ANXIETY DISORDERS

Do you lay awake all night unable to turn off the thoughts. Do your fears interfere with your everyday life?  Are these feelings persistent and unexpected? Do your anxiety symptoms cause continuous feelings of dread or worry? Have you had panic attacks? 

Anxiety may simply be described as a state of uneasiness, a state of worry or becoming apprehensive in the face of uncertain fear.  The anxiety symptoms are the result of a person's behavior and not the because of biological, chemical or genetic problems of the brain.

Anxiety is normal. Some anxiety can be constructive. We all feel anxious from time to time; worrying about a test, going on a job interview, playing in a championship game. Anxiety disorders are when anxiety symptoms interfere with normal lifestyle. When the body is overly stressed it responds with signs and symptoms of anxiety, creating a fight-or-flight response. Some of these anxiety symptoms include:

  • Feelings of panic or irrational fears
  • Sleep problems
  • Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
  • Heart palpitations/chest pains
  • Restlessness/inability to relax
  • Muscle tension
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive worry
  • Self doubt
  • Stomach upset
  • Nausea
  • Feelings of weakness

TYPES OF ANXIETY

Panic disorder - feelings of terror which happen suddenly and repeatedly without warning. There is a fear of disaster and losing control. Responses are out of proportion with the reality of the situation. These sudden attacks may last several minutes with symptoms lasting longer. Often creating feelings of dread about having another attack. 

Social Phobia - overwhelming worry about every day social situations and interacting with others. It is normal to feel anxious in some social situations. You may feel as if you have butterflies in your stomach before a date or giving a speech. With social phobia there is the feeling of being judged, therefore avoiding social situations. 

Specific Phobia - intense fear of a specific situation or object such as fear of flying, heights, snakes. The response is usually inappropriate to the situation. Normal fear can protect you from danger. A phobia generally has nothing to do with actual danger. 

General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) - GAD is characterized by excessive, unrealistic worry, even with little cause to provoke the anxiety. It usually centers around everyday events with no obvious reason for the response. It often dominates your thinking

With any ongoing feeling of anxiety, the first thing to do is to have an initial screening/physical with your physician to rule out any medical concerns. If necessary a referral can be made to a mental health professional (Psychiatrist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, or Psychologist). These professionals will address the problem with approaches to help reduce symptoms of anxiety. These may include medication to reduce symptoms and/or psychotherapy to address the emotional responses with strategies to help understand and reduce symptoms.

It is best to get treatment for anxiety as early as possible for the best recovery. As a psychotherapist I've been able to help many people work through their problems, develop coping skills and help get control over their lives. Effective anxiety treatment may include mental health therapy, medications, alternate therapies. There is no magic answer for curing symptoms of anxiety. But it does require commitment and time.