It’s common for people to feel anxious in response to stressful situations. But if anxiety becomes a persistent, severe problem you have a hard time controlling and it affects your day-to-day life, you may have an anxiety disorder.
About 19% of adults in any given year in the U.S. have an anxiety disorder. It has been estimated that 31% of U.S. citizens have an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.
At Renewed Light in West Deptford, New Jersey, we offer help with anxiety disorder at our outpatient center where we provide evidence-based treatments, which often includes a combination of psychotherapy and medication in a relaxed, supportive environment.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of dread, fear, and uneasiness. It might make you:
- Feel restless and tense
- have a rapid heartbeat
This can be a normal response to stress. You might feel anxious when dealing with a difficult situation at work, before taking a test, or before making any important decision. In some cases, anxiety can actually help you cope. It may give you a burst of energy or help you focus. But for people with anxiety disorders, the fear can be overpowering because it isn’t just a temporary feeling.Contact Us
What are anxiety disorders?
If you have anxiety that doesn’t go away over time and gets worse, that’s an anxiety disorder. The symptoms of an anxiety disorder can interfere with your daily activities such as work and school performance and relationships.
What causes anxiety disorders?
The exact cause of anxiety is not known. But several factors play a role. They include:
- Brain biology
Types of anxiety disorders
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
If you’re suffering from GAD, you worry excessively about ordinary issues such as health, work, money, and family, and you have these worries almost every day for at least six months.
People with GAD may:
- Feel restless and have trouble relaxing
- Have difficulty concentrating
- Are easily startled
- Have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Feel tired all the time or tire easily
You may also experience:
- Muscle aches, headaches, stomach aches or other unexplained pains
- Difficulty swallowing
- Twitch or tremble
- Irritability or feeling on edge
- Feelings of lightheadedness, sweating, being out of breath
- Going to the bathroom frequently
The risk for GAD can run in families.
People with panic disorders have panic attacks. These are sudden, repeated intervals of intense fear when there isn’t any danger. Panic attacks come on quickly and can last for several minutes or longer. You might feel like you’re losing control. There might also be physical symptoms such as:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Stomach or chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Dizziness or weakness
- Feeling overheated or a cold chill
- Numb or tingly hands
Panic attacks can happen anywhere, anytime and without any warning. Some people live in fear of another attack and avoid places where they’ve had an attack. For some, the fear takes over so much they can’t leave home.
This anxiety disorder is more common in women than men. Usually, it begins when people are young adults. It sometimes starts when a person is under a lot of stress. Most people that suffer from panic attacks do improve when they get help with anxiety disorder.
People with phobias have intense fears of things that offer little or no real danger. The fear may be about flying, crowded places, spiders, or social situations (known as social anxiety).
There are specific phobias such as:
- Acrophobia–fear of heights
- Agoraphobia–fear of public places
- Claustrophobia–fear of closed-in places
- Gephyrophobia–fear of tunnels and bridges
- Aquaphobia–the fear of water
- Aerophobia–fear of flying
- Hemophobia–fear of blood
People with phobias often try to avoid whatever they’re afraid of. It that’s not possible, they may experience:
- Fear and panic
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- A strong eagerness to get away
Typically, phobias start in children or teens and continue into adulthood. The origination of specific phobias is not known, but sometimes they run in families.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
With social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, simple, everyday interactions with others cause serious anxiety, self-consciousness, and embarrassment because of the fear of being judged negatively by others.
SAD can be a chronic mental health condition but learning coping skills in therapy and taking medications can help improve the ability to interact with others.
Who is at risk of anxiety disorders?
Risk factors for the different types of anxiety disorders can vary. For example, GAD and phobias are more common in women, but social anxiety affects men and women equally. Here are some general risk factors for all types of anxiety disorders:
- Having certain personality traits, such as being shy or withdrawn when meeting new people or in new situations
- Suffering traumatic events in adulthood or early childhood
- Having a family history of anxiety or other mental disorders
- Having certain health conditions such as thyroid problems or arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
Diagnosing anxiety disorders
The first step to get help with anxiety disorder is to receive a diagnosis. Your doctor will perform a physical exam and will ask about your symptoms. They may also recommend a blood test. All this is to help determine if another condition such as hypothyroidism could be causing your symptoms. Your doctor may also ask about any medications you’ve been taking. Some medications can cause symptoms of anxiety. These include:
- Levodopa–used to manage Parkinson’s disease
- Cyclosporine–treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis
Anxiety may also follow certain medical conditions such as:
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Sleep apnea
If no underlying causes of the symptoms are found, a psychological evaluation is performed. Your doctor may be able to do this or you may go to a psychologist or see us here at Renewed Light, an outpatient anxiety disorder treatment center.
Psychological evaluation for anxiety disorder
During a psychological evaluation, a specialist will ask:
- If you have a family history of anxiety disorders or depression
- When your symptoms started
- How severe your symptoms are
- Whether they have happened before, and if yes, how they were treated
- How the symptoms are affecting your life
Because other psychological conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and eating disorders may occur with anxiety disorders, your specialist will also ask questions to help determine whether another mental condition could be affecting you. After your symptoms and family history are evaluated, you and the specialist will discuss your diagnosis and the most appropriate treatment options.
Treatments for anxiety disorders
The main treatments for anxiety disorders are psychotherapy (also called talk therapy), medication, or both. Complementary approaches like psychological treatments, such as meditation, and physical treatments, have also been shown to help with anxiety disorders. At Renewed Light we take a whole-person approach to treating your mental well-being, offering individual and group therapy as holistic therapies you can practice for a lifetime to help alleviate anxiety and stress in your life.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
CBT is a type of psychotherapy that is used frequently to treat anxiety disorders. This approach teaches you different ways of thinking and behaving. It helps you change how you respond to the things that cause you to feel anxious and fearful. Often, it includes exposure therapy where you confront your fears so that you will eventually be able to do the things you were avoiding.
The medicines used to treat anxiety disorders include anti-anxiety medications and some antidepressants. Some types may work better for specific types of anxiety disorders. You will need to work closely with your health care provider to find which medication is best for you. Occasionally, a person will need to try more than one medication before finding the right one.
Currently, researchers are exploring ways in which complementary and unifying approaches might reduce anxiety or help people cope with it. Some of the studies have focused on the anxiety people experience in day-to-day life or during stressful circumstances while others have pinpointed anxiety disorders.
Psychological and physical therapies for anxiety disorder
We introduce you to practices such as meditation, hypnosis, relaxation and music therapy to help minimize anxiety. These therapies also teach you new skills you can practice in your everyday life that empower you to manage anxiety better on your own.
Physical therapies such as acupuncture, massage and spinal manipulation are additional treatments we encourage patients to explore for help with anxiety disorder. Yoga, tai chi, reiki, dance therapy, art therapy, and mindful eating are all ways to slow down the mind and alleviate stress, bringing forth presence and ease.
Get help with anxiety disorder in New Jersey
If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you’re not alone. More than 50 percent of Americans will get diagnosed with a behavioral health disorder during their lifetime. Fortunately, Renewed Light offers a range of therapy options and programs that can help you take back your life. Located in West Deptford, New Jersey, we serve all of New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.Contact Us