Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying.Anxiety disorders affect how we feel and behave, and they can manifest real physical symptoms. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating, having a serious impact on daily life.
Many people experience a general state of worry or fear before confronting a challenging event such as a test, examination, recital, or interview. These feelings are easily justified and considered normal. Anxiety is considered a problem when symptoms interfere with a person’s ability to sleep or otherwise function. Anxiety occurs when a reaction is out of proportion with what might be normally expected in a situation.
Anxiety Disorder treatment path depends on the cause of the anxiety and the patient’s preferences. Often treatments will consist of a combination of psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, and medications.
Sometimes depression, alcoholism, or other coexisting conditions have such a strong effect on the individual that treating the anxiety disorder must wait until the coexisting conditions are brought under control.
A standard method of treating anxiety is with psychological counseling. This can include cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, or a combination of therapies.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) aims to recognize and change the patient’s thinking patterns that are associated with the anxiety and troublesome feelings. This type of therapy has two main parts: a cognitive part designed to limit distorted thinking and a behavioral part designed to change the way people react to the objects or situations that trigger anxiety.
A client undergoing cognitive-behavioral therapy for panic disorder might work on learning that panic attacks are not really heart attacks. Those receiving this treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder for cleanliness may work with a therapist to get their hands dirty and wait increasingly longer amounts of time before washing them. Post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers will work with a therapist to recall the traumatic event in a safe situation to alleviate the fear it produces. Exposure-based therapies such as CBT essentially have people confront their fears and try to help them become desensitized to anxiety-triggering situations
Psychotherapy is another type of counseling treatment for anxiety disorders. It consists of talking with a trained mental health professional, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or other counselor. Sessions may be used to explore the causes of anxiety and possible ways to cope with symptoms.
There are six major types of anxiety disorders including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Social Anxiety Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a chronic disorder characterized by excessive, long-lasting anxiety and worry about nonspecific life events, objects, and situations. GAD sufferers often feel afraid and worry about health, money, family, work, or school, but they have trouble both identifying the specific fear and controlling the worries. Their fear is usually unrealistic or out of proportion with what may be expected in their situation. Sufferers expect failure and disaster to the point that it interferes with daily functions like work, school, social activities, and relationships.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by thoughts or actions that are repetitive, distressing, and intrusive. OCD suffers usually know that their compulsions are unreasonable or irrational, but they serve to alleviate their anxiety. Often, the logic of someone with OCD will appear superstitious, such as an insistence in walking in a certain pattern. OCD sufferers may obsessively clean personal items or hands or constantly check locks, stoves, or light switches.
- Panic Disorder is a type of anxiety characterized by brief or sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension that leads to shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty breathing. Panic attacks tend to arise abruptly and peak after 10 minutes, but they then may last for hours. Panic disorders usually occur after frightening experiences or prolonged stress, but they can be spontaneous as well. A panic attack may lead an individual to be acutely aware of any change in normal body function, interpreting it as a life threatening illness – hypervigiliance followed by hypochondriasis. In addition, panic attacks lead a sufferer to expect future attacks, which may cause drastic behavioral changes in order to avoid these attacks.
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is anxiety that results from previous trauma such as military combat, rape, hostage situations, or a serious accident. PTSD often leads to flashbacks and behavioral changes in order to avoid certain stimuli.
- Social Anxiety Disorder is a type of social phobia characterized by a fear of being negatively judged by others or a fear of public embarrassment due to impulsive actions. This includes feelings such as stage fright, a fear of intimacy, and a fear of humiliation. This disorder can cause people to avoid public situations and human contact to the point that normal life is rendered impossible.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder is characterized by high levels of anxiety when separated from a person or place that provides feelings of security or safety. Sometimes separation results in panic, and it is considered a disorder when the response is excessive or inappropriate.
Counseling is basically a collaborative effort between you and your counselor. Our goal is to provide an open, supportive, and confidential environment for you to address the issues that are concerning you. To schedule a free email consultation, simply contact us.
When to seek Anxiety Disorder CounselingIf you believe, or those around you believe, that your symptoms may be impairing your life in troubling ways, then it may be time to seek help. There are treatments available to assist you in managing your symptoms and improving your quality of life.