Wellness Road Psychology
Psychologists located in Midtown East, New York, NY & Tarrytown, NY
Anxiety can be a difficult and overwhelming experience. It can affect your daily life and make it difficult to enjoy the things you once loved. At our practice, we understand the challenges of living with anxiety and we're here to help. Our therapists are trained to work with individuals dealing with anxiety and can provide you with the support and guidance you need to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Live Free from Anxiety Symptoms with Wellness Road Psychology
Anxiety disorders affect more than three million adults in the United States every year. Experiencing anxiety disorders can be overwhelming and impact the quality of life. Wellness Road Psychology’s team of compassionate professionals helps treat the immediate effects of anxiety. We also help equip patients to live a life free from the symptoms of anxiety disorders and concurring conditions.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is an ordinary emotion people experience in response to challenging or potentially dangerous situations. However, it can become an issue when it persists over a long period and interferes with the ability to perform everyday activities.
An anxiety disorder is a psychiatric condition characterized by feelings of fear, worry, and uneasiness that are intense enough to cause significant distress and disrupt daily life. It affects approximately 20% of adults in the United States annually, and treatment is available to help manage symptoms.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Predominantly, anxiety is a sense of dread, danger, or distress. Each person experiences this in different ways. Anxiety symptoms may also develop or change over time or differ with varying stimuli.
Anxiety disorders manifest in many ways, including panic attacks, physical symptoms such as sweating and trembling, fear of social situations, nightmares, or intrusive thoughts. It is important to note that the intensity and duration of these symptoms can vary significantly from person to person.
Anxiety triggers a rise in cortisol levels in the blood. This results in a variety of physiological responses. For example, there may be a faster heart rate, increased sweating, or raised glucose levels.
Suppressed Immune System
The body reduces healing processes when under a perceived threat. During prolonged stress, an individual can experience autoimmune disorders and inflammation. As a result, the risk for cardiological conditions also increases.
How is Anxiety Diagnosed?
Anxiety disorders are diagnosed based on a person’s symptoms and the severity of those symptoms. A doctor or mental health professional will typically use a diagnostic interview to assess whether someone has an anxiety disorder. This will involve asking questions about any stressful events experienced in the past, current stressors and feelings, physical symptoms, and any family history of mental health issues.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria are also used to diagnose anxiety disorders. These criteria specify that a person must have experienced several symptoms over an extended period, such as persistent fear or worry, physical symptoms like sweating or trembling, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty concentrating.
Sometimes, a doctor may order blood tests or imaging scans to rule out any physical conditions that could be causing the anxiety symptoms. They may also refer you to a psychologist for further assessment and diagnosis, that’s where we come in.
Causes of Anxiety
Understanding what causes anxiety can be helpful for those who are struggling with this mental health condition. The causes of stress can be complex and vary from person to person. However, these are some of the factors that may make someone more predisposed to anxiety disorders.
A family history of mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression, is one indicator that a person may have a genetic predisposition to developing an anxiety disorder. Certain studies show it may be inherited. In addition, specific genes show a correlation to anxiety disorders, such as the RBFOX1 gene.
Abnormalities in brain structure, chemistry, or function may also play a role in the presence of an anxiety disorder. For example, those with physical disabilities can experience anxiety as a result. Additionally, injury or illness may trigger it. For example, there is a link between TBI and anxiety.
Anxiety is the body’s “fight or flight” mode in overdrive. Traumatic experiences or stressful situations, such as divorce, the death of a loved one, job loss, or moving to a new city, can trigger intense fear and worry for some people. This may lead to an anxiety disorder.
The use of drugs and alcohol can increase feelings of fear, worry, and self-doubt, leading to an anxiety disorder. It also changes the brain’s chemistry by releasing and regulating serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin. As a result, the body physiologically responds with symptoms of anxiety.
Substance abuse can lead to an anxiety disorder by impairing judgment and inhibiting self-control. In addition, when under the influence of drugs or alcohol, people may make decisions that could increase their risk of developing a mental health condition such as anxiety.
Additionally, substance abuse can disrupt healthy sleep patterns, which are essential for managing stress and controlling emotions. Over time, these disruptions can cause overwhelming worry or fear, even when not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The environment in which a person grows up can significantly impact the development of an anxiety disorder. For example, growing up in a family or community with high-stress levels, criticism, conflict, and other negative influences can create an environment that increases fear and worry for some people. In addition, toxic relationships with peers, family members, and authority figures can lead to feelings of helplessness or insecurity that increase the risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
Other environmental factors also impact the well-being of a person. Issues such as noise pollution, poor water quality, or reduced air quality can contribute to anxiety. Even a lack of green spaces is connected to increased anxiety disorders.
Certain medical conditions or illnesses can cause a person to experience physical symptoms associated with anxiety, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue. Some medical conditions that can induce anxiety-related symptoms include thyroid problems, heart disease, asthma, and diabetes.
Some medications used to treat physical health issues can also cause anxiety as a side effect. Patients may need to speak with their doctor about changing or adjusting their medication regimen in these cases. It is also essential to rule out other medical conditions before determining if one’s symptoms are due to an anxiety disorder. Only a mental health professional can diagnose an anxiety disorder. Therefore, those experiencing persistent fear or worry must seek help to get the appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan for their unique situation.
Negative thinking patterns that lead to inaccurate beliefs about oneself or the world may also contribute to an anxiety disorder. For example, assuming that adverse events will always occur in life (catastrophizing) is one way cognitive distortions can cause or worsen anxiety symptoms.
Long-Term Effects of Anxiety
Long-term anxiety affects almost every aspect of an individual's life. It impacts an individual in many ways: personal, financial, health wise, and relationships. Also, it impedes a person's physical and mental well-being. For example, they may experience digestive issues, chronic fatigue, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating. Other problems may arise to cope, such as substance abuse. Depression also may develop in response to the change in the quality of life.
How Anxiety Treatment Can Help
Anxiety treatment is an individualized process involving the collaboration of a mental health professional and the patient to reduce anxiety symptoms. Treatments for anxiety may include cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, mindfulness techniques, stress management techniques, nutritional counseling, medication management, or a combination of these approaches. Treatment plans should be tailored to meet each person’s unique needs and goals for managing their anxiety symptoms.
The goal of treatment for anxiety disorders is to help individuals identify and challenge unhealthy thinking patterns and develop healthy coping strategies that will enable them to live more fulfilling lives. With the right support system and appropriate treatments, those struggling with an anxiety disorder can successfully manage their symptoms on their journey to recovery.
Types of Anxiety
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
This is the most common type of anxiety disorder—people with GAD experience excessive, irrational worry and tension about everyday life events and activities. Symptoms may include restlessness, difficulty concentrating, feeling keyed up or on edge, fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
People with SAD intensely fear being judged by others in social settings and are overly self-conscious in everyday situations. They may exhibit a fear of being humiliated or embarrassed in front of others, difficulty making eye contact, difficulty talking to people, sweating, trembling, and nausea.
This type of anxiety disorder causes unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms such as a racing heart, chest pain, dizziness, and shortness of breath. These episodes of anxiety can last several minutes and can strike without warning.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
People with OCD experience persistent unwanted thoughts or fears that repeatedly lead them to do specific rituals or routines. Symptoms may include the need to check things multiple times, perform tasks in a certain way or wash their hands excessively.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder is triggered by a traumatic event, such as witnessing a death or natural disaster. Symptoms may include nightmares, flashbacks, hopelessness, and intense fear when exposed to trauma reminders. As a result, people with this disorder often feel emotionally numb and disconnected from others.
A phobia is an intense fear of something or a situation, such as heights, flying, blood, or spiders. When exposed to the feared object or situation, symptoms can include extreme anxiety, rapid breathing, shaking, and even a full-blown panic attack. A practitioner with experience treating phobias helps to alleviate these feelings.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
This anxiety disorder is most common among young children but can also affect adults. People with this disorder experience excessive worry about separation from home or loved ones, such as a parent or significant other. Symptoms may include nervousness when separated, difficulty sleeping away from home, and nightmares related to separation.
Substance/Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorder
People with this type of anxiety disorder experience symptoms caused by substance use or medication use, such as alcohol, stimulants, or anti-anxiety medications. Symptoms may include restlessness, feeling on edge, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances.
Treatment Options for Anxiety
Treatment for anxiety disorders typically includes medications, psychotherapy, or both. Medications commonly used to treat anxiety include antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and beta-blockers. Psychotherapy can help people learn new coping skills and relaxation techniques to manage their symptoms better. Using a combination of techniques is typical. These are some of the most prevalent therapies.
Anxiety Treatment Therapies
Many methods are effective in treating and reducing anxiety. Using a combination of techniques is commonly used. These are some of the most prevalent therapies.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of cognitive behavior therapy that focuses on helping individuals manage their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors healthily. This type of therapy emphasizes acceptance and change to help people improve their distress tolerance. In addition, DBT teaches mindfulness, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance, which can help individuals better cope with their condition.
Mindfulness-based therapies involve learning to be more present in the moment and allowing yourself to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings without judgment. This type of therapy encourages you to observe your thoughts rather than becoming caught up in them.
How Mindfulness-Base Therapy Works
During mindfulness-based therapy, a therapist will guide you through various exercises and practices that help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings without letting them take control of your life. These techniques help to create a sense of calm and improve overall well-being. You may also learn relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation which can be used when feeling overwhelmed by anxiety.
Benefits of Mindfulness Therapy
Mindfulness-based therapies can help reduce anxiety and stress, improve self-acceptance, and increase overall well-being. These techniques can also give you more control over how you respond to challenging situations by helping you identify any negative thought patterns or behaviors that could be contributing to your anxiety.
Exposure therapy is a cognitive-behavioral therapy that helps people confront and overcome their fears. It involves gradually introducing someone to the source of fear, such as a particular situation or activity, to decrease anxiety over time. This can help reduce anxiety-related physical symptoms, such as increased heart rate and sweating.
Skills Learned in Exposure Therapy
Exposure therapy teaches deep breathing and relaxation techniques, cognitive restructuring, problem-solving strategies, and positive self-talk. These skills can help people better understand their anxiety and how to manage it healthily. This type of therapy also encourages individuals to challenge any opposing thoughts or beliefs associated with their fears.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a specialized form of cognitive behavior therapy that helps individuals recognize, accept, and manage their anxiety. ACT aims to help people become more mindful and present in the moment.
This can be achieved by observing thoughts without judgment and focusing on what matters most. This approach allows individuals to let go of anxious thoughts and reactions while embracing healthier behaviors. Additionally, ACT focuses on helping clients develop skills such as problem-solving, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and mindfulness. These skills can better equip individuals with the tools needed to cope with stressful situations and ultimately reduce feelings of anxiety.
Family therapy can effectively treat anxiety, as it helps create a supportive and understanding environment. During family therapy sessions, the therapist works with the individual and their loved ones to address any issues contributing to their anxiety. This type of therapy also allows people to learn how to communicate better with one another and develop healthier coping strategies when faced with stressful situations. Additionally, family therapy can provide helpful insight into how the individual's behavior affects others and vice versa. This can help them become more aware of triggers and warning signs so they can take steps toward managing their anxiety more effectively.
Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing a person to their fear in a safe and controlled environment. This process helps them confront the fear and eventually become less anxious. Exposure therapy can effectively treat phobias, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety, and other forms of anxiety.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
(CBT) is a popular form of therapy for people with anxiety. This type of therapy looks at how our thoughts and behaviors can influence our feelings and emotions. CBT aims to identify unhelpful thinking patterns, replace them with more helpful ones, and learn strategies to cope better with stressful situations.
CBT is an effective treatment for anxiety in several studies. CBT was found to be one of the most effective methods in treating people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This suggests that CBT may be a good option for people with anxiety who do not want to take medication or who have not succeeded.
Skills You Learn During Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Self-monitoring is a critical component of CBT and closely tracks thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. For example, it may include journaling exercises. This helps clients identify patterns in their reactions that may contribute to their anxiety. For example, they may notice that their anxiety increases around certain people or situations. By being aware of this pattern, clients can learn how to manage these triggers better.
Cognitive restructuring is another skill used in CBT, and it focuses on challenging and modifying unhelpful thought patterns contributing to anxiety. Through this process, clients can recognize irrational or distorted thinking to replace it with more realistic thoughts and beliefs. This can help to reduce stress and increase feelings of security and confidence.
Relaxation techniques are an essential part of CBT as they can help clients reduce their physical symptoms of anxiety. Relaxation techniques include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness, yoga, and visualization. These techniques help people stay in the moment and become aware of their body’s response to stress so that they can make changes to manage it more effectively.
Other treatments for anxiety include stress management techniques like relaxation exercises, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation. These techniques can help reduce physical symptoms such as a racing heart and sweating caused by anxiety. Additionally, they can teach people how to manage their thoughts more effectively to better cope with their condition.
Some people may find relief from holistic therapies like yoga, acupuncture, aromatherapy, or massage. These therapies can provide an outlet for stress and tension and promote feelings of relaxation and general well-being. Holistic therapies may also be combined with traditional treatments for a more comprehensive approach to managing anxiety.
Wellness Road Psychology offers all of the above services to ensure our patients have access to personalized care.
Making healthy lifestyle changes can also reduce the effects of anxiety. Eating a balanced diet, adopting an exercise routine, and getting enough rest is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, avoiding caffeine and nicotine can help reduce anxiety symptoms.
Certain foods and supplements have clinical benefits in managing anxiety. For example, in scientific studies, foods rich in omega-3s, such as salmon or hemp seeds, have provided measurable relief from anxiety symptoms.
Medication may sometimes be combined with other therapies for treating anxiety. Common medications prescribed for anxiety include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), benzodiazepines, tricyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Discussing medication's potential side effects and risks with a doctor before taking them is essential.
Wellness Road Psychology to Manage Anxiety
If you are seeking help managing anxiety, contact Wellness Road Psychology. Our professional staff can provide individualized treatment plans tailored to your needs. We also offer compassionate and supportive care for those suffering from anxiety disorders. So contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our expert providers and start on the path to a healthier life.
People struggling with anxiety must seek help from a qualified professional. With the right treatment plan, individuals can learn how to manage their symptoms and live a whole and happy life.