Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorders including: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Anxiety Attacks (Panic Disorder), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Phobias, Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobias) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Have you, or someone close to you ever found yourself in a situation where all you wanted to do was to get away? Maybe you felt sweats, rapid heartbeat and/or shortness of breath? You might have thought that you were having a heart attack but later, it turned out it had been an anxiety attack.

Feeling anxiety symptoms is normal. It is a person’s natural way of responding to danger. When someone is in a potentially dangerous situation, their system notifies them by having them experience certain alarms. Often, anxiety is brief and/or passing as it comes from a life event that changes, like a test at school or a project at work. In cases such as this, people can begin to make lifestyle changes such as getting rest and eating a healthy diet, to cope until the life event (and their symptoms) go away.

Sometimes though, people begin to experience these symptoms repeatedly, when they are not in danger or when they just think about danger. Anxiety symptoms can be physical (i.e. sweating, pounding heartbeat, nausea, shortness of breath, trembling, fatigue) and/or emotional (feeling jumpy, afraid and worried, a sense of dread, trouble concentrating, restlessness, irritability, insomnia).

Some areas of anxiety are:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder- having anxiety and worry for at least six months about many things and being unable to control the worry that begins to interfere in important life functioning. Symptoms include: restlessness, fatigue, trouble concentrating, irritability, muscle tension and sleep difficulties.
  • Anxiety Attacks (Panic Disorder)-A period of severe fear/discomfort in which symptoms come on quickly and peak within 10 minutes. The symptoms include: fast/pounding heartbeat, sweating, trembling, feeling short of breath or like one is smothering, chest discomfort, nausea, unsteadiness, hot flashes.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder-Having obsessions (thoughts, impulses or images that will not go away) or compulsions (needing to do something to prevent/reduce distress or in response to obsessive thoughts (hand-washing, checking, counting).
  • Phobias-Fear that is triggered by a specific object or situation (i.e. heights, snakes, spiders, getting a shot, riding in an elevator) that interferes with their life and is endured with difficulty or avoided.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)-Fear of social or performance situations and consequently trying to avoid them (embarrassed to speak in public places, discomfort eating in public, etc.)
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder-Response to a severe event that has occurred in someone’s life. As a result of this/these event(s), individual may re-experience the event or be triggered to experience strong and uncomfortable feelings after the event is over. Symptoms may include: dreams, images, thoughts and flashbacks.

When symptoms of anxiety begin to interfere with living life, people may seek help. It is better to work on these problems early so that they may get better rather than continuing to interfere in someone’s life. Some sufferers of anxiety disorder self medicate, trying to numb themselves to their fear with alcohol, or using stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines to jolt them over the top and boost confidence. While these methods may help for a bit, eventually they compound the problem and never offer permanent relief.

At Psychological HealthCare anxiety disorders are commonly treated and effectively remedied using Cognitive Behavior Therapy, done individually or in group sessions.