Anxiety is an important part of our makeup as humans. It helps us get out of harm’s way, prepare for critical events, and it warns us when we need to take action to protect ourselves, or those we love. Anxiety that is persistent, seemingly uncontrollable, and overwhelming falls into a different category.
If you or your child’s anxiety is chronic and excessive, or interferes with daily activities and relationships, it may be an anxiety disorder. Researchers are learning that anxiety disorders run in families, and have a biological component. These disorders appear to develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, neurobiology, social environment and traumatic life events.
Anxiety disorders are the most common behavioral health issue affecting children and adults. An estimated 1 out of every 8 children, and 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety disorders. The positive news is that anxiety disorders are highly treatable. Those who receive the effective, evidenced-based treatment offered at WELLSPRING COUNSELING, learn to manage, and in many cases, overcome their symptoms. The skills that you, or your child acquire through treatment will guide you through life’s most challenging circumstances.
The term Anxiety Disorders includes Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Generalized Anxiety and Specific Phobias.
PANIC DISORDER AND AGORAPHOBIA:
Panic Disorder is characterized by episodes of sudden and intense fear that seem to occur out of the blue, and include symptoms such as:
shortness of breath ▪▪ racing heart, palpitations ▪▪ trembling or shaking
sweating or cold flashes ▪▪ nausea, dizziness, choking sensations
fear of dying, losing control or going crazy
Anyone can experience a panic attack. It is the distinct and persistent fear of having another attack that differentiates a panic attack, from Panic Disorder.
Some who suffer from Panic Disorder may begin to avoid activities, places or people that become associated with their panic attacks. This type of avoidance, is referred to as Agoraphobia. If left untreated, Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia, can lead to severe impairment of functioning, keeping individuals isolated in their homes or unable to drive. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) estimates 2.7% of the U.S. Population, 6 million people suffer from Panic Disorder. With the use of proven clinical approaches, those suffering with Panic Disorder will gain an understanding of how this type of anxiety escalates and the techniques proven to overcome it, regaining the full spectrum of their lives.
SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER:
Sometimes referred to as Social Phobia, it is one of the more common anxiety disorders, involving the fear of embarrassment or humiliation in situations where the individual perceives exposure to scrutiny or the judgement of others. These situations can range from
a classroom ▪▪ athletic, group or social event for a child
to an office meeting ▪▪ any public or social activity for an adult
Those who suffer with social anxiety are driven by an excessive fear of being viewed as awkward, incompetent or stupid, often describing their experience in social or public situations as giving them the sense that a spotlight is on them, causing extreme self-consciousness. They may avoid participating in group conversations, speaking to authority figures, dating, attending parties or professional gatherings.
It’s estimated that 50% of children diagnosed at an early age will outgrow the problem. For those who do not, and go untreated, the disorder is associated with lower academic and work performance, less job satisfaction and lower socioeconomic status. Up to 14% of adults experience Social Anxiety Disorder at some point in their lives, for some this includes panic attacks.
Like Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety responds very well to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and the variety of techniques available within this approach, allowing adults to return to activities they may have avoided for years, and children, to gain a sense of confidence and belonging.
GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER:
Characterized by anxiety and worry that persists for at least 6 months, not involving panic attacks, obsessions or phobias. The focus of worry may relate to school, work, finances, health or important relationships. The person with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) feels little control over their worrying; and the intensity and frequency of the worry is always out of proportion to the true probability of the feared circumstances occurring.
GAD includes at least 3 of the following symptoms, present for the majority of time over that 6-month period. It is only diagnosed when symptoms interfere with daily life and is often accompanied by the physical symptoms included below:
Feeling on edge ▪▪ easily fatigued ▪▪ difficulty concentrating
irritability ▪▪ muscle tension ▪▪ insomnia
frequent headaches ▪▪ irritable bowel syndrome ▪▪ high blood pressure
Generalized Anxiety Disorder can develop at any age and is estimated to effect 5% of the general population. The anxiety in GAD is generally driven by fears of losing control, not being able to cope, rejection, failure or illness.
Cognitive Therapy provides significant relief to those suffering with Generalized Anxiety. You will learn to challenge your negative thoughts and work through the fears of worst-case scenarios, making the concept “peace of mind”, more attainable.
Mindfulness-based techniques are also of great help, as with any Anxiety Disorder, and can become an integral part of healing.
Defined as an intense, persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, situation, activity, or person. This fear and anxiety is typically very much out of proportion to the existence of any real threat or danger and can sometimes be triggered by just the thought, picture or sound of a feared object or circumstance.
Specific phobias are extremely responsive to CBT and specifically to gradual exposure, as planned out, and agreed upon, every step of the way by individual and therapist in a collaborative, and highly successful process.