Therapy for Anxiety

ANXIETY DISORDERS

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a natural and common emotional response to stress or perceived threats. It’s a feeling of fear, nervousness, or apprehension about what’s to come, often accompanied by physical sensations such as increased heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, and muscle tension. While it’s normal to feel anxious from time to time, such as before a job interview or a big presentation, anxiety becomes a concern when it is excessive, persistent, and interferes with daily life.

Anxiety can manifest in various forms, ranging from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), where individuals experience chronic worry and tension about many different aspects of life, to specific phobias, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and more. Each type of anxiety disorder has its own set of symptoms and triggers, but they all share the common feature of causing significant distress and impairment in functioning.

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Causes of Anxiety Disorders

  • Biological Factors: Genetics, Brain chemistry, Hormonal imbalances
  • Environmental Factors: Traumatic events, Chronic Stress, Lifestyle Factors
  • Psychological Factors: Negative thinking patterns, Perstonality Traits, Coping Mechanisms

 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a mental health condition characterized by persistent and excessive worry about various aspects of daily life, such as work, health, and social interactions. Individuals with GAD often find it difficult to control their anxiety, leading to physical symptoms like restlessness, fatigue, and muscle tension, which can interfere with their ability to function effectively.

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Symptoms of Anxiety

  • Physical Symptoms: Rapid heartbeat, Sweating, Trembling, Shortness of breath
  • Emotional Symptoms: Excessive worry, Irritability, Feelings of dread or apprehension, Difficulty concentrating
  • Behavioral Symptoms: Avoidance of certain situations, Restlessness, Changes in sleep patterns, Compulsive behaviors

 

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are sudden, intense episodes of fear or discomfort that typically peak within minutes and are accompanied by physical and cognitive symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, and a fear of losing control or dying. These attacks can occur in various situations and may or may not be linked to a specific trigger.

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Symptoms of Panic Attacks

  • Rapid heart rate (palpitations)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Feelings of unreality or detachment (derealization or depersonalization)
  • Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
  • Fear of dying

 

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder, on the other hand, is a chronic mental health condition characterized by recurrent and unexpected panic attacks, along with persistent concern or worry about having more attacks and the potential consequences. This disorder often leads to behavioral changes, such as avoiding situations where panic attacks have previously occurred, significantly impacting daily functioning and quality of life.

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Symptoms of Panic Disorder

  • Recurrent, unexpected panic attacks: These are sudden periods of intense fear or discomfort that reach a peak within minutes.
  • Persistent concern or worry about future panic attacks: Individuals often worry about when and where the next attack might occur.
  • Behavioral changes: This includes avoiding places or situations where previous panic attacks have occurred or where escape might be difficult or help unavailable.
  • Physical symptoms during a panic attack: These may include rapid heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, chills or hot flashes, and feelings of unreality or detachment.
  • Cognitive symptoms during a panic attack: These often include a fear of losing control, going crazy, or dying.
  • Significant distress or impairment: The symptoms cause significant distress or impair social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

 

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) is a mental health condition characterized by fear or anxiety about one or more social situations in which an individual is exposed to possible scrutiny by others. Examples can include social interactions (e.g., having a conversation, meeting unfamiliar people), being observed (e.g., eating or drinking), and performing in front of others (e.g., giving a speech).

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Symptoms of Social Anxiety

  • Intense fear of social situations and being judged by others.
  • Avoidance of social interactions or enduring them with significant distress.
  • Physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, rapid heartbeat, nausea, and blushing.
  • Difficulty making eye contact, speaking, or being the center of attention.
  • Excessive worry about upcoming social events or interactions.
  • Low self-esteem and fear of being embarrassed or humiliated.
  • Overanalyzing social interactions after they occur.

 

Specific Phobias

Specific phobias are a type of anxiety disorder characterized by intense and irrational fears of specific objects or situations. These fears can lead to avoidance behavior and can significantly disrupt daily life. Examples include fear of spiders (arachnophobia), fear of heights (acrophobia), and fear of flying (aviophobia). Learn more about specific phobias I treat. 

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Symptoms of Phobias

  • Intense and irrational fear or anxiety when exposed to the specific object or situation.
  • Immediate and overwhelming panic or distress.
  • Physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, or feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Avoidance of the feared object or situation, which can interfere with daily activities or routines.
  • Difficulty functioning normally due to the fear or anxiety, including disruptions in work, school, or social life.
  • Recognition that the fear is excessive or unreasonable, yet feeling unable to control it.

 

How Therapy Can Help

Each individual is unique, and so is their experience with anxiety. My approach emphases personalized treatment plans, tailored to meet your specific needs.   Therapy is a collaborative process where I work closely with you to address your goals. Regular assessments are given to ensure our treatment plan is effective and it can be adjusted as needed for optimal results. 

Catherine Alvarado Office
Catherine Alvarado Office Chair

Benefits of Therapy

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Reducing symptoms of anxiety.
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Improving coping skills. 
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Enhancing emotional regulation. 
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Building self-confidence. 

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Reducing occurrence of panic attacks. 

Resources & Support for Anxiety

If you feel this approach could benefit you, connect with me so we can discuss further and determine next steps. Additional self-help tools and reading about anxiety and stress-related issues can be found on the Blogs