Anxiety is a normal, natural emotion. Anxiety helps us cope with tense situations, and can motivate us to work harder or stay focused on solving issues that we are facing. When anxiety interferes with our ability to function in daily life, at work, at school, and in relationships, it may be due to a condition called anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders affect 40 million Americans each year. Unlike the anxiety caused by a single stressful event, anxiety disorders last 6 months or more and can get worse if not treated. Many people who are faced with anxiety issues are successful in treatment and are able to live normal lives.
Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
Each person suffering from anxiety disorder has unique symptoms; however a common theme involves excessive anxiety, irrational fear and dread. Some examples of anxiety symptoms include:
- Feelings of panic, fear, and nervousness
- Uncontrollable, obsessive thinking
- Repeated thoughts or “flashbacks” of traumatic events
- Nightmares, problems sleeping
- Irrational ritualistic behaviors, such as repeated hand washing
- Excessive sweating or numbness in the hands or feet
- Shortness of breath, hyperventilation
- Chest pain or Heart Palpitations
- An inability to be still and calm
- Dry mouth, Nausea, Dizziness
There are several types of recognized anxiety disorders:
- Panic Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
- Specific Phobias
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Anxiety Treatment Approaches
Anxiety disorder is a very treatable mental illness. However, if left untreated anxiety can become debilitating or even lead to serious physical illnesses.
Anxiety disorders typically respond very well to treatment. Many individuals who seek treatment go on to lead healthy, productive lives. Specific treatment approachs used will depend on the type of anxiety disorder, its severity, and personal preferences. Most anxiety disorders are treated with different forms of therapy.
Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT)– Focuses on identifying the thoughts that lead to feelings of anxiety and correcting or re-purposing the thinking process toward a more positive response.
New research suggests there are a number of additional treatments that can help enhance the primary form of treatment. And in mild anxiety disorder cases, tactics such as exercise and meditation may provide sufficient relief on their own.
- Social Support Network – A compassionate and understanding social support network can be instrumental in the recovery of a person with an anxiety disorder. Close personal relationships with family, friends and the community is directly linked to a person’s general sense of well-being. Positive feedback and support can help motivate a person to stay the course of treatment. In addition, many people with anxiety disorders benefit from joining a support group or online support community. Swapping stories of success and failure can lead to some very important self-awareness improvements and inspiration. However, advice from friends should never be used as a substitute for care from a mental health counselor.
- Healthy Lifestyle – Eating well, avoiding caffeine and other stimulants, and regular exercise can provide significant anxiety relief. A person’s physical well-being is directly linked to their mental and emotional well-being. In addition, stress management techniques and meditation, when practiced regularly, can help people with anxiety disorders to calm themselves and may enhance the effects of therapy.
If you need help or know someone who needs help with anxiety, please contact me by phone at 980-689-1794 or by email at [email protected]. I offer both in-person and online counseling for individuals suffering from anxiety. Call today for a free phone consultation.