Have you ever felt excessively worried? Even if you’re fretting over something small, it may keep you up at night, distract you during conversations, and cause a headache. Maybe you find yourself crying but don’t know why. Perhaps you avoid running errands because you’re afraid of who you’ll run into at the store. These are all common experiences for individuals with anxiety or anxiety disorders. Having a little anxiety is normal and even sometimes beneficial. However, when your anxiety interferes with your daily life, you may need to seek treatment from a mental health professional.
What Does Anxiety Look Like?
Last month, we discussed mood disorders. Anxiety disorders are not classified as mood disorders, but they can still highly impact a person’s mood (how a person feels moment-to-moment). When someone has an anxiety disorder, they may have any combination of the following symptoms:
Intense, persistent, or excessive worry
Fear about common, everyday circumstances
Panic attacks, which may include racing or buzzing thought, increased heart rate, stomachaches, headaches, and more
Sudden feelings of terror for no apparent reason
Inability to fall or stay asleep
Crying, even when not feeling particularly upset about anything
Difficulty concentrating or focusing
Being afraid to see loved ones, friends, or colleagues
Anxiety looks different for everyone, though in general, anxiety disorder makes it difficult to fully participate or enjoy daily life, including work, hobbies, family, friendships, travel, and more. There are also different types of anxiety disorders, such as separation anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, and other phobias like agoraphobia.
People who have anxiety disorders may begin to feel nervous about their anxiety and worry about how they’ll feel in the future, making their anxiety multi-dimensional as it builds on itself. This increase in anxious thoughts could lead to feelings of hopelessness, despair, worthlessness, helplessness, and depression.
Treatment for Anxiety
Some commonly used evidence-based treatment approaches for generalized anxiety or panic attacks include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) and mindfulness or relaxation practices. CBT and DBT help the individual learn about their thought patterns so they will notice when they begin to engage in a harmful thought pattern. A therapist can teach them coping skills for moments when they feel overwhelmed by their thoughts. They’ll also have a space to process through the repercussions of their anxiety in their work, relationships, and personal lives. Mindfulness techniques, such as visualization, meditation, or breathing exercises, are helpful to slow down a racing mind and focus on what’s at hand in the present -- rather than worrying about the future or scary situations.
If you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety, reach out to Dr. Kelli Malkasian, PsyD, CEDS atCoral Reef Counseling, and schedule a free consultation or telehealth appointment today.