Anxiety is the most common mental disorder in the US, with over 40 million people who experience a form of anxiety. Daily events or stressful activities can result in temporary anxiety symptoms. However, when the anxiety symptoms are severe, debilitating, and are not resolving, this can be viewed as a signal that an anxiety disorder is present.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD features symptoms of anxiety in response to an irrational fear of germs or contamination, fear of angry or aggressive impulses, or an obsessive need for orderliness, cleanliness, or symmetry. In response to the fear, individuals access compulsive behaviors to help manage the anxiety that the irrational obsession induces.
Panic disorder features unpredictable and intense physical symptoms similar to a heart attack, such as a racing heart, shallow breathing, heart palpitations, nausea, chest pain, and dizziness. Because the attacks come on suddenly without warning, people begin to isolate themselves to avoid a panic attack, which could result in agoraphobia.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety is characterized by a deep fear of being judged and humiliated publicly, to the point that the individual avoids all types of social interaction and events. This can lead to isolation and loneliness, as well as negatively impacting career opportunities and relationships.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
GAD is characterized by extreme worry that is out of proportion to the situation. The exaggerated and chronic worrying can result in an inability to function at basic daily tasks, and physical ailments, such as headache, stomach problems, and muscle tension.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is related to the anxiety spectrum due to the intense feelings of anxiety that a past trauma provokes. An unresolved traumatic event, whether witness or experienced personally, leads to nightmares, hyper-arousal, and unwanted memories, which can cause the person to avoid any situations or people that might trigger the traumatic memories.
Phobias pertain to the intense and exaggerated fear of a person, place, or thing. The object of fear can lead to irrational and obsessive behaviors as the individual attempts to avoid encountering or triggering the extreme fear that it provokes, leading to avoiding any potential exposure to the specific phobia.
What can cause an Anxiety Disorder?
A malfunction in stress hormone production, such as cortisol and adrenaline, can lead to symptoms of anxiety.
A family history of anxiety disorders increases one’s chance of also developing one.
Experiencing physical or sexual abuse, sudden loss of a loved one, combat stress, or a serious accident can lead to an anxiety disorder.
Unrelenting stress caused by pressures at work, financial problems, or marital problems can contribute to anxiety disorder.
Certain personality traits may predispose an individual to anxiety.
How we treat Anxiety Disorders
A doctor may prescribe an antidepressant, anti-anxiety, or antipsychotic medication, or a combination of to help adjust the patient’s brain chemistry.
Through psychotherapy, patients learn how to manage their internal voice that can lead to anxious behavior. Individual and group-based therapy sessions allow patients to learn new thought patterns to help understand fears behind their own anxieties.
Holistic therapy can provide treat anxiety through activities that help induce relaxation and relieve stress. Such practices can involve meditation, yoga, guided imagery, mindfulness training, as well as Jacuzzi and massage therapy.
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