WHAT IS ANXIETY?
Shortness of Breath | Racing Heartbeat | Sweating | Dizziness and light-headedness | Restlessness | Muscle tension | Racing thoughts | Obsessive thinking | Sense of doom or dread | Feeling out of control | Feeling like you’re going to die | Sleep Disturbances | Negative Thinking | Hypervigilance
Feeling anxiety can be a natural response to help us deal with threats identified in our environment. Helpful levels of anxiety keep us safe from harm. Anxiety stops being helpful when it is experienced in safe, everyday situations at levels that go above and beyond what is necessary. Excessive anxiety may negatively affect one’s emotional well-being, relationships with others, health, career, and identity. Counseling can help.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults.
-The Anxiety and Depression Association of America
TYPES OF ANXIETY
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Are you extremely worried about everything in your life, even if there is little or no reason to worry? Are you very anxious about just getting through the day? Are you afraid that everything will always go badly?
All of us worry about things like health, money, or family problems. But people with GAD are extremely worried about these and many other things, even when there is little or no reason to worry about them. They are very anxious about just getting through the day. They think things will always go badly. At times, worrying keeps people with GAD from doing everyday tasks.
Do you sometimes have sudden attacks of fear that last for several minutes? Do you feel like you are having a heart attack or can’t breathe? Do these attacks occur at unpredictable times causing you to worry about the possibility of having another one at any time?
People with panic disorder have sudden and repeated attacks of fear that last for several minutes. Sometimes symptoms may last longer. These are called panic attacks. Panic attacks are characterized by a fear of disaster or of losing control even when there is no real danger. A person may also have a strong physical reaction during a panic attack. It may feel like having a heart attack. Panic attacks can occur at any time, and many people with panic disorder worry about and dread the possibility of having another attack. A person with panic disorder may become discouraged and feel ashamed because he or she cannot carry out normal routines like going to the grocery store or driving. Having panic disorder can also interfere with school or work.
Up to 25% of those visiting emergency rooms for chest pain are actually experiencing panic.
Are you afraid of being judged by others or of being embarrassed all the time? Do you feel extremely fearful and unsure around other people most of the time? Do these worries make it hard for you to do everyday tasks like run errands, or talk to people at work or school?
Social phobia is a strong fear of being judged by others and of being embarrassed. This fear can be so strong that it gets in the way of going to work or school or doing other everyday things. Everyone has felt anxious or embarrassed at one time or another. For example, meeting new people or giving a public speech can make anyone nervous. But people with social phobia worry about these and other things for weeks before they happen. People with social phobia are afraid of doing common things in front of other people. For example, they might be afraid to sign a check in front of a cashier at the grocery store, or they might be afraid to eat or drink in front of other people or use a public restroom.
Most people who have social phobia know that they shouldn’t be as afraid as they are, but they can’t control their fear. Sometimes, they end up staying away from places or events where they think they might have to do something that will embarrass them. For some people, social phobia is a problem only in certain situations, while others have symptoms in almost any social situation.
Do you feel the need to check and re-check things over and over? Do you have the same thoughts constantly? Do you feel a very strong need to perform certain rituals repeatedly and feel like you have no control over what you are doing?
Everyone double checks things sometimes. For example, you might double check to make sure the stove or iron is turned off before leaving the house. But people with OCD feel the need to check things repeatedly or have certain thoughts or perform routines and rituals over and over. The thoughts and rituals associated with OCD cause distress and get in the way of daily life.
The frequent upsetting thoughts are called obsessions. To try to control them, a person will feel an overwhelming urge to repeat certain rituals or behaviors called compulsions. People with OCD can’t control these obsessions and compulsions.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Do you experience bad dreams, nightmares, or daytime flashbacks to an event or series of events that happened more than a month ago? Do you sometimes have scary thoughts that you can’t control? Do you stay away from people, places, or things that remind you of the traumatic event? Are you suffering insomnia, racing thoughts, rage outbursts, or feeling on edge?
PTSD is a real illness. PTSD makes you feel stressed and afraid for weeks, months, or years after the danger is over. It affects your life and the people around you.
Living through or seeing something that’s upsetting and dangerous can cause PTSD. Examples include: Being a victim of or seeing violence, the death or serious illness of a loved one, war or combat, car accidents and plane crashes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires, and violent crimes, like a robbery or shooting.
HOW ACADIA COUNSELING CAN HELP
We help clients develop healthy coping skills and adjust thinking patterns to get anxious symptoms under control. We also explore relationships and systems that are perpetuating or exacerbating the symptoms and contribute to feelings of fear and dread. While medication for anxiety can be a helpful intervention, it is nearly always more effective when paired with ongoing counseling services.
18% of adults in the U.S. suffer from an anxiety disorder each year, and only about 37% receive any treatment.
-The National Institute of Mental Health
At Acadia Counseling, we are here to help you manage your anxious symptoms so you can get your life back. Call (502) 825-1375 or click here to schedule an appointment online.