7 Types of Anxiety and Depression: Which Type Are You?

Imaging Shows Different Types of Disorders

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If you suffer from anxiety or depression you are not alone. There are millions of people in the U.S. and around the world suffering with you.

Using SPECT imaging, researchers theorize that depression and anxiety, like many other psychiatric conditions, are not just single or simple disorders. As neuroimaging procedures develop, this may eventually lead to better diagnosis and customized treatment.

7 Types of Anxiety and Depression

See if any of these seven types sound familiar to you.

They are proposed by Dr. Daniel Amen based on his SPECT scans. These types are not recognized by the medical community.

  • Type 1: Pure Anxiety: People who struggle with pure anxiety tend to feel anxious, tense, ner­vous and uncomfortable in their own skin. Often overwhelmed with feelings of panic, self-doubt, and predicting the worst, they also suffer from the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as muscle tension, nail biting, headaches, abdominal pain, racing heart, and shortness of breath. Pure anxiety is thought to be caused by low levels of the neurotransmitter GABA and high activity in the basal ganglia, insular cortex, and amygdala.
  • Type 2: Pure Depression: Typically characterized by persistent sadness, negativ­ity, and a loss of interest in things that are usually pleasurable, people with this type often have periods of crying for little reason, feelings of isolation or loneliness, sleep or appetite changes, low energy, low self-esteem, and even suicidal thoughts. This type can be caused by lower dopamine levels, overactivity in the deep limbic system, or low activity in the frontal lobes.
  • Type 3: Mixed Anxiety and Depression: This type is a combination of both pure anxiety and pure depression symp­toms. While both symptom clusters are present on a regular basis, one type may predominate at any point in time. Actually, pure anxiety and pure de­pression are pretty rare by themselves. Mixed anxiety and depression is very common, as anxiety and depression run together 75 per­cent of the time.
  • Type 4: Overfocused Anxiety and Depression: With this type, you tend to see features of anxiety and depression, plus a tendency to get stuck on anxious or depressing thoughts or negative behaviors. People with this type tend to worry, hold grudges, and be argumentative and critical. Typically, overfocused anxiety and depression is caused by too much activity in the anterior cingulate gyrus and lower serotonin levels. It tends to occur more frequently in children or grandchildren of alcoholics
  • Type 5: Temporal Lobe Anxiety and Depression: Often the result of a head injury or associated with seizures, this type can be associated with low GABA levels. Because the temporal lobes are very impor­tant for memory, moods, and emotions, problems in this part of the brain can cause people to have mood instability, irritability, mem­ory problems, and dark, frightening or evil thoughts. They might also have trouble reading social cues, experience frequent déjà vu, and misinterpret comments as negative when they are not.
  • Type 6: Cyclic Anxiety and Depression: This type in­cludes bipolar disorder, cyclothymia (milder mood swings), seasonal mood changes, and severe PMS, called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Times of stress can also trigger a cycle. As with the other types, cyclic anxiety and depression is a spectrum disor­der, meaning it may be a mild form, a very severe form, or anything in between. Some believe type 6 is related to lower levels of GABA, but it might also be caused by too much of an excitatory neurotransmitter called glutamate.
  • Type 7: Unfocused Anxiety and Depression: Commonly with this type, there is decreased activity in the brain, especially in the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain that helps with attention span, forethought, impulse control, organiza­tion, motivation, and planning. People with unfocused anxiety and depression often com­plain of low energy, brain fog, being inattentive, bored, impulsive, and exhibiting poor judgment. The causes of the lower activity in the brain may be the result of an injury, toxic exposure (such as mold), near-drowning, infec­tion, medications, an underlying attention deficit disorder, or other medi­cal illnesses.


    Amen DG, Trujillo M, Newberg A. Brain SPECT Imaging in Complex Psychiatric Cases: An Evidence-Based, Underutilized Tool. The Open Neuroimaging Journal. 2011;5:40-48. doi:10.2174/1874440001105010040.

    Insel T. Post by Former NIMH Director Thomas Insel: Brain Scans – Not Quite Ready for Prime Time. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/directors/thomas-insel/blog/2010/brain-scans-not-quite-ready-for-prime-time.shtml.

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