What is Anxiety?
Anxiety has been described as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Often associated with fear, which is the emotional response to real or perceived threat, anxiety is anticipation of a future threat.
Anxiety isn’t always bad. In some cases, slight anxiety enhances performance, such as the mild anxiety we feel before an important event or presentation. It is when anxiety goes beyond this helpful state and becomes debilitating that interventions are necessary. Experiencing feelings of worry and dread that affect daily functioning and do not go away might signify the presence of an anxiety disorder.
Different Types of Anxiety:
Separation Anxiety Disorder – Developmentally inappropriate and excessive fear or anxiety from being separated to those whom the individual is attached.
Selective Mutism – Identified as a consistent failure to speak in specific situations in which there is an expectation for speaking (e.g., school) despite speaking in other situations.
Specific Phobia – Marked fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation (e.g., flying, heights, animals, seeing blood)
Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) – Marked fear or anxiety about one or more social situations in which the individual is exposed to possible scrutiny by others. Examples include social interactions (e.g., meeting unfamiliar people, having a conversation), being observed (e.g., eating or drinking), and performing in front of others (e.g., giving a speech).
Panic Disorder – Recurrent unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is an abrupt surge of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes.
Agoraphobia – Marked fear or anxiety regarding situations because of thoughts that escape might be difficult or help might not be available in the event panic-like symptoms were to occur.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Excessive anxiety and worry occurring more days than not about a number of events or activities.
Common Symptoms of Anxiety:
- Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
- Easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Restless unsatisfying sleep
Common Symptoms of Panic Attack Associated with Anxiety:
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath or feeling like being smothered
- Feelings of choking
- Chest pressure, discomfort or pain
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Feeling lightheaded, dizzy, unsteady, or faint
- Chills or heat sensations
- Numbness of tingling sensations
- Feelings of being undetached from self or reality
- Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
- Fear of dying
*Each person experiences anxiety differently and may have a few or all of these symptoms. If you are experiencing at least four or more of these symptoms, it may be time to seek out a mental health professional for help.
How can Counseling/Therapy help?
Because anxiety encompasses both irrational thoughts and physical sensations, best treatments involve therapeutic elements that address both these characteristics. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Emotional Freedom Techniques, Mindfulness, and Relaxation Training are all utilized in treating anxiety. Just as each person experiences anxiety differently, the gifted therapist can combine treatment modalities to successfully address individual differences.