Anxiety Counseling – Therapy, Coaching in Cumming,GA

By Barb C. Wilson, Ph.D., LPC, CPCS, DCC, NCC

My son and I were recently watching an episode of The Walking Dead (Kirkman, 2010) when he mentioned being afraid of a jump scare. He didn’t want to watch a particular scene because he felt like something, a “jump scare,” was going to happen and he didn’t want to see. You could feel the tension building in the scene. The music got dramatic, the action of the scene slowed down, all of it setting the stage for the perfect jump scare opportunity. Nothing ended up happening though. This feeling of anticipation is what it feels like for many people who experience an anxiety disorder. The difference, however, is we all might experience the suspenseful moment during The Walking Dead, but, someone with an anxiety disorder might feel like that at any point in time.

Anxiety is something we all experience. We feel the tension, the anticipation, of an event occurring. Anxiety is a normal response and feeling to stress (American Psychiatric Association, 2017). Some people, however, experience anxiety at a much different level. It’s like living life with a nearly constant fear of the “jump scare.” For people who experience this type of anxiety, it feels like excessive worry or fear that hinders their quality of life. This level of anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, increased breathing, dizziness, stomach discomfort, and nausea (Mental Health America, 2017). Thoughts such as “What if I pass out?” and “What will people say when they notice I am reacting like this?” start to become the self-talk. A cyclical effect occurs within the feelings, the symptoms, and thinking about the feelings and symptoms, often leaving the person feeling exhausted when the moment of anxiety eventually passes. Experiencing anxiety such as this can often lead to avoidant behaviors and can affect work, school, and personal relationships.

Nearly 30% of adults in North America experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives (American Psychiatric Association, 2017). Research has shown that risk factors include both genetics and environmental stressors (American Psychiatric Association, 2017). Unfortunately, only about 30% of those diagnosed will seek treatment (Folk, 2017). There is a high propensity for drug abuse and addictions among people with anxiety disorders, which may be evidence of people attempting to self-medicate their symptoms (Folk, 2017).

There are healthier and more effective options; having an anxiety disorder isn’t a life sentence. It is important to remember that anxiety disorders are treatable through a combination of interventions, including medication and talk therapy. A medical doctor can also assess for biological components. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common and effective approach in talk therapy to help with the negative thoughts that contribute to the feelings of anxiety. Anxiety disorders include Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Specific Phobias, and Social Anxiety Disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) (Mental Health America, 2017).

Anxiety and depression are often considered the fraternal twins of mood disorders (Tracy, 2016). Among those diagnosed with major depression, 85% are also diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and 35% are diagnosed with Panic Disorder (Tracy, 2016). There is a high suicide rate among people diagnosed with depression and anxiety. In fact, in one study, 92% of depressed patients with a history of suicide attempt(s) were also diagnosed with severe anxiety (Tracy, 2016).

Nobody should feel plagued by the feelings associated with anxiety. Sometimes the hardest part of getting on the path to feeling better is taking the first step. There are methods that work and people who can help.

Bibliography
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
American Psychiatric Association. (2017, January). What Are Anxiety Disorders? Retrieved from American Psychiatric Association: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/anxiety-disorders/what-are-anxiety-disorders
American Psychological Association. (2017, August 26). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from www.apa.org: http://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety/
Folk, J. &. (2017, April 25). anxietycentre.com. Retrieved from anxietycentre.com: http://www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety-statistics.shtml
Kirkman, R. A. (Writer). (2010). The Walking Dead: The First Complete Season [Motion Picture].
Mental Health America. (2017). Retrieved from Mental Health America: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/anxiety-disorders
Seltzer, L. (2010, May 19). Anxiety and depression– First cousins. Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201005/anxiety-and-depression-first-cousins-least-part-1-5
Tracy, N. (2016, June 15). Relationship Between Anxiety and Depression. Retrieved from Healthy Place: www.healthyplace.com

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