Edmund Bourne, P.H.D., author of The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook reported that “…anxiety disorders are the number one mental health problem among American women, and are second only to alcohol and drug abuse among men. Approximately 15% of the population of the United States, or nearly 40 million people, have suffered from panic attacks, phobias, or other anxiety disorders in the past year.” These statistics were based on a research study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health.
What is the difference between normal and appropriate anxiety, or an anxiety disorder? Normal or appropriate anxiety is common to all of us. It comes in response to everyday threats that involve possible loss or failure—threat of losing a job, failing a test, losing a relationship, or not being able to pay bills. Anxiety disorders differ from normal anxiety because they are more intense (ex. Panic attacks), will last longer (may go on for months instead of ending with a specific situation), or lead to phobias.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Specific Phobias
Generalized Anxiety Disorder consists of chronic moderate anxiety that lasts for at least six months that has no panic attacks, phobias, or obsessions. Symptoms include restlessness, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep difficulties.
Panic Disorder consists of sudden instances of fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within a few minutes and has at least four or more of the following symptoms:
- shortness of breath
- heart racing
- dizziness, unsteadiness, light-headed
- trembling or shaking
- feeling of choking
- nausea or stomach discomfort
- feeling of unreality–”not all there”
- numbness or tingling in hands or feet
- hot/cold flashes
- chest pain
- fear of going crazy or losing control
- fear of dying
Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by a fear of embarrassment or humiliation in social situations where the person is exposed to the scrutiny of others. Examples of situations include attending parties, dating, public speaking, being in small group settings, fear of crowds.
Specific phobias consist of a strong fear and avoidance of one type of object or situation. Examples of common phobias are animal phobias, fear of heights, elevator phobia, fear of flying, claustrophobia (fear of being in closed or small spaces), doctor or dentist phobias, and fear of thunder/lightning.
Anxiety is often experienced simultaneously with symptoms of depression and anger episodes. Anxiety is very treatable! A significant part of treatment involves learning to take control of your anxiety, and not letting it control you. In addition to helping my clients learn specific anxiety reduction techniques, I also focus on the importance of exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating and drinking behavior. Learning how to dramatically reduce your level of anxiety is very possible if you are ready to learn tried and true stress reduction methods in the therapy process.
Anxiety Disorder Counselor
Carl Pearce serves the Richardson, Garland and Plano areas and offer 30 years of anxiety counseling experience.