Do you know that you can bring your anxious thoughts to an end? Anxiety is an experience many people will come to experience in their lifetime. However, anxiety becomes a disorder when chronic issues of fear, uneasiness, poor sleep, restlessness, sweaty palms and in severe cases, panic attacks become a recurring theme in the person’s life.
While there is no exact cause for anxiety disorders, a generally agreed upon theory in the counseling community is that anxiety occurs when a person’s coping skills for stress becomes ineffective. On one end of the spectrum anxiety is caused by a person encountering a new stressful experience he or she has no frame of references to deal with. In cases like this the anxiety is mild and the level of therapy needed is brief. A good example would be someone going through a divorce and the unexpected change they experience or someone who finds themselves involved in an ongoing conflict with a supervisor at work.
At the other end of the spectrum, a person’s issues with anxiety could be chronic due to unresolved childhood trauma, in which they developed coping strategies which are no longer effective. In this situation, the person usually will require more time in therapy in order to work through their complex issues in bringing their anxiety to an end.
To understand if you struggle with anxiety or what type of anxiety you struggle with, here are six types of anxiety.
Generalized Anxiety: Generalized anxiety is characterized by symptoms of excessive worry, trembling or shaking, heart palpitations, dry mouth, difficulty breathing, chest pain, feelings of dizziness, fear of dying, hot flushes or cold chills, muscle tension, restlessness, difficulty swallowing, easily startled, difficulty concentrating, persistent irritability and insomnia due to excessive worrying.
Social Anxiety: Social anxiety is triggered by the person’s presence in any social situation or a specific social situation. Symptoms are characterized by intense fear, poor eye contact, excessive blushing, profuse sweating, trembling, palpitations and sometime panic attacks.
Panic Attacks: Panic attacks can be triggered by any number of circumstances, most notably unresolved trauma and social anxiety. Panic attacks triggered by social anxiety are usually called agoraphobia. Symptoms of panic attacks are rapid heartbeat, perspiration, dizziness, difficulty breathing, chest pains and intense fear.
Anxieties due to Specific Phobias: Unlike general anxiety, a person’s anxiety can be triggered by a specific phobia, so agoraphobia, (a fear of social situations) is a common phobia that triggers anxiety in people. There are five categories for specific phobias and they are:
A fear of a type of animals and insects such as arachnophobia, (a fear of spiders)
A fear of nature or natural occurrences such as gerascophobia, (a fear of aging)
A fear of situations such as a fear of the dark, (nyctophobia)
A fear of blood, needles or a fear of getting injured, such as a fear of blood (hemophobia)
Miscellaneous fears such a fear of loud noises, (Acousticophobia)
Here is an exhaustive list of phobias.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is also a form of anxiety characterized by an obsession and a compulsion to follow through with recurring rituals and engage in irrational behaviors. A ubiquitous and cliche example would be excessive hand washing due to a phobia of germs, or ritualistic behaviors such as knocking on the door three times and turning the door knob twice before leaving the house, based on the belief that something terrible will occur if this ritual isn’t done.
If you or someone you love struggles with similar behaviors or rituals to the extent that it has begun interfering with personal and professional relationships to include lifestyle, the good news is that you can learn to bring the obsessive compulsiveness to a stop.
Treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder is twofold, the first portion would be introducing the sufferer to effective and evidenced based cognitive behavioral strategies to practice consistently for a period of twenty-one to thirty days to bring these obsessive compulsive behaviors to a stop.
The second portion of treatment will be to examine how significant early life experiences led to the development of the obsessive compulsive behaviors. The goal of the second process would be to develop an understanding for what beliefs trigger the obsessive compulsive behaviors and replace those identified unhealthy beliefs with healthier beliefs that promote a healthier lifestyle.
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by intrusive and disturbing memories of a traumatic event, avoidance and isolation, hyperarousal, anxious thoughts and feelings and sometimes panic attacks. PTSD can develop after a person has experienced one or more tragic events such a sexual assault, extreme violence such as a combat zone, traffic accidents, fire or explosions. The nature of the traumatic event is usually so severe, that the person is unable to come to a place of acceptance with the incident.
Treatment offered for PTSD is twofold, initially, the client is introduced to eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) to help them transition past their feelings of intense fear and anxiety over the incident. The second step is using cognitive behavioral therapy, (CBT) to help the client come to a place of understanding and accepting their experience with tragedy.
Acute Stress, formerly known as acute stress disorder and now characterized as acute stress reaction is a caused by a person’s exposure to a threatening incident that leads the person to experience fear and extreme stress that involves concerns of serious injury or dire consequences. Acute stress is not the same as PTSD, with PTSD the person has already experienced the worst of what they could possibly experience, while with acute stress, the person either witnessed the incident happen to someone else or came close to experiencing the incident, leading to an intense fear of actually experiencing the incident.
Treatment for Acute stress is based on cognitive behavioral therapy where the client learns effective strategies for getting past his or her feelings of fear and living more courageously.
It might be odd, to see Insomnia written on a page dedicated to the treatment for anxiety. However, even though Insomnia is not anxiety, poor sleep is often triggered by anxiety. Given that anxiety is primarily characterized by excessive worrying, this translates to an overactive brain when the client is trying to go to sleep. Treatment for Insomnia at Road 2 Resolutions involves a six-week cognitive behavioral program developed at Harvard Medical School by Dr. Gregg Jacob. Watch this video for more information about the program.
Furthermore, there have been a total of three research studies since 1999 which compared the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy to the effectiveness of sleeping pills for the treatment of insomnia. In all three studies, the outcomes found cognitive behavioral therapy to be significantly more effective in the treatment of insomnia. These are links to the studies. Study 1, Study 2 and Study 3.
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