Treating Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal part of life, however, when it begins to interfere with everyday life it may become a serious problem. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health illness in the United States - affecting about 40 million Americans. The good news is that anxiety disorders are extremely treatable. If you are currently suffering from anxiety, please know that you can experience relief from your symptoms with the help of an experienced psychotherapist.

Alicia Eddy is clinically trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which is the leading treatment for anxiety disorders. This type of therapy examines the relationship between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to find practical solutions to boost your mental health. From the very first session, you will learn skills to reduce distressing thoughts, increase feelings of relaxation, decrease panic attacks, and learn behavioral strategies to take charge of your anxiety. Give us a call today to learn more about our treatment for anxiety.  

Types of Anxiety Disorders

People who suffer from anxiety experience a range of symptoms that affect their emotions and behaviors. Anxiety affects different people in different ways. Some people report feeling that their mind is "out of control" and filled with racing, repetitive, or intrusive thoughts that are very distressing. Others might engage in repetitive behaviors or rituals in an attempt to control their stress. For many, anxiety is manifested in physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pains, muscle tension, nausea, headaches, insomnia, and body pain. During a panic attack, all of these symptoms may be present accompanied by a feeling of impending doom or the fear of "going crazy." Some people begin to avoid certain places, people, or situations out of fear that they will have a panic attack. Below is a brief description of the most common anxiety disorders.  Regardless of how you are currently affected, the most important thing to know is that anxiety is very treatable. We can help. 

1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent feels of worry about a wide variety of things. People who suffer from GAD have a hard time controlling their worry. They may find themselves fearing the worst about things in their life even when there is no cause for concern. They predict that disaster is just over the horizon and often obsess about financial ruin, health problems, family relationships, their career, or other issues. Even the thought of getting through the day can overwhelm them. They might start to avoid social, family, or work situations due to anxiety. They often feel that their thoughts are out of control and totally overwhelming their mind. 

2. Social Anxiety Disorder

Those who suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder are consumed with the fear of being judged or scrutinized by others in social settings. Unlike mere shyness, they feel absolutely terrified that they will say or do the wrong thing and will begin avoiding social situations. If they do attend a social gathering, they will spend days before dreading and worrying about it and days after scrutinizing if they said the wrong thing or worrying about other people's impressions of them. Although they might realize this fear is unjustified, the anxiety is overwhelming and they feel helpless to control it. It can affect their daily routines, interfere with their ability to maintain relationships, and hinder their occupational performance. 

3. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic anxiety disorder in which a person experiences uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) or behaviors (compulsions) that they repeat over and over again. Obsessions are intrusive thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause intense distress. These repeating thoughts could include a persistent fear of germs or contamination, unwanted taboo thoughts of sex or religion, aggressive thoughts of harming oneself or others, or the need to have perfect order and symmetry. Compulsions are repeated behaviors that are done in response to an obsessive thought. Often times, these compulsions are accompanied by feeling that "something bad will happen" if these behaviors are not performed. Common examples of compulsions include excessive cleaning and/or hand washing, ordering items in a precise fashion, checking things repeatedly, and compulsive counting. 

4. Panic Attack Disorder

A panic attack is an intense feeling of fear or dread accompanied by physical symptoms including shortness of breath, numbness or tingling, pounding heartbeat, sweating, chest pains, hot or cold flashes, and feelings of detachment from the body. People often think that they are having a heart attack, are on the brink of death, or are going crazy during an attack. Typically, they only last 5-10 minutes but symptoms can last for hours on end. Since panic attacks can happen at any time, they can be very scary and overwhelming. People may begin to avoid certain places, situations, or people out of fear of having a panic attack. 

5. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop after a person has been exposed to a scary, life-threatening, or shocking event. After the trauma, a person may begin to feel fearful and "on edge"in situations that pose no danger and become hyper aware of their surroundings at all times. They may experience nightmares or flashbacks of the event. They might avoid places, situations, or people that remind them of the trauma. They may even have difficulty remembering the trauma and avoid thinking about it. Other symptoms include frightening thoughts, feeling of detachment, social withdrawal, depression, insomnia, angry outbursts, and feelings of guilt or shame. 

6. Phobias

A phobia is defined by a persistent fear of a specific object or situation. This fear is disproportionate to the danger that is actually posed and a person will go to great lengths to avoid the feared object or situation. Common phobias include a fear of heights, spiders, blood, and snakes. Agoraphobia is a fear of leaving one's home and of the panic attack that might follow. People suffering from agoraphobia often confine themselves to their home or a familiar  "safe spot" out of fear of having a panic attack. Phobias can be treated with exposure therapy, where one is gradually confronted with their feared object or situation while learning how to cope with the anxiety or distress. Over time, the anxiety and distress associated with the feared object or situation will diminish to the point where the person is no longer negatively affected.