According to recent NIMH statistics, anxiety is the number one mental health problem in women and second only to drug and alcohol abuse in men. 15% of all Americans are estimated to have been significantly impacted by anxiety within the last year, impacting career, family, and social functioning. 25% of Americans or more are expected to experience some form of this disorder within their lifetime.
Anxiety disorders are very difference from simple anxiety or stress. Stress is unavoidable and is generated by lifestyle and culture in general. If your response to daily stressors remains appropriate and reasonable, you do not have a disorder. However, when stress reactions become 1) more intense (like panic attacks), 2) lasts longer (stress and uneasiness lasting for months after a stressful situation has passed), or 3) leads to phobias or avoidance that interfere with how you usually live your life, your stress has become illness.
There are multiple experiences and types of severe anxiety. These include panic disorder, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and posttraumatic stress. Treatment goals for all of these disorders have similar a focus, to reduce your physical body’s reactions and panic, eliminate avoidance behavior, and change the way you think about and expect problems related to your anxiety.
Treatment goals vary from person to person but often include:
» Understanding the nature and causes of anxiety
» Learning and practicing relaxation skills like breathing, imaging, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation
» Learn appropriate exposure strategies to gain control over specific phobias
» Evaluate your sleep, diet, exercise, and lifestyle factors that may be contributing to anxiety
» Identifying and navigating triggering, thoughts, people, and situations
» Recognizing your anxiety producing distortions and learning to replace them with more adaptive coping thoughts
» Improving your assertive communication and expression of feelings
» Learning to be kind, patient and forgiving with yourself
Significant help is available to overcome your anxiety. If you are ready to make a sincere and committed investment to work on your problem, you are already on your way to a calmer, more peaceful way of living.