Treating Anxiety Disorders With Psychotherapy
Dr. Randi Fredricks, Ph.D.
Every one of us feels anxious and under extra stress from time to time, and a certain level of anxiety is considered a normal part of life. Different situations such as a new job, change in career plans, an exam, or meeting unexpected deadlines can create anxious feelings.
This form of milder anxiety may actually help make us to be more alert and stay focused when we need to, especially during challenging situations. When we feel this normal day to day kind of anxiousness, it usually doesn’t require any official anxiety treatment.
On the other hand, when anxiety becomes so looming that a person can no longer handle it by themselves, they sometimes develop an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are a type of psychiatric condition that can cause severe distress and cause extreme disruption in the lives of the people who suffer from them.
The frequency and intensity of anxiety involved in these disorders is often so debilitating that the individual cannot function. Fortunately, with proper and effective anxiety treatment from a qualified psychotherapist, people suffering from anxiety disorders can lead normal lives.
The Different Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are several major types of anxiety disorders, and each has its own characteristics. The following explains some of the differences and the feelings and thoughts associated with each.
- People with generalized anxiety disorder, sometimes called “GAD” for short, have recurring fears or worries, such as about health or finances, and often have a persistent sense that something bad is just about to happen. In some cases, the reason for the intense feelings of anxiety can be difficult to identify. None the less, the fears and worries are very real and often keep individuals from concentrating on daily tasks.
- Panic disorder involves sudden, intense, and seemingly unprovoked feelings of terror and dread. People who suffer from panic disorder typically develop strong fears about when and where their next panic attack will occur. Because of this, they tend to restrict their activities as a result.
- Another type of anxiety disorder involves phobias, or intense fears, about specific objects or situations. The phobia may involve things such as encountering certain animals or flying in airplanes, whereas social phobias involve fear of social settings and/or public places.
- Social anxiety, also called social phobia, is characterized by intense fear in social situations and/or avoidance of social interactions. People who suffer with social phobia generally feel lonely and isolated, and are sometimes afraid to leave their homes.
- Performance anxiety, also called stage fright, is the fear of performing in public.
Separation anxiety is the fear of being abandoned or being separated from a loved one.]
- Castration anxiety is a fear of being emasculated and can effect a man’s ability to have intimate relationships.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by persistent, uncontrollable, and unwanted feelings and/or thoughts (obsessions) and routines or rituals in which a person tries to prevent or get rid of these thoughts (compulsions). Examples of common compulsions include checking over a completed task repeatedly for errors, washing hands over and over again, or cleaning house excessively for fear of germs.
Treatment for an anxiety disorder can easily be initiated by a licensed psychotherapist. Two common forms of psychotherapy utilized for treatment of anxiety disorders are behavioral and cognitive therapy: in cognitive therapy, the therapist helps the patient to adapt his or her problematic thought patterns into those which are healthier. For example, the therapist might help someone with panic disorder to prevent panic attacks and make those that do occur less intense by teaching him or her how to mentally re-approach anxiety-inducing situations.
About the Author
Randi Fredricks, Ph.D. is a practicing therapist, researcher and author specializing in the treatment of anxiety, depression, addiction, eating disorders, and related disorders. Dr. Fredricks is a best-selling author of several books including Healing & Wholeness: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Mental Health a 650-page compendium and landmark publication that provides a comprehensive overview of complementary and alternative treatments for mental health, with information and research on their effectiveness for treating specific disorders. For more information on Dr. Fredricks work, visit her practice website www.DrRandiFredricks.com.