Anxiety is a normal part of life. Everyone will experience stress or worry at some point, and it’s completely normal and common to worry about issues affecting one’s health, career, finances, family, and relationships. However, this type of anxiety generally fades shortly after the problems are resolved or disappear.

Anxiety disorders, on the other hand, are a more chronic and often debilitating issue that do not always correlate with external factors. In fact, instead of going away, anxiety disorders can actually get worse over time, and often interfere with the ability to perform daily tasks. Eventually, they can negatively impact relationships and performance at work. There are many types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and various phobias.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

One type of anxiety disorder is generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD. GAD produces chronic, exaggerated worrying about everyday life, sometimes defined as a persistent feeling of dread. This worrying can consume hours each day, making it hard to concentrate or finish daily tasks. A person with GAD may become exhausted by worry and experience headaches, tension or nausea. Other symptoms of GAD include:

  • A constant feeling of restlessness
  • Low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a distinctive disorder but often associated with a history or symptoms of anxiety. OCD is characterized by repetitive, unwanted, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and irrational, excessive urges to do certain actions (compulsions). Although people with OCD may know that their thoughts and behavior don’t make sense, they are often unable to stop them. Symptoms typically begin during childhood, the teenage years or young adulthood, although males often develop them at a younger age than females. Other symptoms of OCD include:

  • Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing; fear of contamination
  • Arranging things in a specific way
  • Repeatedly checking on things
  • Compulsive counting

OCD can also include not just compulsive acts as described above but also obsessive worrying or ruminating about a topic or event where the ruminating or obsessive worrying is excessive to such an extent that it interferes with activities of daily living including socialization with others or the ability to maintain attention and focus on work.



Phobias are another common type of anxiety disorder. We all tend to avoid certain things or situations that make us uncomfortable or even fearful. But for someone with a phobia, certain places, events or objects create powerful reactions of strong, irrational fear. Most people with specific phobias have several things that can trigger those reactions; to avoid panic, they will work hard to avoid their triggers. Depending on the type and number of triggers, attempts to control fear can take over a person’s life. Examples of specific phobias include:

  • Fear of flying
  • Fear of heights
  • Fear of needles and injections
  • Fear of blood


What’s the difference between GAD and OCD? While these both often appear with symptoms of anxiety, they are still two unique disorders. Knowing the differences is important in order to ensure the correct diagnosis and treatment.

The main difference between GAD and OCD is the existence of compulsions, and the nature of the worrying that is fairly specific to a particular theme or event. People with GAD tend to worry and become anxious about a number of events, or are anxious across a more general set of contexts and circumstances - hence the term “generalized”. Further, GAD individuals do not engage in compulsive behaviors, while they are a central element of OCD. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that are used to relieve anxiety. These behaviors can be physical, such as obsessively washing one’s hands or rearranging objects in a precise order, or mental, such as counting certain patterns or repeating certain words or phrases.

Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Treatment for anxiety disorders may vary based on many factors, including, most importantly, the initial diagnosis. Treatments for GAD, OCD, and phobias can look very different. One avenue of treatment is therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on being aware of and then directly changing specific thoughts and feelings. For GAD patients, this often includes cognitive restructuring, which focuses on challenging anxiety-producing thoughts and trying to change them. For OCD patients, CBT often focuses more on exposure therapy, which is used to gradually expose people with OCD to anxiety-producing triggers, which helps to lessen their emotional response over time.

Another common option for treatment for many types of anxiety disorders is medication. If you think this is an option that might be right for you or your child, consult with your doctor first before trying anything.

Therapy with Mind & Motion

If you or your child are struggling with an anxiety disorder like GAD, OCD, or a phobia, the first step of evaluating and diagnosing it is a crucial one. The sooner you start treatment, the better. Mind & Motion’s expert team of therapists offers a wide range of services for anxiety disorders, and we’ll work together with you to ensure you get the best treatment plan possible. Contact us today to learn more.