“People tend to dwell more on negative things than on good things. So the mind then becomes obsessed with negative things, with judgments, guilt, and anxiety produced by thoughts about the future and so on.” -Eckhart Tolle
In the US, over 40 million people are affected by an anxiety disorder. Although it is highly-treatable, it’s reported that only about 37% of affected individuals receive treatment. (ADAA).
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Specific Phobias
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
When you consider the various sub-categories listed under “specific phobias”, one can conclude there is a multitude of anxiety types. These subtypes are broadly-defined:
- Agoraphobia– A fear, anxiety, or avoidance of non-specific situations where one may not be able to escape or get help if a panic attack occurs.
- Specific Phobia– A fear, anxiety, or avoidance of specific situations or object (i.e, a fear of flying, a fear of needles, or the fear of spiders qualify as specific phobias).
- Social Anxiety Disorder– A fear, anxiety, or avoidance of social situations. Intense fear in social situations includes the fear of appearing foolish, which can physically by way of blushing, shaking, sweating, etc.
Scientists believe there are a complex variety of factors that cause anxiety disorders, but they can be simplified into two broad categories.
- Genetics– A family history of anxiety disorders is a significant indicator of being predisposed.
- Environment– Traumatic, stressful, or exposure to violence can cause individuals to develop anxiety disorders. (NAMI).
Identifying the sources of anxiety disorders can be complex and confusing, hence why it is especially important to first see your doctor to eliminate the possible physical cause that mimics anxiety disorders.
It is also important to do whatever you can to reduce or eliminate sources that cause you to feel more anxious or nervous. For instance, you can opt to drink decaffeinated coffee instead of regular coffee. Some dietary choices can improve the physical aspects of anxiety. Simple choices are only the beginning of managing anxiety disorders.
Anxiety Disorders Originate In The Recesses Of Our Brains
“According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are two parts of the brain that are key players in the production and processing of anxiety – the amygdala and the hippocampus.” (Neurocore Brain Performance Centers).
Our brains- and our specific human experiences- are complex and vast, but the good news is that only you fully understand yourself! Conversely, others on your mental health “team” (i.e., your family doctor, your nutritionist, your spiritual advisor, therapists, counselors, and other qualified mental health professionals).
The Family Doctor
You may opt to schedule an appointment with your family doctor before or after you’ve had time to reflect and write down information on your anxiety disorder. You may have learned from school or work that you don’t like public speaking or crowds. It will be most beneficial of you to have notes and information to offer your doctor when attending your appointments.
Don’t be discouraged if your family doctor seems to focus on the “externals” more than the “internals”. The doctor may offer you unwanted advice, such as losing weight, getting more exercise, or reducing the amount of caffeine or alcohol you consume. These are important steps in the management of your anxiety, although, they are often not the only steps to pursue.
As I mentioned earlier, each individual has their own unique and complex brain and set of experiences. There isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to anxiety. Medications may work for one person but may be ineffective for another. Many individuals prefer to manage their anxiety through therapy. Therapy types are as varied as the individuals seeking treatment, so be sure to have a solid good understanding of each type.
- Interpersonal therapy
- CBT (Cognitive/Behavioral Therapy)
- Psychodynamic Therapy
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction model (Jon Kabat-Zinn)
- EMDR- Eye Movement Desensitization Resolution (Often for individuals suffering from PTSD).
- Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT)- Developed to understand and improve moods, based on biological and social rhythms. (“Taking Charge”, University of Minnesota).
There are other therapies, which include group therapy, family therapy, and emotion-focused therapy. (Types of Therapy).
Help Yourself (And Others) Treat Your Anxiety Disorders
You may be limited in your choices of family doctors, based on where you live or the type of medical insurance you carry. Additionally, your medical insurance may limit the type of therapy or mental health services you can receive. Be sure to obtain a provider directory and handbook from your insurer to ensure you choose providers your insurance will cover, or you may end up paying more than you can afford for your treatment.
Consider what your own preferences are along with what your insurance will offer. Is your local family doctor in your network? If not, you may have to choose another or decide if it’s worth it to pay out-of-pocket.
In addition to receiving medical care and therapy, be sure to consider your own interests, and how they can be applied to help you manage and treat your anxiety.
“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” -Socrates.
- Are you artistic? Why not try painting when you need to calm down?
- Are you a kinetic person? Do you have lots of energy? Why not try jogging to release some negative energy?
- Are you an emotional or sensitive person? Why not channel your inner-poet and write something expressive?
When you know yourself, you have insight and wisdom about yourself, and thus, can make better decisions on how to treat yourself. You will not be able to treat anxiety effectively- at least, not in most circumstances, without the help of others. For some, that includes doctors and therapists. Many people wish to augment treatment by using their faith and spirituality. The most important thing to realize is that you can get the most out of managing anxiety if A) you understand yourself and B) you allow others to help.