What is Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion. We feel it when faced with a situation that is dangerous or stressful. It manifests as a feeling of tension, worried thoughts, or certain physical symptoms, such as an increase in heart rate or adrenaline levels. If anxiety produces distress in an individual, that does not mean they have a disorder. If you encounter a poisonous snake suddenly, and you have an acute reaction of anxiety, then your body is telling you what you need to know.
Anxiety Disorder is a much different animal. Anxiety disorder is defined as a mental health disorder characterized by feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities. An individual suffering from anxiety disorder has symptoms such as:
- Uncontrolled feelings of worry
- Feeling constantly on edge; restless
- A lack of concentration
- Trouble sleeping
A key thing to remember here is that the individual is experiencing these symptoms even though it appears there is nothing happening to provoke them.
How many Types of Anxiety are there?
Anxiety disorders fall into four main classifications. They are:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Social Anxiety Disorder (or Social Phobia)
- Panic Disorder
- Specific Phobias
To determine which of these you may have, seek help from a licensed mental healthcare practitioner. An effective EMDR therapist will be able to assess your medical history and conduct a thorough evaluation of your symptoms. With a correct diagnosis, treatment may not be swift or easy, but it should yield results.
Reach Out When You're Ready.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder has the symptoms described above. The individual feels unwarranted or unwanted tension, worry, and/or fear, as well as the physiological symptoms that accompany those feelings. These symptoms can be an ongoing distraction. In any case, with GAD, they become disruptive to everyday life.
Treatment for GAD tends to revolve around therapy, with the goal being to get the patient feeling comfortable talking about their situation. By sharing their story the patient should get to a new level of comfort sooner or later. With comfort comes confidence, and that should reduce fear and worry. Medication is used sometimes, as are certain self-help strategies, and non-traditional therapies that people use for relaxation.
Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)
Someone with a social anxiety disorder feels incredibly insecure or uncomfortable in social situations. The person may feel self-conscious overall, or in specific situations, such as when giving a keynote speech, or when eating or drinking with people. In severe cases, the individual feels insecure around other people in general; such people tend to stay in hiding.
Treatment for social anxiety disorder generally involves talk therapy, exposure therapy and sometimes medication. Talk therapy is helpful, because by sharing experiences with another human being, the patient is not only building trust, but also getting vulnerable about a key problem in his or her life. If the patient continues to build trust with new people, he or she will make great progress in overcoming insecurity. Certain antidepressants are also very effective in helping patients become more comfortable around others.
Panic Disorder is a condition in which the individual suffers from recurrent unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is defined as a sudden surge of fear or discomfort that can last for minutes, and will have any number of physiological symptoms. A person with panic disorder lives with a measure of fear of having another panic attack.
The physiological symptoms of a panic attack may include:
- Pounding or racing heart
- Elevated blood pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Upset stomach/Nausea
- Inability to speak
- Rapid speech
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Dry mouth
- Chest pain or discomfort
- A choking sensation
- A sense of impending doom
Often what happens during a panic attack is that the person grows increasingly focused on and concerned by these physiological symptoms. In a sense, they develop anxiety about their anxiety, leading to increasing levels of bodily activation.
Awareness and lifestyle changes can help to reduce anxiety and panic attacks. Everything from reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption to getting more exercise, sleep and meditation can have a significant impact on reducing one’s incidence of panic attacks. But if an individual still has trouble getting them under control, there are medications and therapies that work well. A support group is another way to find the encouragement needed to stay faithful to your plan and help others as well.
A phobia is a type of panic disorder in which the individual is acutely afraid of a specific situation or thing. This fear often defies rationality, and can produce strong physical symptoms, as with a panic attack. Some phobias are highly unusual, such as deipnophobia, the fear of dinner conversations. Here is a list of some of the more common phobias:
Arachnophobia – Fear of spiders
Ophidiophobia – Fear of snakes
Acrophobia – Fear of heights
Agoraphobia – Fear of situations from which escape is difficult
Trypanophobia – Fear of Injections
Mysophobia – Fear of germs, or dirt
Astraphobia – Fear of thunder and lightning
Pteromerhanophobia – Fear of flying
Cynophobia – Fear of dogs
Dentophobia – Fear of dentists
To treat a phobia, many therapists turn to something called exposure therapy, in which the individual slowly changes his or her response to the thing that is feared by gradually facing it in a controlled setting. Cognitive behavioral therapy is another method that works well for overcoming a phobia, especially when combined with exposure therapy. Certain medications such as beta blockers or sedatives can also be used in the short term; taking a sedative on a long flight when the individual is afraid to fly is an example.
Call Jim Brillon, Orange County’s expert in Anxiety Relief
Jim Brillon has served all of Orange County for many years, and has seen more than his fair share of patients suffering from anxiety disorders.
If you or someone you know suffers from one of these conditions, give our office a call and schedule an appointment. Jim has plenty of experience helping people learn how to manage their emotions and triggers, overcome fear, and gain a new sense of confidence. Battling anxiety can be very stressful and problematic, but you don’t have to go it alone.
Get Jim Brillon in your corner, and learn how you can develop a whole new level of comfort.