What is Anxiety? Treatment, Therapy and Counseling

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What is Anxiety?

An anxious man talking to a friend about his frustration

Anxiety can be a normal emotion most people experience at various points throughout their life. Anxiety is that feeling of worry, fear, or nervousness that can peak at stressful times, such as when giving presentations or having difficult conversations. While it can be healthy to experience some amount of anxiety throughout life, it’s not normal to have consistent feelings of anxiety that overwhelm you regularly.

Struggling with anxiety is very common and not a reason to feel ashamed. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), over 31% of adults in the United States will experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives, and over 19% have struggled with an anxiety disorder in just the last year.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety affects each person differently, but most people experience a combination of physical and psychological symptoms when struggling with anxiety. If you find that anxiety-related symptoms are interfering with your daily life, it could be a sign that you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder.

  • Excessive worry that is difficult to control
  • Restlessness, nervousness, or tension
  • Rapid breathing (hyperventilation)
  • Easily fatigued
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling a sense of impending doom or panic
  • Irritability
  • Increased heart rate
  • Muscle tension
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal issues
  • Trembling
  • Sleep disturbance
  • The urge to avoid situations that trigger anxiety

Risk Factors for Anxiety

While anyone can experience anxiety, there are risk factors that make someone more likely to suffer from an anxiety disorder. The following factors have the potential to increase someone’s risk of developing an anxiety disorder at some point during their lifetime:

  • Trauma – The more trauma or high-stress events someone experiences before age 21, the more likely they are to develop anxiety later in life. These events include enduring any abuse or witnessing traumatic events, among others.
  • Health Condition or Illness – Experiencing a severe illness or chronic health condition can cause worries related to medical issues or treatment and trigger anxiety symptoms. If not handled appropriately, these symptoms can turn into an unmanageable anxiety disorder.
  • Consistent Stress – A stressful life event such as the death of a loved one or losing a job can trigger excessive anxiety. Persistent, more minor stressful situations, such as ongoing financial concerns or other stressors, can also trigger anxiety.
  • Personality – Some individuals are more prone to experiencing anxiety disorders than others based on their nature. Personality traits such as shyness, extreme emotional sensitivity, and rigidness can make someone more likely to develop anxiety.
  • Depression  Individuals with other mental health disorders, such as depression, can also develop an anxiety disorder.
  • Genetics – Anxiety disorders tend to run in families, and having blood relatives with an anxiety disorder increases your likelihood of developing one, too.
  • Parental Absence – If you lost a parent or your parents were gone for extended lengths of time when you were a child, you are more likely to suffer from anxiety.
  • Substance Abuse – The misuse of drugs or alcohol can cause or worsen anxiety symptoms. 

Types of Anxiety

Anxiety disorders can cause people to want to avoid triggers or situations that worsen their symptoms. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, there are five main types of anxiety disorders: 

A person with anxiety disorder behaving with obsessive compulsive disorder washing hands until they turn red.
Repetitive rituals such as excessive handwashing, and cleaning can be an
indication of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) involves persistent and excessive anxiety, including worrying about future events. Even routine activities can bring about worry that is out of proportion compared to the actual event. The worry can be difficult to control and can manifest physical symptoms.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) includes recurrent and unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Repetitive behaviors or rituals such as excessive handwashing, cleaning, or checking, are performed with the thought that carrying them out will prevent these obsessive thoughts or make them go away. Performing these rituals, however, typically only provides temporary relief, and not being able to perform them results in dramatically increased feelings of anxiety.
  • Panic Disorder is the experience of unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear. This fear can also accompany physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, abdominal distress, or heart palpitations.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) develops after exposure to a terrifying event where serious harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events known to trigger PTSD include violent assaults, accidents, military combat, and disasters.

Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder) can present in various social circumstances. It is the overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness that can occur in occasional or everyday social situations. In the most severe social phobias, a person may experience extreme anxiety almost every time they are around other people.

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Treatment Options for Anxiety in Arizona

There are many treatment options for anxiety therapy at Mental Health Center of America Phoenix & Mesa locations. Our team of therapists uses evidence-based treatment options for anxiety to help you feel better and conquer your anxiety disorder. Treatment options offered include:

A woman in a red blouse doing EMDR therapy with a therapist.
With EMDR, a therapist uses a finger, light, buzzer, or another device to help
the patient focus on the traumatic memory or experience while
simultaneously stimulating the brain with rhythmic eye movements,
tones, or taps.
  • Psychodynamic Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Relational Therapy
  • EMDR
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  • Trauma-Focused Therapy
  • Mindfulness-Based Interventions

Our therapists collaborate with each client to choose an approach to treatment based on your individual needs and goals and create a custom treatment plan with you. Treatment options for anxiety may incorporate anxiety therapymedication, and neurofeedback

Anxiety therapy treatment also integrates self-care and wellness activities such as cold exposureheat exposure, mindfulness, and physical activity. Individuals who commit to anxiety therapy experience positive results and learn coping skills and strategies to help them manage their anxiety symptoms and more easily navigate life’s challenges.

Find Counseling for Anxiety Therapy in Phoenix & Mesa, Arizona

Anxiety symptoms can be debilitating if you don’t seek out proper treatment. At Mental Health Center of America, we provide anxiety therapy that will improve your quality of life and allow you to reach your fullest potential. We are proud to be a top provider of Arizona mental health services and have counselors in Phoenix ready to help you overcome your anxiety disorder today.

If you find that you have feelings of excessive worry, avoid certain situations to minimize feelings of fear, or regularly experience any other anxiety symptoms, you may want to consider discussing these concerns with ​a ​mental health professional such as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. Schedule your appointment today to start your healing journey.

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