Do you ever feel like you worry more than the average person?
Do find it difficult to sleep at night because you cannot stop thinking about your day, things that happened or what needs to get done?
Do you have physical symptoms that are not explained by a medical condition, such as a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, feeling nauseous, sweaty or dizzy?
Have you been told that you suffer from anxiety by a healthcare professional or feel like you are an anxious person?
Do you find that you are not living your best life because of anxiety or the issues above?
Keep reading to learn more about anxiety and what you can do to get relief.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is an ongoing feeling of dread, tension, impending doom or apprehension. Unlike when we feel scared as a clear response to danger, anxiety is a response to unknown threats and can be related to thoughts you may have about people, places or events. Like being scared, being anxious triggers the same physical factors that prepare us to manage a threat. These factors include a rapid heartbeat, muscle tension and fast breathing. Unlike fear, anxiety can sometimes feel like it is coming out of nowhere and you may not be able to put your finger on what is causing you to respond in that manner.
Anxiety is an umbrella term that encompasses several other disorders including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and phobia-related disorders.
Having anxiety does not mean you are alone. We know that most people start feeling some form of anxiety symptoms before they turn 21 years old. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States. Based on their current research, an estimated 19% of adults in the U.S. have suffered from any one of the many anxiety disorders in the past year. Moreover, women suffered from anxiety more than men during the past year.
As with many mental health disorders, anxiety is a condition that most people cannot see. Those around you can tell that you are not acting the same as they know you or that you have chosen to not participate in certain activities. Anxiety can also cause you to worry about how other people see you and you may not always be able to explain what you need from others. Other times, when you do explain your concerns, the advice you get may not be helpful such as being told to “take it easy” or that “it is going to be OK”, without really understanding what it is you are struggling with. Managing your anxiety means being able to do all of the things you once enjoyed with less discomfort.
There is help
There are many effective ways to treat anxiety. Treatment can include psychotherapy, medication or a combination of the two. After an assessment with your healthcare provider, together you can decide which treatment will best fit your needs.
Psychotherapy for anxiety
As with many other disorders, there are different forms of psychotherapies that treat anxiety disorders. In general, it is recommended you look for what is termed “evidence-based psychotherapy” which means the treatment has been tested and shown effective to treat the condition in question and that the provider has the expertise to provide this treatment to you.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based treatment that is effective in treating anxiety. In this treatment approach, you learn how your thoughts, feelings and behaviors are linked. The therapist will help you change the way you think and behave in an effort to alleviate your emotional discomfort. There are many techniques that fall under CBT. One example is challenging negative beliefs. With this technique, you analyze your own thoughts, find evidence for these thoughts, think more deeply about these thoughts and held beliefs and make modifications in your conclusions based on this analysis.
Treating your anxiety with an Evermore Wellness provider
It is important to understand that with treating any mental health condition, the first step is identifying and setting the plan or goal for treatment. It is important to know what you want to get out of treatment and what changes you are expecting to result from your investment in psychotherapy. Treatment can include educating you on what is expected with certain anxiety disorders, how a diagnosis is made and how anxiety affects you personally. Therapy will offer you a safe space to discuss your concerns without feeling shame or guilt. It will also provide you with a plan for treatment that fits your specific needs and this includes techniques to reduce your anxiety, to understand why certain situations make you uncomfortable and to reduce your symptoms so that your reaction to situations is not an exaggeration of the events around you.
Does this mean you should expect to feel no anxiety at the end of treatment? The simple answer is no. The longer answer is that feeling uncomfortable, stressed or worried are normal parts of living and that you need to have these feelings so you can act accordingly in threatening situations. Treatment is not supposed to take your uncomfortable feelings away, but will help you cope with normal, natural, daily events in a way that does not disrupt your day-to-day activities. Our goal in helping you manage your anxiety is that you leave therapy feeling like you have the appropriate coping skills to handle difficult situations that can cause significant anxiety while also feeling like you are still in control.
Our providers are usually trained in several modalities to treat mental health conditions and we are always pursuing continuing education to assure we stay current with our knowledge of our profession. We use our experience to assure treatment is working for you and make changes as necessary during your treatment journey. If you ever feel that therapy is not working or if a technique does not fit your needs, our providers will work with you to make sure you are getting the most out of your care with us.
Will I need medication for my anxiety?
Medication is another form of treatment. Medications will help alleviate the physical symptoms of anxiety. Without an evaluation, no one can tell you if medication, therapy or a combination of both is your best option. Medications do not cure anxiety disorders. Medications can be provided to you by a medical provider including your primary doctor, a psychiatrist or a nurse with specialized training and licensure. While some states allow psychologists with specialized training to prescribe medication, New Jersey does not allow this practice. It is important to remember that while medication can and most likely will reduce or stop your anxiety symptoms, if you do not address the reasons behind your anxiety or learn skills to better cope, your symptoms will return if nothing in your life is changed and you stop your medication.