With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things.
– William Wordsworth
Anxiety Disorders & Therapy
Anxiety and fears are sometimes a normal part of life. For example, it is usual to feel some anxiety just before speaking in public. It may cause you to become more alert, pay more attention to your actions, and thus add a positive dimension to your presentation.
Other types of anxiety are adaptive to a specific situation. These are sometimes called “signal anxiety” and again, can be natural. For example, being anxious when walking down a dimly lit street may guide you to be more alert, and thus enhance your safety.
Anxiety becomes a problem when it is overwhelming or interferes with your functioning in life. If you feel anxious much of the time, and it is having a negative impact on your career, family, social life or general quality of life that may be a good reason for concern. Anxiety Attacks – or what are commonly called Panic Attacks – are also NOT a normal part of life.
If anxiety is having a negative effect on your life, please contact me to set up a consultation to discuss your concerns.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Rituals such as hand washing, counting, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety.
Panic Disorder manifests as unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened; e.g. violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.
For people with Social Phobia, or Social Anxiety Disorder, everyday social situations cause overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness. Social phobia can be limited to only one type of situation – such as a fear of public speaking – or may be so broad that a person experiences symptoms almost anytime they are around other people.
A phobia is an excessive fear of, or aversion to, specific objects or situations. The fear people with phobias feel is both irrational and disproportional to the actual danger caused by the feared situation or object.
Anxiety is a normal part of childhood and adolescence, and every child goes through phases that are usually harmless and temporary. But children who suffer from an anxiety disorder experience fear, nervousness, and shyness, they start to avoid places and activities, and they are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse.
Trauma. Adults who experience a traumatic event also can develop anxiety disorders. Children who endured abuse or trauma or witnessed traumatic events are at higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
Health-related Stress. A health condition or serious illness can cause significant worry about specific issues such as medical treatment, and general anxiety about the future. Stress buildup. A single major triggering event or a buildup of small stressful life situations may trigger excessive anxiety; for example, work stress, financial concerns, a death in the family.
Personality. People with certain personality types are more susceptible to anxiety disorders than others.
Other mental health disorders. People with other mental health disorders, such as depression, often also have an anxiety disorder.
Blood relatives with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can run in families.
Drugs or alcohol. Drug or alcohol use can cause or worsen anxiety.
Complications of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders can also lead to, or worsen, other mental and physical conditions, such as:
Depression or other mental health disorders
Chronic pain and/or headaches
Difficulty functioning at school or work
Poor quality of life
Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
Psychotherapy, sometimes referred to as “talk therapy” or counseling, is a vital component of treating anxiety disorders. There are a variety of specific psychotherapeutic approaches that can be explored in the treatment of anxiety disorders, including:
Medication does not cure anxiety disorders but can help relieve their symptoms. Antidepressants and/or anti-anxiety medications may be used to treat the symptoms of panic disorder. Every individual will react to various medications in their own way, and several different medications, or combinations of medications, may be tried before finding one that improves symptoms with manageable side effects.