Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues facing Americans. In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 19.1% of American adults–about 40 million–have an anxiety disorder. When anxiety interferes with daily life functions, it may be time to seek a medical professional to discuss whether or not an anxiety disorder may be at play. Despite anxiety disorders being prevalent, only approximately 37% of people experiencing anxiety disorders receive professional counseling treatment and therapy. Many suffering from this don’t realize it’s an entirely treatable condition that can be solved with something as simple as online anxiety counseling from the comfort of their own home.
What is Anxiety?
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.” When the brain senses a potentially dangerous situation, it releases hormones that give us that tell-tale panicky feeling: increased heart-rate, sweating, quickened breath. On its own, anxiety is a normal, healthy emotion everyone experiences. We even benefit from it. Anxiety signals to us that we may be at risk and may keep us from making poor decisions or avoid danger. When anxiety is a normal emotion, it comes and goes and does not impact our overall experience of life.
What are Anxiety Disorders? Who Gets Them?
In some people, panic responses switch on very easily. That’s an anxiety disorder. Individuals with a chronic anxiety disorder experience panic symptoms for no reason, or very easily and they often don’t go away. They feel hopeless or debilitated. For those suffering from a disorder, having this feeling never go away only compounds and worsens those initial feelings over time.
Imagine putting on a winter coat to protect yourself from the cold. You went out without a coat, maybe for a whole day, and you’re concerned you’re never going to warm up. and being convinced that you’re always going to be cold. So you put on another layer, and then another, despite the seasons changing. You’re protecting yourself from the next winter because you’re remembering how awful the cold was. When midsummer comes and you have four layers on and it’s 100 degrees, your body won’t be able to take it. You’ll likely pass out.
This is an apt metaphor for an anxiety disorder. The bad feelings, dread and worry heap on leading to the person being unable to leave their bed or house. This also explains why anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand.
The American Psychiatric Association finds women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety vs. Anxiety Disorders
The feeling of anxiety can be a normal reaction to certain situations. However, an anxiety disorder is an excess of anxiety symptoms at times when an anxious response is not needed and beneficial to the individual.
If you were blindfolded and asked to cross a busy street, anxiety would be beneficial. The discomfort of anxiety symptoms would likely lead you to politely decline. Your body’s reaction to danger (anxiety) is an innate response that helps keep you safe.
On the other hand, if you had the same symptoms any time you heard the sound of a busy road, this could be the sign of an anxiety disorder requiring help like counseling. This is an unhealthy and unproductive anxiety response signaling that there is danger when there isn’t any. Anxiety disorders can impair people’s day to day lives and can impact their quality of life.
Causes of Anxiety
Studies throughout the years pinpoint several consistent factors that increase the chances of developing anxiety disorder. Experts and research institutions agree that there are several factors contributing to the development of these disorders.
Factors in the Development of Anxiety Disorders
Brain Chemistry. The areas of your brain that control your fear response may be altered and affected by traumatic experiences such as combat and being a victim of abuse, making them more reactive to stimuli.
Genetics. Anxiety can run in families. Just like specific, physical traits pass from parents, anxiety disorders pass from parent to child.
Situations and Experiences. Stressful situations such as losing a job, relationship conflict, or financial stress can lead to an anxiety disorder requiring counseling. Not handling the stress of these situations, or ones like them, in a healthy manner can lead to an anxiety disorder.
No matter the cause, anxiety counseling assists in getting to the root cause and treating it to manage anxiety with the goal of reducing overall symptoms.
Are There Different Types of Anxiety Disorders?
The most common type of anxiety is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This diagnosis is generally for people that display excessive angst or worry most days of the week for 6 months or more.
Other less common anxiety disorders include Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Social Phobias or Social Anxiety Disorders.
Do I Have an Anxiety Disorder Requiring Counseling?
If you experience the following symptoms frequently, you may be experiencing unecessary (and avoidable!) anxiety.
- restlessness, and a feeling of being “on-edge”
- increased irritability
- concentration difficulties
- sick stomach and digestive issues
- not being able to control your thoughts
- sleep difficulties (problems falling/staying asleep, nightmares)
- not engaging in activities or things that were previously enjoyed
- uncontrollable feelings of fear and worry
Anxiety Counseling is the Most Effective Way to Start Treatment
The most effective way to treat and manage this condition is through a combination of psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, and in more intense cases, medication. Anxiety counseling is a great way to learn about where your anxiety is stemming from. Once you and your counselor identify the catalyst for your anxiety you’ll move onto learning techniques to decrease your symptoms. Anxiety counseling is personalized. Your therapist will work with you to practice and integrate the strategies that are best for you. Everyone is different. Anxiety counseling is a time to discover the approaches to managing symptoms that is best for you. Some are:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Long baths
If you or someone you know is having the symptoms above, it’s a good time to explore anxiety counseling. Anxiety disorders are 100% treatable, but without some sort of professional treatment they tend to get more severe over time. There is no need to harm yourself further by living with an anxiety disorder. Schedule a free individual consultation with us today. With the proper counseling & therapy we can offer, you will live a much happier life.