Anxiety is an emotion that involves worry, tension, nervousness, and physical changes like increased heart rate. We all experience anxiety at different times in our lives – it’s an important emotion! Anxiety may become a problem if it is persistent, intense, and interferes with daily activities. People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or worries and they are likely to avoid situations and triggers in an attempt to protect themselves from experiencing anxiety.
What is Anxiety?
Common symptoms of anxiety:
- Nervousness, restlessness or tension
- Feelings of danger, panic or dread
- Rapid breathing or hyperventilation
- Trembling or muscle twitching
- Weakness or lethargy
- Difficulty focusing or thinking clearly about anything other than the thing you’re worried about
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Excessive worrying or an uncontrollable mind
There are various anxiety disorders which each have distinct characteristics and symptoms. Often anxiety disorders will co-occur. The anxiety disorders treated at New Moon Psychotherapy are:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Persistent and excessive worry about people, activities or events – even daily or routine events such as locking the door or ensuring the iron has been turned off.
- The level of worry typically does not fit the situation and is difficult to control.
- Repeated episodes of sudden and intense fear or terror (panic attacks), typically followed by worry of the episode recurring and avoidance of situations in which panic attacks have occurred.
- Symptoms of a panic attack include feeling of impending doom, shortness of breath, sweating, rapid heart rate.
Social Anxiety Disorder
- Feeling fearful or nervous in social situations and embarrassed or self-conscious around others
- They don't like being the centre of attention and often dread public speaking or performing a task while being observed.
- Being concerned that others will negatively judge them.
- Often people who experience social anxiety spend a lot of time reflecting on social interactions to identify potential mistakes and see if there's something they can do differently next time; they may spend a long time figuring out what to wear or avoid making eye contact.
- Intense anxiety and sometimes panic symptoms in response to specific objects or situations. Often involves desire to avoid these objects or situations.
- A common phobia is Agoraphobia which is characterized by fear and avoidance of places or situations that cause panic and make you feel trapped, helpless, or embarrassed.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Obsessive thinking patterns that can include unwanted thoughts, images or urges; often accompanied by compulsive behaviors which are an attempt to reverse the obsessive thoughts or urges. Common compulsions may include, but are not limited to, checking, counting, cleaning, hording.
- Common intrusions involve harm to self or others or thoughts that you might harm self or others.
How is Anxiety Treated?
Anxiety does not have to stop you from living the life you want to live. When it comes to treating anxiety disorders, research shows that therapy is usually the most effective option. That’s because therapy – as opposed to medication – treats more than just symptoms of the problem.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy for anxiety that focuses on understanding and changing your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. It can help you learn how to recognize and change problematic thoughts and develop skills to help you gain confidence in various situations.
CBT may also include:
- learning social skills to help you feel confident in social situations
- learning relaxation strategies to reduce your stress levels
- gradual exposures to the situations you fear most to develop the confidence to deal with anxiety-producing situations
Mindfulness-Based Therapies can be used to help you learn to attend differently to your thoughts – instead of trying to change them, learning to live life with them. It can also help you be more present which is important when treating anxiety because anxiety is future focused.
Somatic and Sensorimotor Therapy can be used to provide you with strategies to regulate your emotions and calm the nervous system which will allow you to think more logically.