ANXIETY

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, to panic disorder, to social anxiety disorder, to obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more. 

 

SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY:

 

Common symptoms of anxiety disorder are as follows. You do not need to experience all of these symptoms in order to meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder.

 

  • Excessive worry occuring most days of the week

  • Difficulty controlling the worry

  • Restlessness or feeling on edge

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking straight

  • Irritability

  • Muscle tension

  • Sleep disturbance

  • 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 is important that you seek the help of a mental health professional for a proper diagnosis.

 

PANIC:

 

Panic disorder is a specific type of anxiety disorder which 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. Common symptoms of panic disorder are as follows. You do not need to experience all of these symptoms in order to meet the criteria for panic disorder disorder.

  • Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate

  • Sweating

  • 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:

 

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a specific type of anxiety which results in “obsessive” (persistent, intense) thinking paired with compulsions aimed to prevent or reduce anxious thoughts or feared outcomes. Common symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder are as follows. You do not need to experience all of these symptoms in order to meet the criteria for obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Obsessions

  • 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)

Compulsions

  • Repetitive behaviors or mental acts which are responses to obsessions and are applied rigidly

  • Repetitive behaviors or mental acts are not connected in a realistic way to what they are intended to neutralize or suppress, or they are 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:

 

Contamination OCD

Fear of contact with bacteria or another (biological or social) contaminant, or becoming ill

Harm OCD

Fear that one may in the future cause harm to self or others, or that one has already caused harm to others.

Pedophilia OCD

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 it feels “right”

Sexual Orientation OCD

Recurrent thoughts and doubt about one’s sexual preferences

Relationship OCD

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. Anxiety becomes a disorder when it has a significant negative impact on 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. What we can do is modify how you respond to and think about anxiety.

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 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. Learning how to identify and modify 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.