The Four Subtypes of Anxiety
BodyImage3D | March 7, 2015

Anxiety is something that transpires in many people, although it can manifest itself in different ways. It can feel like stress, increased heart rate, stomach ache, fright or panic, feeling angry or worked up or for some it may be overwhelming resulting in a lack of energy. If your fears, thoughts, or worries seem to take over or interfere with your life, you may suffer from an anxiety disorder, and it’s not that uncommon.

Mental health is how we react to life’s stressors and daily challenges through our mood, thoughts, feelings or actions. Anxiety is a common response and thus is certainly a mental health concern. It is a good time to check in with yourself to see if anxiety is something that you struggle with.

As derived from Dr. Edmund J. Bourne in Anxiety & Phobia Workbook and as described by Dr. Reid Wilson in Don’t Panic: Taking control of anxiety attacks, there are 4 subtypes of personalities that tend to be prominent in those with anxiety. Use this is a resource to educate yourself on anxiety and how it may be affecting you.

The Worrier (promotes anxiety)

The Worrier is always anticipating the “what if” situations surrounding any decision they make, situation they’re in or scenarios that could present itself. They create anxiety by imagining or creating in their head the worst possible scenario. They associate the worst with also being dangerous or humiliating and therefore justify the negative outcome of what has triggered their anxiety in the first place. Worriers convince themselves of what is going to happen as they are approaching the situation and typically overestimate that the end result will be mortifying or bad for them personally. The Worrier is consistently concerned and on the defensive of any symptom or sign of trouble. When one of these signs transpires, it confirms and justifies their worry, affirming that the behavior is warranted. Since the Worrier is always looking for the worst and can easily translate situations to the worst, then they condition themselves to expect and experience just that.

The Critic (promotes low self-esteem)

The Critic is constantly assessing their behavior in a judgmental way with thoughts like “that was so stupid” or “why did I do that”. They evaluate themselves by pointing out their own flaws, shortcomings and limitations. The Critic believes that life’s situations happen as a result of something they didn’t do well enough or something that is wrong with them. They harp on any mistake that they feel they’ve made, replaying it over and over in their head, especially if it confirms for them that they have failed in some way. This way of thinking often causes the Critic to overlook or not even recognize their own positive qualities, thus keeping their perceived weaknesses or inabilities in the spotlight.


The Victim (promotes depression)

The Victim’s anxiety transpires with thoughts of “I can’t” or “I’ll never be able to do that” as they consistently fall back on feeling helpless and incapable. The Victim’s anxiety is perpetuated by convincing themselves that their condition is hopeless, that there is no way they can succeed or that the process of overcoming a hurdle is impossible. The Victim comforts their thoughts by believing that there is something inherently wrong with them, that they are defective or not worthy of anything good or successful.

The Perfectionist (promotes chronic stress and burnout)

The Perfectionist’s anxiety focuses less on what is holding them back and instead is overwhelmingly concerned with how to do more, how to do better, how to prove themselves. Their anxiety is generated by believing that what they are doing isn’t good enough. With this way of thought, the Perfectionist believes they can always work harder and that they have to please everyone. The Perfectionist is the hard on themselves, pushing themselves to do more but is also very self deprecating of mistakes or obstacles that they didn’t anticipate. The Perfectionist’s anxiety often manifests itself in situations that involve things like money, work, acceptance of others, other’s impressions of them or status. They allow their self-worth to rely on these thoughts, which often pushes them to stress, exhaustion and burnout, as they can never meet their own expectations.

If anxiety is something you struggle with, try some of these tips to combat worrying and achieve mental calmness.

  • Create a “worry period”. Try and create time each day and keep the worrying within these boundaries. Remember not to set this time near your bedtime; you don’t need to be anxious close to bedtime!
  • Ask yourself, “Is this problem solvable?” There is a difference between a problem you are currently facing and a “what if” fear. Make sure to distinguish that difference. If you are currently worrying about something that may happen or is out of your control, you may be causing yourself unnecessary worry.
  • Accept the uncertainty. Becoming comfortable with these feelings and learning to accept them, will help eliminate some of the “what if” worry.
  • Challenge the anxiety. Ask yourself, “Are these thoughts accurate?” “What makes them true?” By challenging these thoughts, you allow yourself to prove them wrong and eliminate the obsessive thoughts.
  • Stay aware of how others affect you.  Choose your friends wisely! Spend less time around people who make you anxious or worry.
  • Be Mindful. Be present and understand your anxiety. When you simply observe these thoughts versus controlling them or ignoring them, it is easier for you to let them go and focus on the life you are living right then and there.



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