Anxiety is a natural part of being alive. Ideally, we’re learning how to cope with anxiety so that it doesn’t stop us from facing the challenges of life. However, there is some anxiety that goes above and beyond ordinary anxiety. These anxiety and panic attacks can be frightening and overwhelming. You could break into a cold sweat and start shaking. Your heart may start to pound and you may feel like you’re dying. It can feel like your life is out of control. Significantly, these uncontrollable feelings of anxiety are in response to nonthreatening situations.
Anxiety disorders are the most common disorders I see in my practice and they’re very treatable.
Symptoms of a panic disorder
To be officially diagnosed with a panic disorder you must have had at least one attack which is followed by a month of increased anxiety or avoidant behavior due to the fear of having another panic attack. In addition, while having a panic attack, you must have experienced at least four of the following symptoms :
- Pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
- Feeling of choking
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
- Chills or heat sensations
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself
- Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
- Fear of dying
Panic attacks may seem like they last forever, but their duration actually lasts for about ten minutes. It is helpful to remind yourself that it will pass. You may feel shaky afterwards, but the intense anxiety will go away.
Symptoms of an Anxiety disorder
Anxiety tends to be less severe and of a longer duration than panic. Anxiety is often coupled with excessive worry that intensifies over a period of time. The symptoms of anxiety may be:
- restlessness or feeling keyed up
- being easily fatigued
- difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
- muscle tension
- disturbed sleep (difficulty falling or staying asleep)
Symptoms of Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people. Social situations almost always provoke fear and anxiety. There is a fear that you will act in a way that will cause you to be humiliated, embarrassed and rejected. This fear leads to an avoidance of social situations for at least six months. Social anxiety can really limit your life. When you experience social anxiety you can feel incredibly discouraged. You miss out on being able to peacefully enjoy the company of friends.
Treatment of Anxiety
Everyone tries finds methods to cope with their anxiety, but some of those coping strategies are unhealthy. Some damaging coping strategies are having angry outbursts to momentarily relieve stress, using alcohol, drugs, or food to numb yourself out, or isolating yourself by avoiding activities that trigger anxiety. These methods might help briefly but will have long-term negative effects on your life.
Some healthy methods that you can implement include getting some exercise, eating a nutritious diet, reducing your caffeine and alcohol intake, getting appropriate sleep, and developing positive self-talk. Los Angeles offers abundant opportunities to discover helpful relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or hiking.
The above treatment suggestions work well if your anxiety symptoms are mild to moderate. If your symptoms are moderate to severe, you should think about scheduling a free consultation with me so that you can explore the possibility of getting professional help.
Schedule a free 15 minute consultation by 818-245-5298, or by clicking on the contact me page now.
Rena Pollak, LMFT | Calabasas, CA 91302 | Encino, CA 91436 | 818-245-5298