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Diagnosing Social Anxiety Disorder

woman with social anxiety disorder

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) explains that, “anxiety refers to anticipation of a future concern and is more associated with muscle tension and avoidance behavior.” Anxiety disorders involve excessive feelings of nervousness, anxiousness, fear and anxiety. Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic mental health condition. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), social anxiety disorder “is characterized by persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others.” An individual with SAD will avoid social situations due to a fear of being negatively evaluated (e.g., embarrassed or judged) by other people. Individuals with social anxiety disorder will experience a stronger and more intense sense of anxiety surrounding uncomfortable social situations than that of an individual without SAD.

Signs and Symptoms

Every individual is unique and will have his or her own set of challenges in regards to social anxiety. There are certain common signs and symptoms an individual struggling with SAD could exhibit. These include the following examples, provided by Healthline:

  • Muscle tension
  • Agitation 
  • Excessive worry and or fear
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Shaking
  • Poor eye contact with others
  • Low self-esteem/ low self-worth
  • Sadness
  • Crying
  • Refusing to attend school and or social engagements
  • Anger

In addition to the above, an individual with social anxiety disorder may have frequent self-deprecating thoughts and thoughts of inadequacy. In order to secure the most effective treatment, it is essential to obtain a proper diagnosis from a qualified mental health professional.  

Clinical Diagnostic Process

According to the Mayo Clinic, a social anxiety disorder diagnosis will be determined after conducting a thorough physical exam, a psychiatric evaluation, and will be informed by the diagnostic criteria provided in the DSM-5. It is also common for an evaluating clinician to request an individual to complete self-report questionnaires regarding one’s symptoms of social anxiety, as well as review a list of situations to see if they elicit anxiety. The diagnostic criteria for social anxiety disorder, according to the DSM-5, provided by the Mayo Clinic, include:

  • Persistent, intense fear or anxiety about specific social situations because you believe you may be judged, embarrassed or humiliated
  • Avoidance of anxiety-producing social situations or enduring them with intense fear or anxiety
  • Excessive anxiety that’s out of proportion to the situation
  • Anxiety or distress that interferes with your daily living
  • Fear or anxiety that is not better explained by a medical condition, medication or substance abuse

The exact scientific cause for developing social anxiety disorder remains unknown. Research has shown that it is likely due to a combination of contributing factors such as psychological, environmental, genetic, and developmental factors.  

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

EMDR Therapy In Los Angeles

EMDR written out

Psychologist Francine Shapiro developed Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy in 1987. According to the EMDR Research Foundation, “EMDR is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR therapy includes a set of standardized protocols that incorporate elements from many different treatment approaches.” Though it was initially developed as a means to treat individuals suffering from anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic and/ or trauma, research has indicated that it has since become an effective means of treatment for individuals diagnosed with substance use disorder and other mental health ailments. EMDR incorporates a variety of principals from other therapeutic modalities, including behavioral therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

EMDR Basics

EMDR is based on the notion that physiological symptoms occur as a result of trauma or challenging experiences overwhelming the brain’s natural ability to heal. EMDR works to relieve one’s brain of certain coping mechanisms that have been developed to help an individual cope with a traumatic event or events. EMDR therapy facilitates the healing process through bilateral stimulation where an individual can revisit a previously experienced trauma and learn to re-process and reintegrate it in a way that is both healthy and disarming, alleviating physiological stress. EMDR is an eight-stage therapeutic process, which includes: 

  • Initial history discovery and treatment planning
  • Preparation
  • Assessment
  • Desensitization
  • Installation
  • Body scan
  • Closure
  • Reevaluation 

A typical EMDR session lasts between sixty to ninety minutes long. EMDR can be used on its own or used to supplement other types of therapy.

EMDR Therapy In LA

There are many highly trained EMDR practitioners in Los Angeles, California, which for some can make the search for locating a therapist, seem like an overwhelming feat. There are fantastic online resources that offer curated lists containing qualified EMDR providers, serving the Los Angeles area (e.g. Psychology Today). Often the best recommendations come by word of mouth. An excellent place to start your search is to consult your primary care physician as they should be able to point you in the right direction, and many may even offer recommendations from within their professional network. For some, openly discussing the need for a mental health professional with family and friends may not be comfortable, but for those that are open to broaching the topic with outsiders, asking family and friends for recommendations could be beneficial. It is advantageous to be mindful of the fact that even though EMDR practitioners follow a set of standardized EMDR protocols, each therapist practices with his or her own distinct style. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

What Is High Functioning Anxiety?

woman with high functioning anxiety

The term ‘high functioning anxiety’ is currently used as a broad, umbrella term that includes individuals who live with anxiety but are not debilitated by its symptoms in various aspects of one’s life. The medical definition of anxiety provided in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.” However, according to the Mayo Clinic, having occasional feelings of anxiety is a normal part of life. In relation to the adverse effects of high functioning anxiety, Health Magazine explains that even if one’s anxiety symptoms are not interfering with one’s productivity at work or in one’s relationship status, they can still be problematic if they take away from one’s overall quality of life. High functioning anxiety is not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a mental health diagnosis. 

Signs and Symptoms

It is highly common for an individual with high functioning anxiety to exude unwavering confidence and appear to be leading an anxiety-free life. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates 40 million adults, approximately 18% of the population, deal with an anxiety disorder at any given time, including those that fall into the category of high functioning. An individual who is suffering from high functioning anxiety could exhibit any combination of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Stress-free
  • Insomnia
  • Productive
  • Outgoing 
  • Dizziness
  • Exhaustion
  • Appearance of being level-headed
  • Organized
  • Perfectionist
  • Successful relationships
  • Muscle weakness
  • Irregular body temperature
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Type-A personality
  • Detail-oriented
  • Social 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Gastrointestinal complications

While silently suffering, individuals with high functioning anxiety often hide behind a façade of effortless success and are typically viewed as overachievers. Psychology Today asserts “anxiety is built into our primate origins as a warning system,” and that there are several benefits to experiencing occasional anxiety. Anxiety can help an individual avoid danger as its presence elicits a heightened state of alertness which in turn can help to detect and attend to potential threats. Anxiety can help an individual further develop his or her empathy. Situational anxiety can contribute to enhancing one’s motivation and increasing performance levels. While there may be benefits to anxiety, experiencing persistent anxiety is not healthy. It is important to note that individuals with high functioning anxiety often appear perfectly healthy to others, but are likely internally suffering from many of the same symptoms that accompany a diagnosable anxiety disorder. Fortunately, there is professional help available for individuals who are dealing with any form of anxiety, including high functioning forms. 

 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Social Anxiety Treatment Options In Los Angeles

girl with social anxiety disorder

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. Anxiety disorders, however, involve excessive feelings of nervousness, anxiousness, fear and anxiety. Anxiety disorders are highly common. There are currently five different types of anxiety disorders. They include the following: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia). Social anxiety disorder (SAD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic mental health condition. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) explains that social anxiety disorder is “characterized by persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others.” An individual with social anxiety disorder will experience a stronger and more intense sense of anxiety surrounding uncomfortable social situations than someone without SAD. However, with proper treatment, an individual can learn to effectively manage the symptoms of his or her social anxiety disorder. 

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms that can manifest with social anxiety disorder can be debilitating and interfere with one’s ability to function optimally in his or her daily life. Every individual is unique and will have his or her own set of challenges with regards to social anxiety. Common examples of signs and symptoms that an individual with SAD may exhibit could include any combination of the following, provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Excessive worry and/ or fear
  • Muscle tension
  • Blushing 
  • Sadness
  • Crying
  • Nausea 
  • Agitation 
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Shaking
  • Poor eye contact with others
  • Low self-esteem/ low self-worth
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

In addition to the above, people with social anxiety disorder may have frequent self-deprecating thoughts and/ or constant thoughts of inadequacy. It is important to note that social anxiety disorder symptoms can change over time. 

Treatment In LA

In order to obtain the most effective treatment, it is imperative for an individual to be thoroughly evaluated and obtain an accurate diagnosis from a qualified mental health professional. There are many treatment options available in Los Angeles, California for an individual diagnosed with SAD. Every person is different and will require a customized treatment plan, as each will respond distinctly to various treatment options.

There are a number of factors that go into creating a treatment plan for an individual with social anxiety disorder. It is not uncommon for medication to be incorporated into one’s treatment plan in conjunction with psychotherapy. There are several different types of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) that are often prescribed for individuals with SAD. Some of the common SSRIs that are often prescribed for social anxiety disorder include Lexapro (escitalopram oxalate), Zoloft (sertraline), and Prozac (fluoxetine). Some the therapeutic modalities that are regularly utilized by mental health clinicians in Southern California, during treatment for social anxiety disorder, include talk therapy, expressive arts therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and/ or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). In most cases integrating a combination of both psychotherapy and medication into one’s treatment plan yields the most successful long-term results.

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

What Are The Causes Of ADHD?

Child with ADHD with mom at treatment

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), previously referred to as attention deficit disorder (ADD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) and is characterized as “a persistent pattern of inattention and/ or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.” The American Academy of Pediatrics further asserts, “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobiological condition whose symptoms are also dependent on the child’s environment.” Although ADHD is one of the most studied conditions in America, the precise cause for developing ADHD remains unknown. Research has, however indicated that genetic factors, environmental factors and developmental delays may all contribute to its potential development.

DSM-5 ADHD Diagnostic Criteria

The diagnosis process for ADHD is rather complicated, as there is no single test for diagnosis, and symptoms will vary from person to person. The CDC outlines the following diagnostic criteria:

  • Inattention: Six or more symptoms of inattention for children up to age 16 years, or five or more for adolescents age 17 years and older and adults; symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6 months, and they are inappropriate for developmental level:
    • Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities.
    • Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
    • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
    • Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).
    • Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
    • Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
    • Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
    • Is often easily distracted
    • Is often forgetful in daily activities.
  • Hyperactivity and Impulsivity: Six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity for children up to age 16 years, or five or more for adolescents age 17 years and older and adults; symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for the person’s developmental level:
    • Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
    • Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
    • Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless).
    • Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
    • Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.
    • Often talks excessively.
    • Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
    • Often has trouble waiting their turn.
    • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

In order to obtain the most effective treatment it is essential for an individual to be thoroughly evaluated by a qualified mental health professional and accurately diagnosed. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

What Is EMDR?

EMDR in writing

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) is a type of therapy that was developed to help treat individuals who suffered from traumatic events. American psychologist, Francine Shapiro developed Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy in 1987. According to the EMDR Research Foundation, “EMDR is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR therapy includes a set of standardized protocols that incorporate elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR has helped millions of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress.” EMDR is an eight-stage therapeutic process that can be used independently, or as a means to supplement other psychotherapeutic treatment methods. EMDR incorporates a variety of principals from other therapeutic modalities, including behavioral therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). EMDR is based on the notion that physiological symptoms occur as a result of trauma or challenging experiences overwhelming the brain’s natural ability to heal. 

Who Can It Help?

Although EMDR was originally developed to treat people recover from isolated or repeated exposures to trauma, it has since proven an effective method of treatment for a variety other mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, substance use disorder, panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more. Instead of spending time revisiting the memory of past trauma, a core component of other psychotherapeutic modalities, EMDR emphasizes shifting the emotions, behaviors, and/ or thoughts surrounding the trauma to enable the brain to heal itself. EMDR therapy often requires fewer sessions than other psychotherapies. 

How Does It Work?

EMDR works to relieve one’s brain of certain coping mechanisms that have been developed to help an individual cope with a traumatic event or events. When an individual experiences a traumatic event, it is not uncommon for the memory of this event to get stuck in the right hemisphere of one’s brain. The left side of one’s brain will then self soothe and implement other coping mechanisms to help deal with this memory. The simple explanation for how EMDR works is that it does not allow one’s brain to perseverate on the negative experience. Instead it enables one’s brain to process the negative experience (and implement a positive self-belief) through both hemispheres of one’s brain, by utilizing the bilateral eye movement method. EMDR is comprised of the following eight stages:

  • Initial history discovery and treatment planning
  • Preparation
  • Assessment
  • Desensitization
  • Installation
  • Body scan
  • Closure
  • Reevaluation 

While in the presence of a mental health professional and in a safe and controlled environment, EMDR therapy facilitates the healing process through bilateral stimulation where the individual can revisit the experienced trauma and learn to re-process and reintegrate it in a way that is both healthy and disarming, alleviating physiological stress. A typical EMDR session lasts between sixty to ninety minutes long.

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Symptoms Of An Anxiety Attack

woman with anxiety

Often the terms panic attack and anxiety attack are erroneously used interchangeably. While they have many similarities, they are two distinct conditions. Anxiety can be a symptom of panic, but experiencing anxiety is different from a panic attack. Unlike panic attacks, anxiety attacks are not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Medical News Today identifies specific features of anxiety attacks that distinguish them from panic attacks, including: 

  • Anxiety attacks are not a diagnosable condition
  • Anxiety attacks can have a specific trigger 
  • Anxiety attacks are less severe than panic attacks
  • Anxiety attacks can develop gradually when a person feels anxious 
  • Anxiety attacks typically involve physical symptoms

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations, and anxiety attacks are generally precipitated by the anticipation of a stressful experience, situation or event. Experiencing bouts of anxiety is to be expected. However, experiencing random and/ or frequent anxiety attacks may suggest the presence of diagnosable mental health condition. Anxiety disorders, for example, involve excessive feelings of nervousness, anxiousness, fear and anxiety. According to the American Psychiatric Association there are several different types of anxiety disorders, some of which include: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia). While each type of anxiety disorder comes with its own distinct characteristics, they all share the common symptom of anxiety attacks. The exact cause for developing an anxiety disorder remains unknown. Research suggests that it is likely due to a combination of contributing factors such as psychological, environmental, genetic, and developmental factors.

Signs and Symptoms

The lack of diagnostic recognition of anxiety attacks contributes to the vague and wide-ranging signs and symptoms that are often associated with anxiety attacks. Every individual is different and could exhibit a unique combination of symptoms when it comes to anxiety attacks. Medical News Today provides examples of common signs and symptoms that could present with an anxiety attack, some of which include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Dizziness, lightheaded, unsteady, faint
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry mouth
  • Chest pain
  • Being easily startled
  • Hot flashes
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Irritability
  • Numbness and/ or tingling sensations
  • Loss of concentration
  • Sleep disturbances
  • A rapid heart rate
  • Restlessness 
  • Chills 
  • Feeling of choking
  • Worry and/ or distress 
  • Trembling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Excessive sweating

The symptoms of an anxiety attack can range in severity and duration. Usually, acute anxiety attacks are short-lived, but for some, the intense symptoms can leave an individual experiencing residual effects of anxiety long (e.g. days, weeks, or even months) after an anxiety attack has ended. It is important to note that not all individuals that experience anxiety attacks unequivocally go on to develop an anxiety disorder. Due to the fact that anxiety disorders are highly common, it may be advantageous for an individual that experiences frequent and/ or severe anxiety attacks to consult a mental health professional. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

Do I have Anxiety? Here’s How to Tell

Helpguide International explains that “anxiety is a normal reaction to danger, the body’s automatic fight-or-flight response that is triggered when you feel threatened, under pressure, or are facing a challenging situation, such as a job interview, exam, or first date.” Basically, anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. Anxiety is often unavoidable, as every individual will experience stress at some point in his or her life. Further, although its symptoms are often unpleasant, experiencing anxiety is not necessarily a bad thing as it can help an individual remain alert and focused. However, there is a big difference between experiencing anxiety and having an anxiety disorder. According to the American Psychiatric Association there are several different types of anxiety disorders, some of which include: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia). Anxiety disorders can be debilitating, and interfere with one’s ability to function optimally in one’s everyday life.  

Signs and Symptoms

In order to gauge whether or not you are experiencing anxiety it is helpful to be aware of common signs and symptoms. The Mayo Clinic provides examples, some of which include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry mouth
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Chest pain
  • Hyperventilation (breathing rapidly)
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Irritability
  • Feeling nervous, restless and/ or tense
  • Loss of concentration
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Sweating 
  • Trembling
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems

Symptoms can range in severity and duration. It is important to note that while anxiety disorders are highly common, not every individual that experiences anxiety will inevitably go on to develop and anxiety disorder. The exact cause for developing an anxiety disorder remains unknown. Research suggests that it is likely due to a combination of contributing factors such as psychological, environmental, genetic, and developmental factors.

Do I Have An Anxiety Disorder?

Consider the following questions, and if you identify with any of them it could be indicative of an anxiety disorder, and it may be advantageous to seek professional guidance: 

  1. Does your anxiety interfere with your daily life (e.g. school, work, family responsibilities, etc.)?
  2. Are you constantly tense, worried, or on edge?
  3. Do you believe that something bad will happen if certain things are not done a certain way?
  4. Do you experience unshakable, irrational fears? 
  5. Do you feel like danger and/ or catastrophe is lingering around every corner?
  6. Do you experience sudden, unexpected anxiety attacks?
  7. Do you avoid everyday situations and/ or activities because they cause you anxiety?

In order to obtain the most effective treatment, it is crucial to be thoroughly evaluated and diagnosed by a qualified mental health professional. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

What Is Art Therapy?

woman doing art therapy

British artist, Adrian Hill, coined the term ‘art therapy’ in 1942 after discovering the healthful benefits of drawing and painting while recovering from tuberculosis. Art therapy is currently recognized as an alternative form of psychotherapy that incorporates creative methods of expression by way of visual arts media. The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as “an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.” In short, art therapy acts as another means of communication. Unlike many traditional psychotherapeutic modalities, art therapy encourages participants to explore self-expression, emotions, and challenges through various art media rather than relying on one’s ability to accurately articulate verbally. Art therapy has been woven into treatment practices across the country and is often used in prisons, nursery schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and more. Art therapy allows individuals to process emotions and explore solutions to whatever they are experiencing through artistic expression. 

Uses

Nowadays, art therapy is utilized in many areas of society, and depending on one’s needs, is considered a viable method of treatment for individuals ranging in age from toddlers to geriatrics. Art therapy may be used as a form of treatment for individuals with any of the following conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Emotional difficulties
  • Ageing-related issues
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance use disorder
  • Family and/ or relationship problems
  • Depression
  • Cancer 
  • Psychological issues

Art therapists are trained mental health clinicians that are educated in human development, clinical practice, psychological theories, and fine art. Art therapy sessions can be conducted in an individual or group setting. Art therapy can be used on its own or in conjunction with other therapeutic treatment modalities.

Benefits

The mere fact that art therapy is a technique rooted in the notion that creative expression can foster healing and mental well being directly correlates with its efficacy. The benefits of art therapy are extensive. Some examples of the benefits of art therapy include, but are not limited to the following, as provided by the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association:

  • Promotes self-reliance, personal independence, and self-sufficiency
  • Enables an individual to verbally and nonverbally communicate emotions that may otherwise be abandoned 
  • Facilitates illuminating positive perspectives on one’s life
  • Encourages the development of health coping strategies
  • Promotes self-expression and self-discovery
  • Acts as an emotional release
  • Provides stress relief
  • Improves self-esteem
  • Increases resilience 

Many individuals can be shy, or uncomfortable with their ability to properly articulate their emotions. Art therapy can serve as a language for those who need another way to identify, express, process and/ or work though challenges, thoughts, and emotions.   

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

How To Deal With Anxiety

anxiety word cloud

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. Anxiety will manifest differently in different people. The feelings of anxiety can range from mild (e.g. fluttering in one’s stomach) to severe (e.g. racing heart). Some individuals, however, will experience severe, debilitating anxiety and this could be indicative of the presence of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders involve excessive feelings of nervousness, anxiousness, fear and anxiety. According to the American Psychiatric Association there are several different types of anxiety disorders, some of which include: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia). It is important to note that while all people will experience stints of anxiety every now and then, not every person that experiences anxiety will go on to develop an anxiety disorder. 

Signs and Symptoms

In order to effectively deal with anxiety it is helpful to be aware of how it can manifest. When an individual experiences a sudden and intense episode of fear and anxiety it is known as an anxiety attack. Medical News Today provides the following examples of signs and symptoms that can be the result of anxiety, many of which are commonly associated with anxiety attacks:

  • Loss of concentration
  • A rapid heart rate
  • Restlessness 
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry mouth
  • Chest pain
  • Being easily startled
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fear 
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Irritability
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Feeling of choking
  • Worry and/ or distress

Anxiety attacks can range in severity and duration. Each person is unique and as such different triggers can initiate the onset of anxiety and/ or anxiety attacks in different people. Typically, the symptoms of anxiety attacks come on suddenly, and the intense symptoms can leave a person with residual effects of anxiety long after (e.g. hours, weeks, or even months) an anxiety attack has subsided. 

Helpful Tips

It is helpful to arm oneself with a variety of coping strategies to navigate anxiety when it arises. In order to better deal with anxiety consider the following tips:

  1. Explore relaxation methods: try out different relaxation tactics (e.g. meditation, journaling, listening to music, etc.)
  2. Exercise: regular exercise can not only help you remain physically fit, but also provides a natural release of endorphins, elevating your mood
  3. Get creative: engaging in creativity can be an excellent emotional outlet; consider taking a painting class, try out ceramics, take a cooking class
  4. Breathe: focus on slowing down your breath to help pull your focus away from your symptoms and onto your breath.
  5. Acknowledge your feelings: although it may seem that your anxiety will last forever, it won’t; by acknowledging and naming your feelings you can help diffuse your angst.
  6. Focus on external stimuli: look around you and notice tangible items in your surroundings; this can be both grounding and helpful in gaining perspective over your anxiety

If you are experiencing frequent and/ or severe bouts of anxiety it is best to err on the side of caution and obtain an evaluation from a qualified mental health professional. At the vary least, they will be able to provide you with more pointed guidance regarding how to most effectively deal with your anxiety. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.