There are different types of anxiety attacks; each one is attributed to a specific anxiety disorder. These include such disorders as generalized anxiety disorder or GAD, obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD, panic disorder/panic attacks, phobias, separation anxiety and social phobia/anxiety.
Anxiety attacks triggered off when suffering from GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) can be due to constant fears and worries about daily activities or continued feelings that a bad event may occur. This disorder can trigger off the worst of anxiety attacks because the patient is suffering from worry and fear almost all the time, while dealing with physical afflictions like fatigue, upset stomachs and headaches.
Attacks triggered off when suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) can be due to the impossibility to control or stop behaviors or thoughts. These thoughts become stressful to the point of obsession, so much so that the constant concerns cause anxiety attacks or not acting to prevent something can also cause an attack.
When a patient is suffering from panic disorder, the subsequent anxiety attacks can be triggered again and again by attacks lasting as long as thirty plus minutes, and may be accompanied with or without agoraphobia ( fear of being stuck somewhere where getting assistance or escaping would be hard during an anxiety attack). Most people in this situation will avoid enclosed spaces or public places.
A patient that is suffering from some form of phobia or extreme fear of something may go to extraordinary measures to avoid situations and things that can invoke their fears. However, the anxiety from this and the situation they are trying to avoid, if they cannot avoid it, may trigger of anxiety attacks fuelled by irrational fears that to them in reality pose no real danger, but in their minds can cause extreme shock.
Anxiety attacks can become a part of separation anxiety and are most especially experienced by children when separated from their parents or far from home. It is quite commonly seen in the playground with young children who are starting school for the first time a child in what appears to be hysterical floods of tears and gasping. However, this type of anxiety attack should disappear as the child gets older and used to the process of separation and return. If not, the child could be suffering from separation anxiety disorder.
Anxiety attacks are most commonly found with social anxiety and social phobia. An attack can easily be triggered by an intense fear of public humiliation, embarrassment, ridicule and negativity from other people, especially those they don’t even know. The attacks may vary in length and even be the result of an unnatural level of shyness. In the case where severe anxiety attacks may occur, patients usually avoid situations and any type of socialization possible, even isolating themselves from others over long periods of time. The milder form of this can be classified as stage fright and the attacks from these can vary according to the trauma felt by the patient.
Though anxiety attacks vary in their severity, length and intensity, they are triggered by certain fears, concerns, stresses and other anxieties attributed usually to an anxiety disorder. In some cases the anxiety attacks are just simply so mild that most people do not even recognize it as a problem, just a normal reaction to a stressful situation. In other cases the attacks are so severe that they can last for days, only alleviated by the wave like way they decrease and then increase each time with more intensity as they build to a crescendo near the end of the attacks. In cases that are severe it becomes necessary for the patient to have medical intervention they have stopped functioning in their everyday lives, are unable to enjoy life, cannot tolerate social interactions and live in constant fear without good justification.