- What is anxiety?
- What is anxiety therapy?
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in the U.S., with 19% of U.S. adults and 31% of adolescents battling anxiety disorders each year. While medication can help lessen anxiety symptoms, people with anxiety disorder benefit greatly from identifying the root of their fears with anxiety therapy.
Since there are many different types of anxiety disorders, finding the best form of therapy to identify your triggers and treat your symptoms of anxiety can greatly ease the burden of anxiety. In this blog, we’ll discuss the various types of anxiety disorders and therapies you can explore with the help of mental health professionals.
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What is anxiety?
Anxiety is an intense feeling of fear or uneasiness that can affect the individual’s quality of life. In many cases, patients with anxiety disorders feel tense or restless, sweat, or have a rapid heartbeat. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations, but when you experience severe anxiety, your anxiety levels may become impossible to manage on your own and your daily life might be significantly affected. Here are the most common types of anxiety disorders:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
With generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, people feel extreme worry over everyday issues like health, school, work, and money. Triggers differ for each person and worries typically carry over from one thing to another. Physical symptoms can include difficulty concentrating, restlessness, and sleeping problems.
Panic disorders are categorized by sudden, repeated panic attacks. Panic attacks are periods of intense fear that start unexpectedly or when facing a trigger. People with panic disorder spend a lot of time worrying about their next panic attack. Symptoms of panic attacks typically include heart palpitations, excessive fear, chest pain, sweating, and a choking feeling.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder, also referred to as social phobia, is an overwhelming worry, low self-esteem, and self-consciousness when dealing with social situations. In some cases, social anxiety is limited to a specific trigger or type of situation, but when the feelings of anxiety become more severe, it can lead to avoiding social situations altogether.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
People with separation anxiety disorder experience excessive worry when separated from their loved ones or leaving their homes. This type of anxiety is a normal part of childhood development but can become extreme or even carry into adulthood.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is categorized as experiencing persistent, intrusive thoughts that lead to compulsions. People with OCD typically use compulsions, such as cleaning or counting, as a coping mechanism to reduce the anxiety caused by their obsessive thoughts.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, results from exposure to a traumatic event. People with PTSD typically experience intense anxiety when exposed to loud noises or certain situations and may resort to self-destructive behaviors to ease their fears.
Phobias are an extreme fear of a particular object or situation and, in severe cases, can lead to avoidant behavior. Triggers range for each person, but common phobias include blood, heights, spiders, and public speaking. People with phobias typically spend a lot of time trying to avoid situations that could trigger their anxiety, often to an excessive degree.
What is anxiety therapy?
Anxiety therapy – unlike medication – can help you identify the causes of your worries and fears, learn healthier ways to cope, and change your anxious behavior. Since anxiety disorders differ from person to person, the treatment for anxiety can be tailored to target your triggers and ease your specific symptoms. Here are some of the most effective types of therapy:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is the most common psychotherapy used for treating anxiety-related panic disorders, phobias, social anxiety disorder, and GAD, along with many other conditions. The purpose of cognitive therapies is to help you understand your negative thoughts and problematic behaviors and replace them with healthier actions and coping tools.
During CBT, you’ll work with your therapist to examine how your thoughts – and your reactions to those thoughts – contribute to your anxiety. Your therapist will help you identify your anxiety-provoking thoughts, challenge them, and replace them with healthier, more realistic thoughts.
Psychodynamic therapy, or talking therapy, is based on the idea that talking about your problems can help you learn and develop coping tools to address them. Psychodynamic therapy centers around self-reflection and examination to help identify the root of your anxiety, identify traumatic events, and learn how to live a healthier life.
With psychodynamic therapy, your therapist will help identify your unconscious motivations and past experiences that have led to your anxiety attack or chronic anxiety. Then they’ll help you develop a better understanding of how to address your problems, and what you can do to feel better.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Acceptance and commitment therapy, also known as ACT, is effective for treating several anxiety disorders and other conditions. ACT aims to help you be more accepting of your thoughts and commit to facing your triggers head-on, without shame or judgment.
During ACT, you’ll work with your therapist to identify your core values. Then your therapist will help you accept what is out of your control and commit to actions that contribute to your values so that you can experience your thoughts and feelings without fear.
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing
Eye movement desensitization reprocessing, or EMDR, is a form of therapy for anxiety disorders used to treat panic disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder. EMDR focuses on changing the thoughts or behaviors resulting from a traumatic situation, allowing your brain to reprocess your memories so they no longer cause as much anxiety.
During EMDR, your therapist will guide you through a traumatic memory while moving your eyes back and forth rapidly, like REM sleep. Your therapist might use their hand, audible taps, or a pulsing light bar to help you move your eyes while focusing on the thoughts and feelings that arise while recounting the memory. Repeated sessions of this process can help lessen the intensity of your emotions connected to the memory, then replace them with healthier thoughts.
Nobody should have to suffer from anxiety, so if you think you may have an anxiety disorder, reach out to your therapist to learn which form of anxiety therapy might work best for you.