Anxiety is the most common reason people reach out to me. It can become an overwhelming and destructive force. Anxiety can mount over time, or it can rush at you suddenly. Regardless of how it arrives, it can be frightening, depressing, and frustrating.
Although anxiety is an extremely unpleasant experience, it also has an adaptive, protective function. Healthy anxiety helps us anticipate potential real dangers so that we can keep ourselves safe and optimize our outcomes.
However maladaptive anxiety is an unnecessary discomfort that can be addressed effectively in therapy. Sometimes anxiety becomes provoked when we are not in danger. This can happen if a safe situation reminds us of an anxiety provoking incident or series of incidents, but the common characteristics between the original dangerous situation and the new situation are either minor or unrelated to the actual threat. Another way anxiety can malfunction is to cause us to have excessive reactions to minor threats. If you are suffering from maladaptive forms of anxiety, that is a good reason to seek therapy. Maladaptive anxiety, if severe enough, may rise to the level of being classified as a disorder. Below is a list of common types of anxiety that lead people to seek therapy.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder. People who suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder usually worry excessively about different aspects of their lives (as opposed to fixating on one) such as health, money, career, or interpersonal relationships. Often when one source of concern is resolved, the anxiety transfers to another one.
Panic Disorder. It is normal for people to experience one or two panic attacks in their lives, surrounding specific traumatic events. However, some people experience unexpected panic attacks more frequently, and feel even when there is no actual danger (which is a feature of panic disorder). Panic attacks, regardless of whether caused by a specific situation or a disorder, often include physical symptoms such as accelerated heartbeat, difficulty breathing, sweating, gastrointestinal upset.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (it is classified as a type of anxiety disorder). Individuals who suffer from this disorder are plagued by obsessions (repetitive thoughts) or feels compelled to perform repeated routines (compulsions), to an extent that interferes with major life functions.
Acute Stress Disorder and PTSD. These are disorders that develop in some (but not most) people after they experience or witness a frightening or dangerous event. People who suffer from these disorders continue to feel threatened, even after the danger passes. Acute Stress Disorder is the classification given to people who experience symptoms for one month; PTSD is classified for symptoms that last longer.
Social Anxiety. Although it is normal to feel nervous about public speaking or going to large parties where you don’t know anyone, some people find that regular, everyday interactions cause disruptive levels of anxiety and fear. Social Anxiety Disorder often hampers the sufferer’s ability to function comfortable at work, school, or other public environments due to a fear of judgement and embarrassment.