Anxiety is a biological mechanism designed to protect us from dangerous situations. A little anxiety is natural; in normal doses it protects us. When it is excessive, it imprisons us.
If your anxiety is so strong that you are constantly preoccupied by it, or if it affects your ability to function normally – at work, or socially or in other areas – then your anxiety would be considered a disorder.
Most anxiety disorders can be defined as the fear of losing control. There are successful and effective interventions for many anxiety disorders.
What is it?
Anxiety disorders are a group of psychological problems whose symptoms include excessive anxiety, fear, worry, avoidance, and compulsive rituals. They are more commonly diagnosed in women than in men and include:
- Panic Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Social Phobia
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Specific phobia (single phobia or simple phobia)
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder – fear following a traumatic event.
General physical manifestations of anxiety disorders include
- Heart palpitations
- Elevated blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Choking sensation
- Numbness or tingling
- Hot or cold flashes
Treatments for anxiety
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most widely-used therapy for anxiety disorders. Research has shown it to be effective in the treatment of panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder, among many other conditions.
CBT addresses negative patterns and distortions in the way we look at the world and ourselves. As the name suggests, this involves two main components:
Cognitive therapy examines how negative thoughts, or cognitions, contribute to anxiety.
Behavior therapy examines how you behave and react in situations that trigger anxiety.
The basic premise of CBT is that our thoughts—not external events—affect the way we feel. In other words, it’s not the situation you’re in that determines how you feel, but your perception of the situation.
- Relaxation Techniques and Self-Care Strategies
- Yoga and Meditation
- Deep Breathing Exercises
- Mindfulness practices
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation