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Types of Anxiety Problems

Each of these teens has a different kind of anxiety problem.

My name’s Millie. My yearbook saying is “most likely to panic.”  And it’s true!  It’s crazy.  Sometimes, I’ll just be hanging out watching TV and then all of the sudden out of nowhere I get this weird wave of terror.  I start feeling like I can’t catch my breath.  And my chest gets really heavy, like there is a pile of bricks on it. Then I get so dizzy and lightheaded I’m afraid I’m going to pass out! Sometimes it gets so bad I think I’m going crazy! It also happened a few times when I went to the mall. There were just so many people around I started feeling really hot, and then I started getting lightheaded and I thought I was going to throw up. The feelings are pretty intense and it feels like it’s going to go on forever.  I don’t even like to be home alone. And I won’t go to the mall unless someone’s with me. I mean, you never know what could happen if I was alone and felt this way.

Millie suffers from panic disorder. She has unexpected panic attacks, which are sudden rushes of very intense fear. When she has these attacks, she worries that something horrible is going to happen to her, such as fainting, going crazy, losing control, or dying.  Learn more about panic disorder.

My name is Rob. My yearbook saying is “nervous talking in groups.” And it’s not just groups, I get nervous talking to anyone I don’t know. I just don’t know what to say. My mind always goes blank and stupid stuff comes out. Lately, I’ve been skipping school because I spend all day worrying that a teacher is going to call on me to answer a question, and I won’t know the answer and everyone will think I’m an idiot. I have a few friends and feel okay around them. But I ditch if they invite people I don’t know. And I can’t talk to girls. Why bother…they’re not going to like me anyway.

Rob has social anxiety, which is an excessive fear of social or performance situations. He is overly worried about doing something to embarrass himself, or that others will think badly of him.  Learn more about social anxiety.

My name is Jacob and my mother calls me a “worry wart.” And it’s true. I worry everything!   Mostly, I get stressed out about screwing up at school.  Whenever I have to take a test, I think I’m going to fail. If I have a presentation, I can’t even sleep the night before because I’m so afraid I’ll mess up and get a bad grade. I’m also afraid that something horrible is going to happen to me or my Mom. Like we’ll be in a car crash or there’ll be an earthquake. I can’t even watch the news because I worry that whatever horrible thing I see on TV is going to happen to me. 

Jacob has generalized anxiety, which means he spends a lot of time worry about a lot of different things. Although everyone worries sometimes, Jacob’s worries are excessive (a lot more than other people) and hard to control. Learn more about generalized anxiety. 

My name Aman and I have frequent nightmares.  Things haven’t been so good this year.  Last summer, I was in a car accident with my cousin.   This lady ran a red light and hit us.  It was awful.  I thought we were going to die when I saw the car coming towards us.  I got pretty banged up, but I’m doing okay now.  I just have lots of bad dreams about car accidents and being chased.  I never want to get my license because I don’t want to drive.  My friends make fun of me because I get freaked out if they start driving too fast.  I won’t let anyone take me down the street where it happened.  And I’ve been having lots of trouble at school.  I just can’t pay attention in class anymore.  Sometimes, I’ll just start thinking about the accident and I just can’t get it out of my head.  I used to like hanging out with my friends and playing basketball, but I just don’t feel like it anymore.

Aman has symptoms of post-traumatic stress.  This is an anxiety problem that can develop after someone has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event (like a car accident, or a sexual or physical assault). People who have post-traumatic stress tend to relive the event in some way (e.g., nightmares, memories, flashbacks). They also attempt to avoid thing related to the event (e.g., getting back in a car after an accident), and tend to feel really anxious and on edge. Learn more about post-traumatic stress.  

My name is Christine and my friends call me a “Germaphobe.” I understand why. I hate germs. I get so grossed out touching stuff. I won’t touch the poles on the bus and I use my sleeve to open doors. I just imagine all the germs and gross stuff that could be all over them. As soon as I get home, I wash my hands really well! I also change out of my school clothes and put on clean clothes. Dirty clothes go right into the laundry. Nothing from outside can go in my room. I always leave my purse, knapsack, and jacket by the door. My Dad gives me a hard time because I won’t eat ANYTHING with my hands. I even use a spoon to eat chips. I guess I’m just really scared that I could get sick and even die if I’m exposed to the wrong thing. You can just never be too careful.

Christine has obsessive-compulsive disorder (or OCD). Obsessions are unwanted thoughts, impulses, or images that get stuck in your head and bother you (e.g., excessive doubts, fear of germs, fear of hurting yourself or others, needing things to be done a certain way or to feel “right”).  Compulsions are behaviours that are done repeatedly to feel less anxious (e.g., excessive washing, counting, checking, or arranging).  Learn more about OCD.

My name is Anita and I am terrified of bugs! When I was 12 years old, I was on a camping trip. My brother was messing around and hit a wasps’ nest. I was attacked by a swarm of wasps. The doctor said I got stung 11 times!  It was horrible. Now, I’m freaked out whenever I see bees or wasps. I hate going outside in the summer. My parents are annoyed because I refuse to go camping or visit my grandparents at the cabin.  At school, I won’t hang out on the track field because there may be bees or wasps. And I never walk through grassy areas or gardens.  And when I see one, I just lose it. My friends all make fun of me because they think I’m over reacting.

Anita has a phobia. Phobias are really intense fears of certain places, situations, or things. Common phobias include: insects, animals, blood, needles, heights, small-enclosed spaces, going to the dentist, and flying. Learn more about phobias.