Living with anxiety stinks. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) over 40 million adults are suffering with anxiety. In particular, young people are experiencing an explosion in anxiety symptoms. In one study, an estimated 31.9% of adolescents aged 13-18 have a diagnosable anxiety disorder. What’s more, COVID-19 has brought a whole new list of legitimate worries to people’s lives and the rise in anxiety disorders is skyrocketing.
Humans were made to feel some anxiety. We have a built-in “fight or flight” response which helps us when we are faced with life-threatening situations. For example, an extreme example of this might be being chased by a lion or an alligator! While most of us (hopefully) rarely face this kind of life-or-death situation in our daily living, for some of us, our bodies and minds feel like we are in a life-threatening situation every day. Anxiety can be described as that lingering fear response when you’re not in any actual physical danger.
What is anxiety?
Common symptoms include:
- feeling restless, on edge, wound up,
- feeling easily tired, exhausted,
- difficulty concentrating and focusing,
- quick to irritate, often frustrated,
- body aches and muscle tension,
- sleep problems that may include difficulty falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep,
- nausea and stomach issues
- headaches, and
- Isolating and withdrawing.
Some people may suffer from panic attacks which can cause:
- heart palpitations,
- sweaty palms,
- shakiness and dizziness,
- flushing and tingling in extremities and face,
- shortness of breath, difficulty breathing,
- feelings of intense fear, and
- feeling loss of control.
Types of Anxiety
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
People with GAD suffer from excessive and uncontrolled worry most of the day. For them, this worry has been going on for at least six months and feels out of control. The worry can be about anything in the person’s life, for example, a job, family, money, health, etc. Because the fear and anxiety cause a problem in the person’s daily functioning, they may be struggling in their relationships, in their job, and with taking care of themselves with proper sleep, diet, and exercise.
People with panic disorder often get caught up in trying to avoid another panic attack. Because of this, panic attack sufferers go through a vicious cycle of worrying about panic attacks and withdrawing from people, places, and things that trigger panic attacks. This can lead to major problems in a life functioning and more serious conditions like agoraphobia.
Social Anxiety Disorder
People with social anxiety are afraid of social situations. For these people, the fear and worry leads them to avoid social situations altogether.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
People with separation anxiety are fearful of separating from those they are attached to. This fear is not age appropriate and causes distress in the person’s everyday functioning in life.
People with agoraphobia have a fear of panic attacks or being unable to escape a situation outside of the home. This fear happens in two or more of the following situations: using public transportation, being in open spaces, being in enclosed spaces, standing in line or being in a crowd, being outside the home alone.
Is my situation normal, or do I need to get help?
It can be confusing to determine when to seek help. Some may think that their situation is just an inevitable part of their daily lives and that they will live with it forever. Anxiety is very common. Many people cannot recall ever living without it. Anxiety disorders are believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and external factors. It’s more common in those with a biological relative that has anxiety, but it really can develop in anyone at any time. We all seem to be worrying more as our world becomes more and more stressful. We are living in troubling times that contribute to people’s heightened worry and stress.
The answer to the question of “Do I need help?” is simple – is your anxiety bothering you? Is it stopping you from living the life you want? If the answers to these questions is “Yes,” then it’s time to do something about it now.
Anxiety does not get better on its own. Often it becomes a cycle that feeds upon itself and can escalate in times of great stress. We were not taught how to cope with anxiety or how to relax. Taking a bubble bath does not address the underlying causes of chronic anxiety. As a therapist I have witnessed the powerful transformation that clients make with expert support and intervention.
Anxiety therapy does help.
When you have anxiety, everything you do seems harder than it should. For example, it’s difficult to force yourself to do the things that you love. Also, It may feel overwhelming to even pick up the phone to call for help. Life is precious. You may have spent years living and suffering with anxiety, but you don’t have to. Don’t spend another second held hostage by your anxiety. By getting help for your anxiety, you can once again pursue your dreams, find connections with people, and regain your freedom. What could be more valuable than taking that next step to invest in yourself and gain control of your life?
What does anxiety therapy look like?
Whether you’re suffering from panic attacks, social anxiety, separation anxiety, unrelenting worries, or an incapacitating phobia – it is important to know that you do not have to live this way any longer. When you start therapy, a trained psychotherapist will begin with an in-depth assessment of what is causing you the most distress. Your therapist will then ask you what your goals are for the future. For example, your therapist may ask, “What do you want to change?” Once you and your therapist understand your unique situation, you can develop a treatment approach that best suits your needs. From there, your personalized action plan will involve learning skills that you will practice between sessions.
The relationship you develop with your therapist is special. There is absolutely no judgement. Your therapist is there for you. Having worked with many clients struggling with anxiety, I’ve witnessed the benefits of having the extra support and guidance of a psychotherapist on the road to an anxiety free life. Your anxiety really is treatable.
Do I have to take medication?
Medication is not always necessary to treat anxiety. But for some people with a chemical imbalance, anxiety medication may be useful in combination with psychotherapy. Nonetheless, many of our clients are able to overcome their anxiety without medication. In short, the decision to take medication is something you may discuss in psychotherapy. But regardless of what is discussed, you are always in control of where your treatment goes. In other words, your therapist will never pressure you to go in a direction that you are uncomfortable with.
Many people with anxiety disorders also either develop or have coexisting mental health conditions. Anxiety may worsen when combined with depression, substance abuse, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, eating disorders, and/or insomnia.
You can say goodbye to anxiety. Take the next step!
Think anxiety therapy is right for you? Simply call us today and set up a free consultation. We are here to help you live an anxiety free life.