– Anxiety –
It’s a normal part of life. It’s common to feel some amount of anxiety when faced with mounting schoolwork or problems at the workplace. Concerns about the safety and well-being of friends and family also provide countless anxious moments in our daily lives.
People commonly suffer from various anxiety disorders including:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety disorders
Garry Waterman is a licensed social worker who can help address the root causes of your anxiety and devise an effective treatment plan to help improve your mental health.
Signs and Symptoms
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Those who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder experience persistent anxiety or worry for months and exhibit a host of anxiety-related symptoms:
- Restlessness or feeling on edge
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty controlling worrying
- Excessive irritability
- Muscle tension
- Being easily fatigued
- Sleep problems
Those who suffer from panic disorder have recurrent, unexpected panic attacks. These are sudden periods of intense fear that can include:
- Increased heart rate or palpitations
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath or choking
- Feeling of impending doom
Symptoms of panic disorder include:
- Sudden and repeated attacks of intense fear
- Feelings of being out of control
- Worrying about the next attack
- Fear of places where past panic attacks occurred
Social Anxiety Disorder
Those who suffer from social anxiety disorder have a notable fear of social or performance situations. When in these situations, they tend to feel:
- Fearful of offending others
Symptoms of this disorder include:
- Avoiding social gatherings
- Always feeling judged by others
- Having difficulty conversing in social situations
- Feeling highly self-conscious in front of other people
- Worrying excessively about upcoming social events
- Feeling ill when other people are around
Other anxieties include and not limited to:
- Fear of the dark
- Fear of heights
- Fear of flying
- Fear of animals
- Fear of germs
- Fear of water
- and more
Treatments and Therapies
Anxiety disorders are most commonly treated with psychotherapy, medication or both.
Psychotherapy is a way of talking people through their problems. Psychotherapy is directed at a person’s specific anxieties and tailored to individual needs. This is most commonly done through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), prolonged exposure therapy or directed practice of mindfulness/meditation.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on ways to neutralize unhelpful thoughts and underlying anxiety disorders.
- T.E.A.M. Therapy (Testing. Empathy. Paradoxical Agenda Setting. Methods.) builds on CBT by offering additional psychotherapy techniques. T.E.A.M. empowers the patient to set the agenda at therapy sessions and work as a partner with an empathetic therapist to achieve goals.
- Prolonged exposure therapy focuses on confronting the underlying fears causing an anxiety disorder in order to help individuals take part in activities they have been avoiding.
- Mindfulness/meditation focuses on training individuals to be aware (mindful) of direct experiences in order to assess situations in the moment and contemplate the implications of situations before taking action.
Medication is not a cure for anxiety disorders but it can relieve symptoms. Medication is sometimes prescribed by a qualified medical professional or psychologist during the initial treatment of an anxiety disorder.
Antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs and beta-blockers are the most common classes of medications used to combat anxieties. Any prescribed medication should be taken only as directed.
A combination of genetic and environmental influences may be risk factors for these disorders. Specific factors can include:
- Lacking adequate economic resources
- Being recently divorced or widowed
- Childhood shyness or behavioral inhibition
- Exposure to stressful life events
- Family history of anxiety or mental disorders