Anxiety Disorders & Symptoms*

What is Anxiety?

Everyone experiences anxiety on a regular basis; it is a natural part of our lives and functioning. All too often, people tend to associate experiencing anxiety with “there’s something wrong with me.” While anxiety may be uncomfortable or unsettling, it generally does not rise to the level of an anxiety disorder so long as the anxiety symptoms are temporary or minor. However, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, when the anxiety does not go away or gets worse over time, the person may be experiencing symptoms related to an anxiety disorder. Such a disorder may cause the anxiety feelings to interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships. There are three types of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

What are some signs of a Generalized-Anxiety Disorder?

Everyone experiences anxiety in different ways and there is no exact formula or equation to know if you have such a disorder. However, the following are a list of symptoms that may indicate the existence of an anxiety-related disorder:

  • Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge;
  • Being easily fatigued;
  • Difficulty concentrating or having their minds go blank;
  • Irritability;
  • Muscle tension;
  • Difficulty controlling the worry;
  • Sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless, unsatisfying sleep).

What are some signs of a Panic Disorder?

Panic disorders are intense physiological reactions to extreme anxiety or fear. Classic examples are panic that occurs when a person is in a confined space, standing at a high altitude, in an airplane, in the dark, etc. Often times, we cannot understand why we are experiencing such intense emotions and reactions in our bodies, and cannot discern a logical explanation. Typical symptoms of a panic disorder are:

  • Sudden and repeated attacks of intense fear
  • Feelings of being out of control during a panic attack
  • Intense worries about when the next attack will happen
  • Fear or avoidance of places where panic attacks have occurred in the past

What are some signs of a Social-Anxiety Disorder?

Social-Anxiety disorders are a subset of panic disorders, and generally occur when a person is exposed or in certain social situations. For some people, the fear is so intense that they cannot go into public places or be around other people. This disorder can be very debilitating for people as it can cause intense isolation and lead to other conditions, such as depression. Typical symptoms of a panic disorder are:

  • Feeling highly anxious about being with other people and having a hard time talking to them
  • Feeling very self-conscious in front of other people and worried about feeling humiliated, embarrassed, or rejected, or fearful of offending others
  • Being very afraid that other people will judge them
  • Worrying for days or weeks before an event where other people will be
  • Staying away from places where there are other people
  • Having a hard time making friends and keeping friends
  • Blushing, sweating, or trembling around other people
  • Feeling nauseous or sick to your stomach when other people are around.

Free Resources and Publications

The National Institute of Mental Health offers several free publications about Anxiety Disorders. Please click on the links below to view thee following publications:

How can We help you?

While professional help in the form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most universally-accepted form of therapy for anxiety, we believe that there are many underlying reasons which result in a person experiencing excessive anxiety. We work with our clients using systemic models and techniques which look at the whole person and how they relate to others. We do not diagnose our clients. When you come to our office and we meet each other and work together, we don’t look at you and see “anxiety” or a “disorder”, but, rather,  a person who has entered into a relationship with anxiety and we work together to better understand that relationship and make it work for you.

Some therapists or psychologists are focused on your diagnosis and treating the “problem.” Our focus, on the contrary, is working holistically with you as a person and individual to strip-away your outer, protective layers and explore what’s hiding under the visible surface. We take pride in working with you at a pace that works for you – not us – and in a sensitive and supportive manner which respects your current situation. Essentially, we meet you where you are.

I’m anxious about therapy. How do I calm my fear of the unknown?

The focus of our treatment for you will be present-focused, goal-oriented, and collaborative. We firmly believe that clients play an active role in therapy. We will discuss various anxiety treatment options, and discuss the pros-and-cons of each modality. Progress towards goals is measured throughout therapy so that our clients see their growth over time.

We strive to create a therapist-client relationship which is warm, compassionate, and supportive. It is our belief that therapeutic change stems from the quality of the relationship that exists between the client and the therapist. Therefore, adequate time in therapy is spent on creating not just a safe, confidential, and trusting relationship between clients and us, but a genuine connection where clients feel heard, understood, and important.

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*The information provided on this page is for general information use only, and is not specific to nor intended to be applicable your particular situation.

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