Anxiety issues come in several forms and can truly affect one’s life. Anxiety is highly treatable through psychotherapy that includes behavior and thought changes, medication, or both. Some of the anxiety disorders include Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Social Phobias (Social Anxiety Disorder), and there are more.
Anxiety is defined by a state of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a realistic or fantasized threatening event or situation, often impairing physical and psychological functioning.
Anxiety can be described as overestimating the difficulty of a challenge, while at the same time underestimating one’s capability of dealing with that challenge.
The different disorders have more specific definitions:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: characterized by an overall anxious mood lasting at least one month and including such symptoms as jitteriness, sweating, feelings of catastrophe concerning one’s family or self, and irritability.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: characterized by the persistent intrusion of repetitive, unwanted thoughts which may be accompanied by compulsive actions, such as hand washing. The individual cannot voluntarily prevent these thoughts or actions, which interfere with normal functioning.
Panic Disorder: characterized by the occurrence of intense attacks of anxiety in specific circumstances and situations and by such symptoms as shortness of breath, chest pain, sweating, dizziness, and fear of dying or of losing mental functioning.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: An anxiety disorder affecting individuals who have experienced profound emotional trauma, characterized by recurrent flashbacks of the traumatic event, nightmares, eating disorders, anxiety, fatigue, forgetfulness, and social withdrawal.
Social Anxiety Disorder: characterized by shyness and heightened self-consciousness in particular social situations.
Some physiological symptoms of anxiety include:
- muscle tension
- a change in eating habits
- rapid heartbeat
- dry mouth
- tingling sensations
Some psychological symptoms include:
- chronic worry
- persistent, recurring thoughts that reflect exaggerated and irrational fear
- fears of “going crazy”
- fears of having recurring panic attacks
Some behavioral symptoms include:
- avoiding going to places where panic attacks have occurred before or where escape would be difficult
- performing rituals or routines in an attempt to relieve persistent recurring anxious thoughts
- avoidance of everyday common situations
Why is it Important to Deal with Anxiety?
It is important to deal with anxiety because it affects your whole being. It can sabotage your ability to act, express yourself, or deal with certain everyday situations. It can affect your work and relationships and lead to other problems.
There are many self-help workbooks for dealing with Anxiety, which can be done on your own. One of these is The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne. However, the best way to effectively manage and treat anxiety is seek out professional help in the form of a qualified therapist, and possibly a qualified physician to do a medication evaluation.
Stacey Wald, LPC, RD
Swald @ growcounseling.com