Anxiety Treatment

Anxiety is a normal, healthy feeling that most people experience.  A natural response to perceived threat, anxiety in moderation helps us stay alert and focused.  It warns us when we need to take action and activates fight or flight responses that are necessary to respond to physical danger.  Anxiety triggers many changes that allow us to respond quickly to dangerous circumstances; ideally when the threat has passed, the anxiety dissipates and we return to normal.

Our stressors today, however, usually do not require physical responses. Many situations are long term and have no clear, immediate resolution.  This ongoing stress can produce anxiety with no place to go.  Too much anxiety is uncomfortable and creates physical symptoms, avoidance of triggers, or immobilization. Because uncertainty produces anxiety and there is much uncertainty in our lives today, anxiety is increasingly common.

Sometimes, you might experience persistent, seemingly uncontrollable, and overwhelming anxiety for no apparent reason.  Your feelings may unexpectedly spiral out of control or you may keep yourself so locked down that you don’t feel much of anything. There may be excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations.  “What if?” thoughts may play constantly in your mind. If anxiety is disabling or interfering with your activities or quality of life, you may have an anxiety disorder. Luckily, anxiety treatment can help.

Anxiety Treatment Can Bring You Relief

Anxiety affects 40 million adults in the United States over the age of 18 and is one the most common psychiatric disorders (18% of the US population). Less than one third of those affected receive treatment even though anxiety disorders are highly treatable.  People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor than other people.  Also, if you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, you might also suffer from depression or vice versa. Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Thankfully, anxiety treatment is very effective.  Although you can’t prevent yourself from feeling anxious, you can learn to manage it constructively.  Psychotherapy will help you become aware of your reactions.  Although you may feel you should be able to overcome anxiety on your own, it can be quite difficult.  Many of the seemingly obvious solutions don’t work or make the situation worse.  For example, if you often search the internet for medical information (cyberchondria) you probably are trying to feel better by gathering data and banishing uncertainty.  However if, as is frequently the case, there are no clear answers to your concerns, you may feel more anxious then you did before you started searching.

Anxiety Takes Many Different Shapes

Anxiety is a group of related conditions rather than a single disorder and can look different from person to person. Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events. Anxiety can also appear in different ways at different times in your life.

Below are common categories of anxiety disorders.  I have experience in treating all of them. Cognitive behavioral psychotherapy, biofeedback and relaxation training, and mindfulness and ACT are very effective forms of anxiety treatment.  In sessions, we will create an individualized treatment plan  drawing on a combination of my experience, your wisdom, and your goals.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about a variety of everyday problems. You may experience exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is no apparent reason for concern; constantly expect the worst case scenario; and worry excessively about money, health, family, work, or other ordinary issues. GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, in any given year. The disorder comes on gradually and can emerge at any time but most commonly begins between childhood and middle age. Although the exact cause of GAD is unknown, it appears that biological factors, family background, and life experiences, particularly stressful ones, play a role.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder occurs in people who experience spontaneous attacks of intense anxiety for no apparent reason.  About six million American adults experience panic disorder in a given year.  Although panic attacks typically begin in early adulthood, they can start at almost any time. You may have a panic attack unexpectedly, even during low stress times or sleep.  Because panic manifests with many physical symptoms, such as racing heart, numbness in the hands or feet, and shortness of breath, you might think you are having a medical emergency or going crazy and end up in a hospital emergency room.  If you suffer from physical panic symptoms, it can take months or years to receive a correct diagnosis.  Many people don’t know that their disorder is highly responsive to treatment and suffer needlessly for many years. But, there is hope. Anxiety treatment can help you identify and control your symptoms.

Social Anxiety Disorder   

About 15 million Americans suffer from social anxiety; 36 per cent of these people report symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help.   The fear of being scrutinized and judged by others frequently begins in childhood or adolescence.  Although somewhat similar to shyness, social anxiety leads to more severe suffering. Even though you may recognize that your  fear of social situations is unreasonable, you may have been unable to overcome it. Your symptoms can be so extreme that they disrupt your daily life, and your social life, romantic relationships, and occupational performance suffer.  Fear of criticism, humiliation, and negative assessment by self and others often leads to loss of confidence and social withdrawal. You might also develop substance abuse issues because you are looking for a way to ease your anxiety. But, there is another way. With anxiety treatment you can learn healthy ways of coping with social anxiety.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

If you are struggling with OCD, you may have obsessions, which are persistent and intrusive thoughts, images or impulses which create anxiety.  Compulsions are behaviors and routines done in an attempt to reduce this anxiety.  Although you may realize your worries are unrealistic and your behaviors are irrational, you may find them difficult to stop.  A common obsession involves excessive worry about dirt, germs, and contamination.  The resulting compulsion typically involves repeated, complicated handwashing routines, ritualized, lengthy showers, or avoidance of people or places which could be contaminated.  You might also worry that something bad will happen because you forgot something important. Maybe you repeatedly checking the door, stove, iron, etc. to prevent disaster. You may need to perform the compulsion until “it feels right,” which can take longer over time.  You might spend hours in complicated rituals to ward off anxiety arousing thoughts.  Any relief is likely to be short lived and will disappear with the next disturbing thought.  OCD often occurs with depression. Although many people who have OCD are aware that their obsessions and compulsions are irrational, they feel powerless to stop them. But, anxiety treatment can help you understand and manage symptoms of OCD.


A phobia is a strong, irrational fear that has become linked to a common place, situation, or object, perhaps where a panic attack has occurred. To prevent another attack, you may avoid anything that might trigger panic.  Phobias can arise in circumstances which previously caused no anxiety.  Increased stress, change in life circumstances, and hormonal changes can trigger panic.  You may fear being trapped and not being able to get away, especially in an airplane, theater, or  traffic.  Other phobias may involve insects (bees or spiders), animals (usually dogs or large carnivores such as bears, places (bridges or the dentist) or other things such as blood or thunderstorms.