Symptoms of anxiety are related to feelings of fear. Although fear is part of a gamut of human emotions, anxiety is more than just fear and can be debilitating. Anxiety symptoms frequently involve emotional aspects (feelings), physical aspects (body sensations), and cognitive aspects (fear based thoughts). Although anxiety can be debilitating, it is not lethal.
What Causes Anxiety?
The cause for the anxiety varies. It is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some people are naturally born with a more sensitive nervous system and may be more prone to anxiety. Those people may need additional tools to manage their sensitivity. For some, the origins of anxiety might be related to negative life experiences such as various traumas like being a victim of bulling, sexual and physical abuse, difficult upbringing or family interactions, or other negative experiences.
Therapy for Anxiety
The goal of therapy for anxiety disorders is to help clients to become less afraid. I teach coping strategies that will help you to address emotional, physical, and cognitive aspects of the anxiety. We will also talk about anxiety tolerance – becoming more comfortable with the anxiety and gaining control over the symptom and reducing the avoidance behavior. In addition, we will explore and address the underlying causes for anxiety such trauma, family of origin, difficult life transition, and so forth. Other factors such as life-style, nutrition, exercise, sleep, and self-care habits will also be addressed.
Things you can do:
- Big 3 – sleep, nutrition, and exercise – basic self-care
- Body techniques - belly breathing, yoga, acupuncture
- Meditation & mindfulness
- Challenge negative thinking
- Approach vs. avoid
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
GAD is characterized by excessive anxiety or worry about events or circumstances of everyday living such as work, school, finances, safety, health, daily routines, timeliness, health of children and family members. The worries are typically difficult to control and are disproportionate to the actual threat or a likelihood of anticipated negative outcomes. The worry can switch from one concern to another. Other symptoms may include restlessness, feeling keyed or on edge, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Strong fear and/or avoidance of one or more social situations in which a person might be exposed to scrutiny by others. Examples may include fear of acting, performing, presenting in public, meeting new people, urinating in public, interviewing for a job, talking to people in authority, test taking, making phone calls, eating in public, and others. The individual is concerned that they will be judged as week, crazy, stupid, boring, incompetent, or unlikable.
Irrational or unreasonable fear of an object or a situation that poses no real threat. Common categories of phobias are: situations (flying, enclosed spaces, being at a dentist, going to school), nature (thunderstorms or heights), animals or insects (dogs, snakes, spiders), blood or injection (needles, medical procedures), others such as choking, vomiting, loud noises, crowds etc. Typically, the feared object or situation poses no real danger, however, a person is unable to control or let go of the fear. They tend to avoid the feared situation or object, which can cause issues at work, school, and socially.