Anxiety: Types, Symptoms and Treatment
Anxiety is the most common mental disorder, affecting about 18% of the US population every year. Anxiety disorders can take many forms, from generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more.
Serving Chicago, IL, convenient to the neighborhoods of Lincoln Square, North Center and Ravenswood
Symptoms of Anxiety
Here are some common symptoms of anxiety disorder. You don’t need to experience all of these symptoms to meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder:
Excessive worry occurring most days of the week
Difficulty controlling the worry
Restlessness or feeling on edge
Difficulty concentrating or thinking straight
Avoidance of situations that may cause anxiety
Perceived need for reassurance to curb anxiety
Please note that this is not intended for self-diagnosis. If you believe you have an anxiety disorder, it’s important that you seek the help of a mental health professional for a proper diagnosis.
Panic disorder is a specific type of anxiety disorder that results in panic attacks, which are acute experiences of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and typically subsides in an hour or less.
Here are some common symptoms of panic disorder. You don’t need to experience all of these symptoms to meet the criteria for panic disorder:
Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
Trembling or shaking
Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
Feelings of choking
Chest pain or discomfort
Nausea or abdominal distress
Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint
Chills or heat sensations
Numbness or tingling sensations, particularly in the extremities
Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)
Fear of losing control or going crazy
Fear of dying
Persistent worry about having a panic attack
Avoidance of activities or situations that may cause a panic attack
Please note that this is not intended for self-diagnosis. If you believe you have panic disorder, it is important that you seek the help of a mental health professional for a proper diagnosis.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a specific type of anxiety that results in “obsessive” (persistent, intense) thinking paired with compulsions aimed at preventing or reducing anxious thoughts or feared outcomes.
Here are some common symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. You don’t need to experience all of these symptoms to meet the criteria for obsessive-compulsive disorder:
Unwanted or intrusive thoughts, urges, or images that cause severe psychological distress
Attempts to neutralize or suppress these thoughts, urges, or images with some other thought or an action (compulsion)
Repetitive behaviors or mental acts which are responses to obsessions, applied rigidly
Repetitive behaviors or mental acts not connected realistically to what they’re intended to neutralize or suppress, or they’re clearly excessive
Please note that this is not intended for self-diagnosis. If you believe you have obsessive-compulsive disorder, it is important that you seek the help of a mental health professional for a proper diagnosis.
Types of OCD:
Fear of contact with bacteria or another (biological or social) contaminant or becoming ill.
Fear that one may cause harm to self or others in the future or that one has already caused harm to others.
Fear that one is a pedophile (absent of any criteria for pedophilic disorder) or that one may cause harm to children.
“Just Right” OCD
A strong sense of discomfort with things just not feeling right and a need to repeat actions until they feel “right.”
Sexual Orientation OCD
Recurrent thoughts and doubts about one’s sexual preferences.
Persistent doubt and uncertainty about the legitimacy and stability of one’s relationships.
Pure Obsessional OCD
Sometimes referred to as Existential OCD, distress caused by certain thoughts (often unanswerable questions) or uncertainty.
Treatment for Anxiety
Anxiety is a normal human emotion, just like anger, sadness, disgust, etc. However, anxiety becomes a disorder when it significantly impacts your life and your functioning.
My approach to treatment focuses on your relationship to anxiety rather than your anxiety itself. We cannot make your anxiety go away, just like we cannot make other emotions go away. However, we can modify how you respond to and think about anxiety.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is considered “the gold standard” for treatment of anxiety disorders. CBT incorporates thought-based (cognitive) and action-based (behavioral) interventions.
Thought-based interventions include identifying and modifying unhelpful, unfair, or unrealistic thoughts. These thoughts, called cognitive distortions, exacerbate and reinforce worries. An example is all-or-nothing thinking (“I can’t do anything right”) which is both untrue and unfair. Identifying and modifying these thoughts can yield great improvements in emotional health.
Action-based interventions include identifying and modifying unhealthy behaviors that can exacerbate or reinforce anxiety (such as reassurance-seeking or avoidance).
Action-based interventions also include implementing behaviors (coping skills) that help one manage their anxiety symptoms. CBT can be augmented by other treatment modalities, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, and more.