You don't have to suffer in silence or avoid the many aspects of your life that were once fulfilling. Asking for help can cause anxiety for sure, but finding the right therapist and therapeutic options can end or greatly reduce your suffering. Anxiety can be as problematic as background noise in your life or it can be truly debilitating -- interfering with relationships, work, leisure, family time and social experiences. Life can become small and restricted for individuals trying to tame their symptoms of panic and chronic anxiety. How do you know when to seek treatment for your anxiety? When it's interfering with the quality of your life and you're spending your days managing your symptoms. When you are experiencing panic attacks, it's very important to enter therapy or counseling as panic can easily lead to avoidance of situations and sometimes even agoraphobia. Anxiety is treatable -- whether it's creative or writer's bock, performance, fear of flying, phobias, nagging worries or full-blown panic disorder. I'm experienced with helping people manage and get to the root of their anxiety problems and use or suggest many creative tools such as yoga, meditation, progressive relaxation, guided imagery, CBT, hypnosis, EMDR and other helpful techniques.
What are some common symptoms of anxiety disorders?
- Difficulty sleeping
- Panic attacks
- Isolation and avoidance
- Inability to concentrate and/or make decisions
- Obsessive thoughts
- Eating Problems
- Physical symptoms
More about anxiety disorders
Anxiety disorders are broadly defined as irrational fears of situations or particular objects marked by an intense physical or emotional response. Anxiety disorders often co-exist with other disorders, such as depression, mood disorders, personality disorders and drug or alcohol addiction. The American Psychological Association (APA) recognizes seven anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), social phobic disorder and specific phobic disorder.
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) - GAD is defined as excessive worry about any number of things. Any situation, event, thought, word or object can produce anxiety. The symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include a feeling of being on edge, tense muscles, difficulty sleeping, an inability to focus, irritability and fatigue.
- Panic disorder - Panic attacks are more intense and brief when compared to episodes experienced by generalized anxiety disorder sufferers. Panic disorder is characterized by abrupt panic attacks that last from a minute to under an hour. Panic attacks are a false activation of the "fight or flight" response, which is the body’s natural physical reaction to fear. A person suffering from a panic attack will experience real physical symptoms of distress such as increased heart rate, numbness in the arms and legs and difficulty breathing. Often, people who suffer from panic attacks believe that they are having a heart attack or about to die.
- Agoraphobia - Agoraphobia can co-exist with panic disorder and can develop when panic disorder is left untreated. An agoraphobic person fears travel in cars, buses, trains or planes, and fears public places or particular situations. The severity of agoraphobia varies among individual sufferers, but it can become very debilitating. Sometimes, agoraphobia can become so severe that a person will refuse to leave his or her home. Sufferers of agoraphobia generally fear that they will have a panic attack or become ill in public and they begin to restrict any and all activities that they believe might provoke a panic attack.
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) - OCD incorporates anxiety with behavioral components. OCD is characterized by unwanted, uncontrollable thoughts that persistently recur, which are termed obsessions. These obsessions are accompanied by behaviors, which are called compulsions. A person with OCD tries to negate or control his or her obsessive thoughts with compulsive behaviors such as frequent hand washing, turning lights on and off, repeating a specific word a certain number of times, ordering, organizing and so on. OCD often occurs along with other forms of anxiety disorders, especially generalized anxiety and panic disorder.
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - Is an anxiety disorder that is caused by a traumatic event in a person’s life, such as witnessing a terrible accident, natural disaster, abuse or war. A person with PTSD frequently re-experiences the traumatic event, which induces fear and anxiety. This can lead to avoidance of situations, panic attacks, general uneasiness, depression and withdrawal from activities and people.
- Social phobia - Social phobia is characterized by an irrational fear of social situations and interactions with other people. Usually, a person with social phobia is disproportionately afraid of how he or she will act in the company of others. Those with social phobia suffer from a fear of embarrassing or humiliating themselves, rather than a fear of other people causing them harm.
- Specific phobia - A person with specific phobia might be terrified of a spider, a dog or a bird, or may be frightened by heights, water or the dark. Although many people are uneasy about specific objects or become nervous around other people, true phobias are debilitating to the point of affecting a person’s quality of life and ability to perform daily activities.
A variety of therapies are helpful for helping people manage and reduce anxiety symptoms. Often, a combination of psychotherapy and medication can help people get back into their lives.