Let’s Talk About: Anxiety
Everyone has anxiety… right? Not quite. While we all experience anxious in the sense of being nervous, excited, or worried, not everyone experiences it equally. For some people, anxiety becomes an issue when the worrying begins to impact their physical health, their ability to get through the day, or their ability to maintain relationships. It is estimated that nearly 20% of adults have an anxiety disorder and at least 7% of children and adolescents experience anxiety-related issues over the course of a year (NAMI, 2020).
What’s the Difference?
Healthy anxiety is actually very helpful for most of us. It can keep us safe (intuition) or it can drive us to work harder and be better (nervousness). Have you ever felt nervous or worried driving in heavy traffic? You probably experienced some anxiety that helped to keep you alert and on guard until you got through the traffic.
Anxiety changes from helpful to hurtful when we experience repeated patterns of worry that cause us physical and emotional distress. Many people will experience feelings of dread, assuming the absolute worst, or have spiraling thoughts about a particular situation or future event. Many people also experience things like an increased heartbeat, sweating, muscle tension, upset stomach, diarrhea, shortness of breath and more.
Several types of anxiety disorders exist and a few are described below.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)- GAD is often described as persistent, unnecessary worrying. Someone with GAD may worry about things from the past or the future, may struggle to accomplish daily tasks or work, and will often experience fatigue, tension, and more. GAD causes worry to be uncontrollable, so being told to “relax” or “not worry” is often frustrating and unhelpful to those who experience it.
Social Anxiety - Social Anxiety causes extreme distress about social situations and the person may worry about being criticized, judged, or just being observed. These thoughts will impact the person’s ability to be in certain situations and they may avoid them. The anxiety experienced in social anxiety is usually a bit irrational in the face of the real situation.
Panic Disorder- Panic Disorder features frequent panic attacks and causes the person to fear having more panic attacks. Panic attacks vary by person but can include severe physical symptoms, fears of dying, and sometimes feel similar to a heart attack.
Other disorders include specific phobias, agoraphobia, separation anxiety disorder (children), and selective mutism (children).
What Can You Do?
Anxiety is very treatable and has lots of research to back up the different available treatments. Many people find success when they begin anxiety counseling that focuses on alleviating symptoms and helping clients to work with their anxious thoughts.
Georgetown Counseling & Wellness has several clinicians on staff who provide anxiety counseling and would be happy to chat with you about your concerns and needs. Call or e-mail us for a free consultation or to set up an appointment for counseling: 512-400-4247 or firstname.lastname@example.org.