Anxiety Therapy

Therapy for Anxiety

Anxiety can present itself in a number of specific and very different ways, each of which is distressing to the person who is experiencing the symptoms. Chronic worrying, compulsions and rituals, obsessive thoughts, panic attacks, and phobias are all manifestations of anxiety.

Although you may have tried techniques to change your thoughts and behaviors, and faced your fears, you may still feel anxious and need professional support.

Overcoming fear or anxiety is extremely challenging. It requires hard work and courage, and although you may want to give up, I will be there to reassure and inspire you to “climb the mountain”.  The journey is worthwhile.

What causes Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders are typically triggered by stress, like consistently having too much to do and not enough time to do it.  There are environmental or external factors like stress about finances and money, medical factors like drug abuse or withdrawal, brain chemistry and sometimes a combination of one or more of these factors.

Perception and Anxiety

Anxiety is a response to situations that happen to us.  However, it is more probable that we can create anxiety within ourselves with negative self talk or belief systems involving fear, continuously focusing on the worst possible outcome.  When it comes to outside forces, our perception of what is happening to us has a great deal to do with whether we experience anxiety.

Environmental Factors

Some common environmental factors that have been known to cause anxiety include stress at work, stress in a personal relationship, trauma, victimization, death of a loved one and stress at school.  There are more uncommon environmental factors that lead to anxiety such as stress from a natural disaster like a hurricane, or lack of oxygen in a high altitude area.

Catastrophic Thinking causing Anxiety

Anxiety can also be caused by something referred to as “Catastrophic Thinking.”  There are many people who get into the habit of thinking about the worst that can happen and start imagining scenarios that will most likely never take place.  With catastrophic thinking, the person creates anxiety within themselves by expanding the imagined unlikely scenarios fearing the worst.

Trauma and Anxiety

Anxiety can certainly follow trauma from events like the death of a loved one, multiple stressors happening all at the same time, like changing jobs, moving and having a death in the family all within a very short time frame.  This type of situation is rare but when it does happen it can cause a great deal of anxiety.

Medical Factors causing Anxiety

Naturally, withdrawing from drugs and drug abuse can cause anxiety and that includes alcohol withdrawal and anxiety medication withdrawal.   Drug abuse is a factor as well.  In fact, it is estimated that approximately half of the patients who use mental health services for anxiety disorders like panic disorder or social phobia are doing so because of alcohol or benzodiazepine dependence.  Anxiety is commonly known to be a result from intoxication from an illicit drug like amphetamines or cocaine.

Diabetes, heart disease and thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism are linked to anxiety.   Other medical conditions linked to anxiety include asthma, irritable bowel syndrome and rare tumors that produce “fight or flight” hormones.  Premenstrual syndrome, pre-menopause and menopause can cause anxiety.

Keep in mind that anxiety can also be a side effect of particular medications.

Genetics

There are some people who have a genetic predisposition to anxiety and it has been suggestion by some researcher that a family history of anxiety increases the likelihood that a person will develop it.

Brain Chemistry

When neurotransmitters in the brain are not working properly, the brain’s internal communication network breaks down and the brain may react inappropriately in certain situation, usually stressful situations and this can lead to anxiety.

Diagnosing Anxiety Disorders

Dr. Stern is a very experienced psychologist who will be able to diagnose anxiety and help you to identify the causes of it.   We will take a careful medical and personal history and order lab tests if needed.  There is no one laboratory test that can be used to diagnose anxiety but tests may provide useful information regarding a medical condition that may be causing physical illness or other anxiety symptoms.

Patients with anxiety disorder often present symptoms similar to clinical depression and vice-versa. It is rare for a patient to exhibit symptoms of only one of these.