Anxiety is an emotion that everyone experiences. However, some people experience anxiety more intensely or frequently than others to the point that it disrupts their lives. When anxiety prevents someone from doing the things they want to or need to in their lives, it can be helpful to meet with a therapist.
Therapy can help people understand their anxiety. Some people are born with a predisposition to higher anxiety as anxiety can certainly have a genetic component. Alternatively, some people can experience environmental events that create significant and lasting anxiety. For instance, experiencing a lot of pressure when young and living in a rigid household can create anxiety that can become disruptive to someone. Alternatively, traumatic events can give rise to anxiety. Whether it is “nature or nurture” that is responsible for the bulk of someone’s anxiety, therapy can assist people in understanding their anxiety and ways to work through or cope with it effectively.
Some people become so accustomed to their anxiety over the course of their lives that they overlook how much it is disrupting their lives. It is relatively common for people to think that what they experience with anxiety is what everyone else also experiences. Although true to some extent, some people “live with” high anxiety that therapy can assist with. This is a great article written by Kevin Love, a professional basketball player that highlights this dynamic well. He emphasizes how everyone is going through something and it is okay to get help. Click here to read this great piece!
Types of Anxiety Diagnoses
Like any behavioral health challenge someone faces, sometimes it is helpful to help people understand how the things they experience fit into a diagnostic picture that many others also experience. Diagnosis can actually help validate that people are not alone or “crazy” because many others also have similar experiences. Some of these anxiety diagnoses include:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is one of the most common types of anxiety disorders and involves persistent, excessive worry that someone has great difficulty coping with. People with GAD can worry about specific things or many different types of things. One of the hallmarks of GAD is that although people are trying very much to cope with their worries, the worries become overwhelming and disruptive to their lives. This can include great psychological distress or issues in their social or occupational lives because of the anxiety. GAD can also cause physical symptoms as well such as restlessness, difficulty focusing, irritability, headaches, fatigue and muscle tension.
Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that is marked by episodes (panic attacks) of intense psychological distress or fear as well as physical symptoms including chest pain, heart palpitations, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath or dizziness. The hallmark of panic disorder is the presence of panic attacks. Panic attacks, unlike episodes of high anxiety, are typically extremely intense but last for a relatively short period of time (usually less than 30 minutes).
Panic attacks can be triggered by something specific for some people or the trigger may be unknown or non-existent. Before people are diagnosed with panic disorder, it is common for them to go to the medical emergency room as they or their loved ones believe they might be having a heart attack. Many of the physical and psychological symptoms someone feels during a cardiac event are similar to those of a panic attack. When someone goes to the ER and learns they had a panic attack and not a medical event, it might be relieving but also unsettling. If this happens, Western Kansas Therapy Associates has numerous therapists well versed in helping people feel supported as they work through panic related challenges.
A specific phobia is an intense fear of a certain object or situation. People with this type of anxiety disorder experience extreme terror and panic when exposed to the object or situation. This fear is usually so intense that it interferes with daily living and can be debilitating.
Common phobias include a fear of heights, a fear of public speaking, a fear of closed spaces, and a fear of spiders. There are several different ways people can address phobias with the guidance of a therapist.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety is an anxiety disorder that involves intense fear and avoidance of social situations due to fear of being judged or embarrassed in front of others. People with social anxiety disorder may find themselves avoiding public speaking, eating out, attending parties, meeting new people, or even going on dates because of the fear of being negatively judged by someone else.
Therapy for Anxiety
People who struggle with anxiety often benefit from working with a therapist to increase understanding of the nature of anxiety and how it relates to them. There are also a variety of ways that someone may experience relief from anxiety through working with a therapist.
What to Expect From Therapy For Anxiety
Therapy for anxiety can include many different strategies or approaches. Remember, because anxiety is a nearly universal human experience, for people who have a lot of it, there are many ways that it might be helped. Oftentimes, therapy for anxiety involves helping people identify their sources of anxiety. Sources might be current day triggers or past traumatic experiences. Therapy also often involves people identifying and practicing skills to help manage the anxiety in their daily lives. It might also incorporate processing past experiences if applicable.
Should I Take Medication For Anxiety?
As an adult, you are the only person who can consent to taking medication for something. The same is true for your child if you are their legal guardian. There are instances where someone may be able to work in therapy and address their anxiety so they experience enough relief to achieve what they want (e.g. connect with relationships better, not experience intense worry, more relaxed at work etc.). However, medication can be very helpful in facilitating whatever goals someone may have with their anxiety. Research has demonstrated consistently that therapy and medication combined usually help the most. Further, it can be a wonderful thing when someone works with a medical provider they trust and experience some relief from anxiety that is then reinforced by therapy.
Online vs. In-Person Anxiety Therapy
We offer both online and in-person therapy. Online versus in-person sessions essentially boils down to the comfort of the client doing work online as well as the comfort of the therapist. Some clients and therapists seem to do really well with online therapy and some like in-person therapy better. Some people see online therapy as a major time saver as they might be able to have sessions from their vehicle at work or in their work office. Others believe that meeting face-to-face is more productive and allows for a deeper therapeutic relationship. There is not one right answer.
How to Make the Most of Therapy
The most important thing is to approach therapy with an open mind and a willingness to work. Truthfully, this is often very difficult. Many people come to therapy with beliefs about themselves or aspects of their current/past lives that have never been explored. These beliefs or life experiences can wreak havoc on our lives and therapy often asks us to consider the impact as well as to address it. It is common for people to want to come to therapy and want to attend 4-6 sessions then be “on their way”. However, this is not typical for most people. Our lives are complex and cannot be “fixed” like a mechanic working on a vehicle. At the same time, we are confident that therapy can and does help people identify, understand and work through anxiety they experience. Our therapists have experienced dynamic many times throughout their careers working with people.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of therapy is best for anxiety?
There is no “one size fits all” therapy for anxiety. There are many different types of therapies that might help such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, play therapy, solution focused therapy, interpersonal therapy and more!
How long does anxiety therapy take?
It is impossible to predict how many sessions it might take before therapy is “over”. For some people it might be 6-10 sessions and others 60-100 sessions. It depends on the person and their experiences. Your therapist may be able to visit about this with you and give you an idea of the work that might be involved in helping you feel relief.
What are the causes of anxiety?
Anxiety can be a complex mixture of nature (genetics) and nurture (environment). There are some people who are born with a heavier predisposition to anxiety while others experience things in their lives as kids or adults that cause significant anxiety.