Anxiety Disorders

Understanding Anxiety Disorders

     Anxiety disorders are more than just being nervous about a job interview or worried about your family finances. An anxiety disorder is a worry that takes over your life. You can’t escape from it.  It’s always on your mind and continues to grow over time until it interferes with all the activities of your life—your job, school, your relationships, everything. The anxiety so consumes you that you can’t eat, breathe, sleep, open, or close your eyes without knowing it’s there, feeling its presence and the weight of it crushing your very being. It consumes who you are.

     There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and various phobia-related disorders.

 

Anxiety disorder treatment plans include both psychotherapy and medication management in most cases. Individuals need to find a doctor with whom they feel comfortable being able to discuss their innermost fears and thoughts for treatment to be successful. They must have someone they trust. Once that trusting relationship is in place, then they work together to determine the best use of medication, therapy, and support for the individual treatment plan.

Psychotherapy or “talk therapy” helps individuals with anxiety disorders work through the issues at the route of their anxiety.

Cognitive therapy teaches the individual to face their anxiety by thinking about, behaving, and reacting to the object generating the fear or anxiety. The person learns social skills to help them cope in public situations and practices appropriate responses to triggers they encounter.

Exposure therapy focuses on confronting the fears underlying an anxiety disorder to help people engage in activities they previously avoided. Over time, the object of anxiety is gradually introduced more and more to the individual, allowing them to become desensitized to the anxiety-producing obstacle. Exposure therapy works in association with relaxation exercises and imagery.

Though medication cannot cure anxiety disorders, they can help the individual manage the symptoms of anxiety, which in turn improves their ability to cope with life. The most common classes of medication used for anti-anxiety drugs are benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and beta-blockers.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

     People with a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) display excessive anxiety or worry, daily for at least six months, about numerous concerns such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday life. The fear and anxiety take over and creates significant problems in all areas of their life.

 

  • Heart palpitations, a pounding heartbeat, or an accelerated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sensations of shortness of breath, smothering or choking
  • Feelings of impending doom
  • Feelings of being out of control
  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank
  • Being irritable
  • Having muscle tension
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep

Panic Disorder

     People with panic disorder have recurrent unexpected panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear that come on quickly and reach their peak within minutes. Attacks occur unexpectedly or can be brought on by a trigger, such as a feared object or situation.

     People with panic disorder often worry about when the next attack will happen and actively try to prevent future attacks by avoiding places, situations, or behaviors they associate with panic attacks. Worry about panic attacks, and the effort spent trying to avoid attacks, cause significant problems in a person’s life.

 

  • Heart palpitations, a pounding heartbeat, or an accelerated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sensations of shortness of breath, smothering or choking
  • Feelings of impending doom
  • Feelings of being out of control