Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time.
We feel it when we’re prepping for a public speech or as we powder our face before a first date. Some butterflies are usual, but a generalized anxiety disorder is different.
No matter the type, anxiety can make you feel like you’re living in an endless cycle of irrational fears, unwelcome thoughts, and constant stress.
You may experience the physical effects more than the psychological or vice versa, causing you to spend most of your time self-managing your triggers and symptoms.
So, when is it time to seek anxiety therapy? What kinds of treatment options are out there? Let’s talk about it, so you can gain a better understanding of the hope that lies ahead
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Understanding Generalized Anxiety Disorder:
The word ‘anxiety’ is broad and can relate to many different feelings, emotions, or circumstances.
Some people feel anxious about money. Others may feel anxiety about their health. Still, some individuals feel constantly anxious over their relationships.
People suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) struggle with anxiety over many of the above things and more. These individuals experience a relentless, excessive, and intrusive feeling of stress, worry, or fear that doesn’t subside after certain situations have passed.
In some cases, people with GAD can feel extremely anxious for seemingly no reason at all. Generalized anxiety disorder is defined as a persistent feeling of worry over everyday life issues. It’s out of an individual’s control despite it often being blown out of proportion.
Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder:
If you struggle with GAD, then you’re well aware of both the physical and mental symptoms that can occur daily. Some people are more prone to experiencing the physical effects of anxiety, while others may battle more with the psychological symptoms.
Everyone’s experience with GAD is unique. However, these symptoms often go hand in hand for many people.
- Rapid heartbeat
- Stomach aches
- Tight chest
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling restless
- Feeling nervous
- Feeling irritable
- Feeling worried
- Fearing the worst
- A sense of dread
Are There Different Types Of Anxiety?
Yes! Generalized anxiety disorder isn’t the only type of anxiety. However, it is the broadest while also the most common.
A few other types of anxiety disorders include:
- Social Anxiety: This type of anxiety disorder occurs when an individual has an extreme
emotional reaction to public spaces, interacting with others, or being in social settings. If someone with social anxiety is forced into these situations, a panic attack may occur Additional forms of social anxiety can manifest after social interactions where you ruminate on your interactions. and perceive them through a negative lens that causes distress.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Otherwise known as OCD, this type of anxiety disorder manifests as extremely persistent intrusive thoughts (obsessions) as well as repetitive, impulse behaviors (compulsions). Not acting upon these behaviors will increase an individual’s anxiety.
- Panic Disorder: People that suffer from panic disorders experience abrupt, unexpected feelings of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms such as trouble breathing, hyperventilation, sweating, trembling, or nausea.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Chances are, you’ve heard of PTSD. One aspectt of PTSD is anxiety symptoms rooted in a traumatic event or events that an individual personally witnessed or experienced. This can leave them in a hypervigilant state of anxiety for months or even years after.
Now that we understand the different types that can arise let’s talk about when you should seek treatment for your generalized anxiety disorder.
How Do I Know If I Need Anxiety Therapy?
Many people choose to self-medicate their anxiety on their own. This frequently leads to self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse, shopping addictions, gambling problems, or other temporary highs. If left untreated, anxiety can not only get worse, but it can also damage your physical health as well as leave your body and mind in a constant state of ‘fight or flight’ mode.
Here are a few things to look out for that may indicate you need anxiety therapy:
- Your anxiety interferes with your relationships.
- Your anxiety doesn’t allow you a full night’s sleep.
- Your anxiety affects your ability to focus.
Your anxiety stops you from doing things you enjoy
- Your anxiety keeps you isolated from others.
- Your anxiety causes you to have suicidal thoughts,
In addition, if you’ve noticed your anxiety is damaging your physical health such as causing digestive issues or constant headaches, it might be time to seek therapy.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treatment Options:
So, you’ve decided to seek treatment for your anxiety – now what? Let’s discuss a few options out there so you can determine what’s right for you.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT):
“DBT works where other therapies fail” Jeremy Schwartz. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) has been a gold standard when treating anxiety. However, it often does not work with many people. DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy), however, can bridge this gap. The focus shifts from treating your anxiety symptoms as problems with traditional CBT to more of a focus on what is happening in the moment, accepting and essentially befriending and understanding your anxiety as is done with DBT.
DBT focuses on mindfulness and holding space for both the emotions and thoughts you are having and the actions you choose to take. It also works to help your distress tolerance skills grow as you explore how your anxiety impacts you, what emotions it causes, and the thoughts it’s creating. DBT creates the ability to understand more what is happening in your body and mind, be mindful and use your wise mind to choose a course of action, vs. letting anxiety drive the bus!
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
In some cases, anxiety stems from trauma or past experiences, such as in the form of PTSD. Finding a trauma therapist that specializes in uncovering and working through painful memories may help relieve your symptoms of anxiety. Working through trauma with treatments such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) can help heal past distressing experiences that may be contributing to your anxiety.
If you’re considering medications for your anxiety, it’s important to note that they’re not nearly as helpful on their own. Any educated mental health professional will encourage you to undergo therapy while taking medication for generalized anxiety disorder.
Most medications for anxiety do come with side effects, so it’s important to speak with your primary care physician about which kind will be the best fit for you.
If you feel like anxiety is taking over your mind, body, and daily life – it might be time to seek treatment. Anxiety can quickly decrease your quality of life, impact your relationships, and leave you feeling a shell of yourself. Dialectical behavioral Therapy, or EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) are not only successful treatments, but have both been used all over the globe as an effective form of anxiety treatment.
- How to cope with Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- When does anxiety warrant professional help
- Treatment options for generalized anxiety disorder
- Why DBT works for Anxiety where other therapies fail
- EMDR Therapy for PTSD Seattle
- Erin Dierickx Therapy – The Body and Emotions
Lindsey Ferris, MS, LMFTA, Washington State