What is Anxiety?
Anxiety, or more specifically anxiety disorder, is a large and uncomfortable reaction to a situation that you may perceive as terrible, but really isn’t. Yes, there are instances when anxiety is warranted, such as when you are genuinely in danger. In that case, anxiety is your mind telling your body to take action because there is a threat of harm. However, when anxiety shifts into overdrive and you perceive too many things as potentially threatening, then it can be debilitating..
Am I the Only One with Anxiety?
No you are not. Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders in America. Estimates are that it affects some 40 million adults, or about 18 percent of the population. Fortunately, anxiety is also one of the most treatable conditions.
What Are the Symptoms of Anxiety?
- Worry that is uncontrollable
- Stomach troubles
- Shortness of breath
- A racing heart or heart palpitations
- Racing thoughts
- Tension and tight muscles
What Is the Difference Between an Anxiety and Panic Attack?
Symptoms of anxiety vary in intensity, from mild to severe. Panic attacks, on the other hand, are always severe and present suddenly. Furthermore, panic attacks may not necessarily be triggered by an internal or external stressor; these can happen without any stimulus.
Symptoms of a panic attack include:
- A pounding heart
- Chest pain
- Nausea or stomach pain
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling as if you’re being choked
- Chills and shivers
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
In addition, people who have experienced panic attacks report feeling a loss of control and suddenly fearing they are about to die. Panic attacks usually peak after 10 minutes or so and then gradually subside. However, after an attack, a sense of unease and worry may linger for the remainder of the day.
How Can Therapy Help with Anxiety?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is the gold standard for treating anxiety. CBT’s premise is that your internal thoughts rather than external events affect the way you feel. So, it’s not necessarily the circumstances you find yourself in, but your perception of those circumstances that make you anxious.
Together, you and your clinician at Family Therapy Group of Weston will identify the connection between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Once you are aware of this connection, then you’ll better understand how negative thinking feeds anxiety. With this understanding, you’ll be able to learn how to control the underlying cause.
Another treatment option is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which is a type of CBT. This therapy helps people with anxiety develop positive behaviors even when they’re feeling anxious. The main point of ACT is to learn to live with anxiety so that it does not become your life’s focal point. ACT works very well in cases of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, as well as depression.
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