In this post we will focus on anxiety disorders: Meaning, types, causes and guideline that therapists can use for treatment.
Most of us are familiar with the word “Anxious”. We use it often, whether it’s a friend talking about her upcoming job interview or your sibling talking about his exams. For that matter, even we have experienced this state of anxiousness at some point of time in life.
What is Anxiety?
In today’s world, we all go through daily challenges. Anxiety is a state of nervousness/ restlessness that a person feels when he/she comes across certain life situations.
Some amount of anxiousness is good; however, if anxiety hampers your daily life, it needs attention because this hampering could create more problems like anxiety disorder or other lifestyle diseases.
Anxiety vs Anxiety Disorder
But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiousness feeling does not go away and can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, studies, work, and relationships. Individual feels uncontrollable fear even when there is little or nothing to provoke it.
The medical reasoning for anxiety disorder is that stress hormones, like cortisol and corticotropin-releasing hormone, which help respond to an immediate threat, end up boosting anxiety when stress continues to stay high.
A research article at TIMES OF INDIA show that One of every four Indians affected by anxiety disorders, 10% are depressed and its ratio is keep increasing.
Types of Anxiety
Psychometric tests is administered for different assessment of anxiety disorder.
People with generalized anxiety disorder display excessive anxiety or worry generally all day long with no real reason. They face several anxiety-related symptoms such as:
- Being easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty controlling the worry
- Sleep problems
People of this type usually have health related problems, it can be due to financial and social problems.
Phobias is an excessive unrealistic, or illogical and uncontrollable fear elicited by an object, situation, or activity. Also physical manifestation could be muscular tension, respiratory changes, hyperventilation, vocal cords tighten, cold hand or feet…
Some of common phobias are social phobias, fear of dying, height, animals, water, fear of impending danger closed Spaces, loss of control etc.
Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviours (compulsions). Repetitive behaviours such as hand washing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called “rituals,” however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety.
Specific Phobias, panic disorder and OCD are generally considered as examples of Static Anxiety. With Static anxiety there is a specific stimulus in the external environment, which automatically creates a response of anxiety in a person.
Symptoms of Anxiety:
Anxiety can have Physical, Emotional & Behavioural Symptoms.
Whenever there is threat in the environment, our fight-flight responses are activated. Because of this, our body triggers certain chemicals and we feel certain emotional states. All of this is accompanied by muscular tension, restlessness, fatigue; problems in concentration, to name some.
The other effects of anxiety may include withdrawal from situations that have provoked anxiety in the past. E.g., not willing to go for exams. Changes in sleeping patterns, nervous habits like nail biting and increased motor tension like foot tapping are some of the many other effects.
Symptoms of anxiety can range in number, intensity, and frequency, depending on the person. While almost everyone has experienced anxiety at some point in their lives, most do not develop long-term problems with anxiety. However, a few do.
How Anxiety develops?
There are certain cognitive therapies and many such modalities in Hypnosis that help them realize that the Static Anxiety is often the result of the trigger that external stimulus creates in mind, which leads to the response. So taking the above example of a person getting anxious with the authoritative figure, Here an Authority is an external stimulus that generated Mental trigger (which may be due to his/her past bad experience with an authority figure which may be a teacher or a parent or some else), which then in turn created a response of anxiety every time he/she met or thought of an authority.
The exact cause of GAD is not fully known, but a number of factors like genetics i.e. Some people have a tendency to have an anxious personality, which can run in families, brain chemistry, childhood trauma such as abuse or death of a parent, may make you more prone to anxiety when you become older and environmental stresses appear to contribute to its development. Some people who have other mental health problems such as depression or schizophrenia may also develop GAD. so there is a possibility for two problems to co-exist.
Therapists Niche: Working with Anxiety
The actual steps involved in working with Anxiety would depend upon the intensity of anxiety and specific anxiety disorder that the client is experiencing.
Having said that, for almost all kinds of anxiety related issues, an eclectic approach to therapy is the most recommended way to use.
- The biggest advantage a an eclectic approach is that a therapist can work with both the symptoms and the cause of anxiety.
- Thought restructuring or if-then technique can help clients change the anxiety triggering thoughts. SWISH can help change association with mental images that were triggering anxiety.
- In case of static anxiety: the NLP Fast Phobia cure, hypnotic desensitization and anchoring can help by conditioning mind with a new response (like calmness, humor…) with the stimulus that was originally triggering anxiety.
- Different release process like Circle therapy or inner child work from hypnosis can help release suppressed anxiety. Regression and regression therapy can be used to work with past traumatic experiences that may be responsible for the onset of anxiety disorder.
If you are a psychologist who would like to master the most comprehensive eclectic approach to psychotherapy, you must check out the Cognitive Hypnotic Psychotherapy™ Program. The program is based on systematic and seamless integration of different approaches to psychotherapy (cognitive, behavioural, psycho-dynamic and humanistic).