Counseling for Anxiety

Anxiety is a natural part of life. It is the root of excitement, anticipation, and motivation. Unfortunately, there’s another side. Anxiety can branch into intense fear and worry. Sometimes we have too much of it and other times it lessens. For some, anxiety feels as though it is constantly overflowing for an overwhelming experience. While it can create psychological distress and physical distress, it can also give bounds of energy, inspiration and hope.  Counseling for anxiety is a helpful outcome in alleviating the symptoms.

Some cultures experience anxiety differently. An ethnic breakdown of anxiety disorders reveals that Asian Americans had the least amount of anxiety disorders than other racial groups. . White Americans tended to have more anxiety than African Americans and Hispanic Americans. African Americans more frequently met criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Hispanic groups had more anxiety than the Asian group. Racism and special challenges for groups that have immigrated to this country experience anxiety in different ways.

Countries also experience anxiety differently. Western societies experience more clinical anxiety than in Middle East and Asia. However, it was the Western countries that were less likely to be depressed than in Asia and the Middle East.

It is when anxiety develops into a disorder that gives concern. Like being in an intense storm, it creates fear, confusion with no assurance to an end. Chronic anxiety is like a war with unbearable consequences that never ends.

Definition

Anxiety is “A chronic condition characterized by an excessive and persistent sense of apprehension, with physical symptoms such as sweating, palpitations, and feelings of stress. Treatments include the comfort offered by understanding the condition, avoiding or desensitizing exacerbating situations, and medications."

An anxiety disorder presents with chronic emotional and physical symptoms that interferes with daily living. It can be an inability to control worry, inability to sleep, or uncontrolled restlessness. It’s important to know that everyone experiencing anxiety does not have an anxiety disorder. Anyone can experience anxiety and not have a disorder, and a real danger or threat may not constitute anxiety.

Facts About Anxiety

• 40 million adults are stricken with an anxiety disorder

Women are 60% more likely to suffer from anxiety

• There are 7 different types of anxiety disorders

• Depression and anxiety can be present at the same time

• Anxiety is the most common form of mental illness

• 10% of teenagers suffer from anxiety

• Anxiety is very treatable

• It is common to have anxiety and depression

• The base of anxiety is fear

• Anxiety affects the immune system response

• Cardiovascular changes occur from chronic anxiety

• Problems with central nervous system can occur

• Many health issues occur as a result of anxiety

• Behavioral and personality changes can develop

Different types of anxiety carry specific symptoms and treatments. Below are descriptions of 6 types of anxiety.

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is excessive worry, anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts. Worries are intense and constant. Fears of are of disaster, health, family, friends, and work that interfere with daily living.

Symptoms

• Muscle tension

• Gastrointestinal discomfort or diarrhea

• Irritability

• Fatigue

• Edginess

• Restlessness

• Sleep difficulties What is Panic Disorder?

What is Panic disorder?

Panic disorder is the unpredictable, chronic state of continuous panic attacks. An abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes, and during which time four or more of the following symptoms occur:

Symptoms

• Persistent concern or worry about additional panic attacks or their consequences (e.g., losing control, having a heart attack, going crazy)

• Significant maladaptive change in behavior related to the attacks

• Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate

• Sweating

• Trembling or shaking

• Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering

• Feeling of choking

• Chest pain or discomfort

• Nausea or abdominal distress

• Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint

• Chills or heat sensations • Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations)

• Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)

• Fear of losing control or going crazy

• Fear of dying

What is Agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia (ag-uh-ruh-FOE-be-uh) is an anxiety disorder with a fear of actual or anticipated situations. Being in open spaces, crowds, public transportation or just outside the comfort of their living space. Because of the fear, places of discomfort are often avoided. While it tends to affect women more, it is a condition that can affect men.  Individuals with agoraphobia often avoid places or situations where they may feel trapped or have a panic attack.  Sometimes individuals with agoraphobia find they are able to manage these situations when someone else is with them.  Without treatment agoraphobia tends to get worse with time.  

Symptoms

• Fear of being alone

• Fear of being in crowded places

• Fear of losing control in a public

• Fear of being in places where it may be hard to leave, such as an elevator or train

• Overdependence on others

• Sense of helplessness

• Overly dependent upon others

In addition, symptoms of a panic attack, may occur such as:

• Rapid heart rate

• Excessive sweating

• Trouble breathing

• Feeling shaky, numb or tingling

• Chest pain or pressure

• Lightheadedness or dizziness

• Sudden flushing or chills

• Gastrointestinal discomfort or diarrhea

What is Specific phobia?

A person who has a specific phobia disorder experiences significant and persistent fear when in the presence of, or anticipating the presence of, the object of fear, which may be an object, place or situation. Duration of the experience is at least 6 months. It is known to interfere with family, social and professional life.

Symptoms

• Fear is out of proportion of a specific object or situation

• Exposure to the phobic stimulus can provoke a panic attack

• The person is aware that the fear is out of proportion

• The phobic situation(s) is avoided or else is endured with intense anxiety or distress

• The avoidance interferes significantly with the person's normal routine.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety disorder is an anxiety disorder involving discomfort around social interaction. It is highlighted with concern about being embarrassed and judged by others. Examples include eating in front of others or using public restrooms. The onset of this order is around the age of 13. It becomes distressful as the person desires social contact, however, avoids it.

Symptoms

• Fear of social rejection

• Social interaction(s) provoke distress

• Social interactions are either avoided, or painfully endured

• Fear is disproportionate to the situation

• Impairment is in interpersonal or occupational functioning 

What is Separation Anxiety Disorder?

Usually, when we think of separation anxiety disorder, we are reminded of children. They are afraid to leave their caretaker, or even to go to school. Many adults are affected by this disorder. It is a disorder where there is distress when being separated from people or places where there is a strong emotional attachment. It is predicted that 20,207,408 adults will suffer with adult separation anxiety (ASAD) in their lifetimes.

Symptoms

• Extreme jealousy

• Frequent checking on whereabouts of children or significant others

• Excessive worry about losing love ones

• Social withdrawal

• Ritualistic or repetitive behavior

• Conflict in relationships

• Fear that something bad will happen to love ones

Treatment

Counseling, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), relaxations therapies, clinical hypnosis, yoga, physical exercises are forms of treatments of many treatments to help with relaxation. Yoga, diet, support groups and self-talk are other considerations to decrease anxiety. It’s important to take note of those procedures that work best for you. It is important that the support system of the person have a understanding of how they can be helpful in the process. Knowing how to and how not to respond can be reassuring to the family member and the individual in making improvements. Counseling helps to identify the triggers that create the panic. Learning ways to prevent and learn ways of thinking and positive self-talk prevent the triggers.

CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) with an emphasis on exposure can reduce symptoms of social phobia. Exposure therapy involves gradually placing oneself in anxiety provoking situations, and associating the feared stimulus with a response of relaxation or indifference. This is also known as systematic desensitization, and is a very effective evidence based treatment of phobia, including social phobia. (NIMH, 2014).

Clinical Hypnosis

A state of inner absorption, concentration or focused attention which assists a client in altering some aspects of thought, emotion, behavior or perception. See more at ASCH (American Society of Clinical Hypnosis). Hypnosis utilizes the power of words, mixes it with belief, expectation and imagination to create an incredibly effective yet misunderstood and underutilized therapeutic modality that can aid in reducing anxiety and other symptoms.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

This is a technique that is very effective for phobias and traumas. It is commonly used for reducing stress and emotionally disturbing thoughts. You can find more information about it at emdr.com.

Education

Anxiety is a normal part of life. Learn ways where it is helpful and useful for you. Anxiety is the root of excitement. Understand how anxiety can be crippling. It is helpful to pinpoint specifically those symptoms that interfere with the quality of your life. List them and begin to research ways of overcoming them.

Anxiety has a strong physiological base. The mind and the body react to the fight/flight syndrome. The sympathetic nervous system prepares the body to fight or flight. This is observed when there’s a perceived act of danger or threat, whether it’s real or unreal. It prepares the body by increasing heart rate, and dilating pupils and lungs. This condition is a strain on the body when there is no real danger or threat. In order to lessen this impact on the parasympathetic nervous system can help by bringing a calm to the body. The benefits include a lower blood pressure, an increase in energy and sleep, and stabilization blood sugar.

Support Groups

support can be beneficial. Group therapy can offer a sense of support and not feeling alone. It’s a way to be understood. Explore groups in your city, call your insurance company for recommendations or check out online support groups.

Breathing techniques

Often during times of high anxiety, breathing becomes disordered. This can set the stage for hyperventilation, which is a hallmark for anxiety. Corrected breathing can bring a balance to this state. See more as Dr Weil demonstrates a video with 3 exercises. The goal for anxiety relief is to slow down the breathing

Medication

Different anxiety disorders require different medications. Some are designed to have temporary use and some long term. Some of the medication is used to treat anxiety and depression. It is important to discuss this with the treating physician. Because symptoms of anxiety can become overwhelming, some turn to alcohol and drugs for relief. It’s important to remember that while alcohol and drugs can be quick fixes to relieve anxiety, the danger is with continued use. Negative consequences and addiction can create more problems. Some abused drugs can have a paradoxical effect of creating more anxiety that initially experienced.

Mindfulness/Meditation/ Relaxation

“In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn recruited chronically ill patients not responding well to traditional treatments to participate in his newly formed eight-week stress-reduction program, which we now call Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Since then, substantial research has mounted demonstrating how mindfulness-based interventions improve mental and physical health—comparably so to other psychological interventions.”  “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally,” says Kabat-Zinn. “It’s about knowing what is on your mind.” Mindfulness is not to be overlooked as a valuable resource in alleviating anxiety. In a study by Nielson and Nielson, substantial reductions with anxiety occurred using mindfulness. Learning how to be in the moment is crucial in calming.

Muscle Relaxation

Tensing each major muscle group and then relaxing it can offer relief. Anxiety is a mind and body connection. This technique contributes to lessening tension and stress that trigger panic attacks. 

Journal

Writing accesses the left part of the brain. That part is logical and analytic. Writing can improve clarity and identify thoughts and feelings that may not have been initially accessible. In addition, writing can reduce stress and be a guide for problem solving. Remember that it is unlikely that the fearful thoughts are not like to happen. Challenge the thoughts by writing it down. You can challenge your worrisome thinking whenever you feel anxious or feel an urge to avoid or escape a situation. Writing it down. It helps.

Diet

A good diet helps with keeping healthy mental and physical fitness. A lack of certain vitamins can create anxiety. Check your diet for adequate amounts of the following vitamins:

Magnesium

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B1

Vitamin D

Drinking a sufficient amount of water is also important. Dehydration can also contribute to anxiety. Paying attention to a healthy diet can contribute to the betterment of overall health.

Exercise

According to some studies, exercise can have an affect in alleviating anxiety . The exercise produces endorphins that fight stress and anxiety. When the body is not active, there’s a greater chance of anxious thoughts.

There is a high correlation between those that don't exercise and those that experience anxiety. In addition, beyond the health components of jogging and exercise, there are additional benefits as well.

Learn what exercises work best and chose from a host of physical activities. Yoga, kick boxing, dancing, walking, tai chi are just a few.

Research as many techniques you can find. Try them. Identify what you find helpful and practice them. This is the development of building a toolbox that is helpful and part of a strategy to manage the symptoms. Anxiety feels like a threat, but is not one. The goal is to find those ways that work for you in diminishing the affects of anxiety for a more satisfying and productive way of living.

For help in managing your anxiety, call me today at 513-244-6990.

LINKS

Test for Anxiety

Understanding Anxiety

Support Groups

ADAA Support Group

Reframe Anxiety

Breathing Techniques

Breathing to Conquer Anxiety

Dr. Weil's Breathing Techniques

Living With or Living Free From Overwhelming Anxiety

A 6 Minute Mindful Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Relaxation Sounds

Deepak Chopra explains how to forgive and let go of disturbing events

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Dr. Carole Stokes-Brewer

Carole Stokes-Brewer
PHD, LISW-S, LICDC-CS

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