types of anxiety disorders, each of which has slightly different symptoms.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) describes them in the following ways:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder – People with this disorder have excessive anxiety or worry for months at a time. The symptoms they have include:
    • Fatigue
    • Irritability
    • Lack of concentration
    • Muscle tension
    • Restlessness
    • Sleep problems
  • Panic disorder – This disorder causes recurring, unexpected panic attacks, which are sudden periods of intense fear. These attacks can include pounding heart, sweating, shaking, feelings of shortness of breath, and an overwhelming feeling of a kind of impending doom. The symptoms people with panic disorder have include:
    • Fear and avoidance of places where panic attacks have happened
    • Feeling out of control
    • Intense worries about next panic attack
    • Sudden, repeated sense of intense fear
  • Social anxiety disorder – People with this disorder have a fear of social situations where they think they will feel embarrassed, judged, rejected, or concerned about offending others around them. The symptoms they have include:
    • Avoiding places with other people
    • Being self-conscious in front of others
    • Blushing, sweating, shaking around other people
    • Difficulty making and keeping friends
    • Difficulty talking to other people in social settings
    • Fear of judgement
    • Having nausea when around other people
    • High anxiety about being around other people
    • Worries about embarrassment and humiliation
    • Worrying for days or weeks before an event with people

Talk to your doctor to learn more about these anxiety disorders.

Learn more:

Source: Joseph Allen, MD, Family Medicine of Vandalia; Chandan Gupta, MD, Monroe Medical Center; Anessa Alappatt, MD, Fairborn Medical Center; Heather Markwell, MD, Premier Health Family Medicine