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Anxiety

Can DBT Help With Anxiety?

anxiety-help

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. Anxiety will manifest differently in different people. The feelings of anxiety can range from mild to severe. While fleeting anxiety is unavoidable, it is not healthy for an individual to experience persistent and debilitating symptoms of anxiety. An individual may be struggling with an anxiety disorder when pervasive anxiety interferes with his or her ability to function in daily life. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) asserts: “Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions, each having unique symptoms. However, all anxiety disorders have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.” There are currently five distinct types of anxiety disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). They include the following: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder (social phobia). According to the American Psychiatric Association, close to thirty percent of adults in America struggle with an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy treatment that was originally developed by Marsha M. Linehan, in the late 1980s to more effectively treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Since its inception, dialectical behavior therapy has been and remains the gold standard method of treatment for individuals diagnosed with BPD, and its efficacy has also expanded to other ailments. DBT is based on the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach that relies on talk therapy and emphasizes the psychosocial aspects of treatment. It utilizes a multifaceted approach that consists of weekly individual psychotherapy sessions, weekly DBT skills training group therapy sessions, and as-needed phone coaching between sessions. DBT strives to help individuals learn to identify triggers outside of themselves and pair those triggers with healthy responses and coping mechanisms. This is accomplished through focusing on and cultivating therapeutic skills in four main areas, known as the four modules, which are: 

  • Core mindfulness: focuses on improving an individual’s ability to accept and be present in the current moment
  1. Distress tolerance: focuses on increasing an individual’s ability to tolerate pain that may arise from difficult situations, as opposed to trying to change and/ or escape it
  2. Interpersonal effectiveness: focuses on teaching techniques that enable a person to communicate with others in a way that is assertive, maintains self-respect, and simultaneously strengthens relationships
  3. Emotion regulation: focuses on decreasing emotional impulsivity by shifting intense emotion without reacting instinctively to them

An individual that suffers from debilitating anxiety will benefit most from a customized treatment plan. DBT offers both the ability to provide personalized therapeutic support through the individual therapy sessions, as well as peer support in DBT skills training group therapy sessions. Through DBT an individual can learn an array of effective coping mechanisms and anxiety management strategies that can help to prevent, reduce, and even become more resilient towards anxiety.

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 to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

What Triggers A Person With Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) lists ten standalone personality disorders based on similar characteristics, and each personality disorder is grouped into one of three categories (cluster A, cluster B, and cluster C). Borderline personality disorder (BPD) belongs to cluster B, which is characterized by “dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior.” More specifically BPD is characterized by “a pervasive pattern of instability and hypersensitivity in interpersonal relationships, instability in self-image, extreme mood fluctuations, and impulsivity.” Individuals with a borderline personality disorder often struggle with relationship issues, lack self-esteem, have a poor self-image, and have an inability to appropriately self-regulate. A borderline personality disorder is not an uncommon disorder, as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) estimates that 1.4% of the adult population in America experience BPD.

Risk Factors

The exact cause of borderline personality disorder remains unknown. There are, however, several contributing factors that have been recognized as possibly playing a role in its development, potentially increasing one’s susceptibility to BPD. These factors may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Environmental factors: growing up in an unstable, neglectful, and/ or abusive environment could increase one’s risk of developing BPD.
  • Genetics: people with a family history (e.g., parent, sibling, etc.) with BPD may be at increased risk of developing a borderline personality disorder. Psychology Today asserts that BPD is approximately five times more common among people with close biological relatives with BPD.
  • Brain factors: some studies have indicated that individuals diagnosed with BPD have structural and/ or functional abnormalities, specifically in the areas of the brain that reign emotional regulation and impulse control. Furthermore, deviations from typical serotonin (hormone that works to stabilize one’s mood, happiness, and feelings of well-being) production could increase one’s vulnerability to BPD.

There is no definitive medical test to diagnose borderline personality disorder. The diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5 indicate that to be clinically diagnosed with BPD an individual must experience five or more symptoms, in a variety of contexts.

BPD Triggers

A trigger, in the context of BPD typically refers to something that precipitates the exacerbation of one’s BPD symptoms. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains that “triggers are external events or circumstances that may produce very uncomfortable emotional or psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety, panic, discouragement, despair, or negative self-talk.” While BPD triggers can vary from person to person, there are some types of triggers that are more common in BPD, such as the following examples:

  • Perceived or real abandonment
  • Rejection of any kind
  • Loss of a job
  • Locations that invoke negative memories
  • Reminders of traumatic events
  • Ending a relationship

Many borderline personality disorder triggers arise from interpersonal distress. The symptoms that manifest because of borderline personality disorder often mimic those of other mental health disorders (e.g., histrionic personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, bipolar personality disorder, etc.). BPD symptoms pervasively interfere with an individual’s ability to function optimally in his or her daily life.

 

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, or give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

What Are The Symptoms Of Borderline Personality Disorder?

personality-disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, mental health disorder. It is a complex psychological condition that is characterized by pervasive instability in moods, emotions, behaviors, and interpersonal relationships which interfere with one’s ability to function in everyday life. It can be difficult to determine who will develop borderline personality disorder as the cause of BPD remains unknown. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) alludes to research that “suggests that genetics, brain structure and function, and environmental, cultural, and social factors play a role, or may increase the risk for developing borderline personality disorder.” BPD typically develops in early adulthood, often with more severe symptoms occurring in the early stages of onset.

Symptoms & Diagnostic Criteria

Borderline personality disorder directly affects how one feels about him or herself, one’s behavior as well as how an individual can relate to others. It is not uncommon for people with BPD to feel extremely intense emotions for extended periods of time. This makes returning to a stable emotional baseline far more challenging, especially after experiencing an emotionally triggering event. According to the DSM-5 key signs and symptoms of BPD may include:  

  • Unstable personal relationships that alternate between idealization and devaluation, sometimes referred to as splitting
  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment by family and friends
  • Impulsive behaviors resulting in dangerous outcomes (e.g., engaging in unsafe sex, reckless driving, abuse of drugs, etc.)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image, affecting one’s moods, relationships, goals, values, and/ or opinions
  • Self-harming behavior (e.g., suicidal threats)
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness and/ or boredom
  • Periods of intense depressed mood, irritability and/ or anxiety lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days long
  • Dissociative feelings
  • Intense, inappropriate, and/ or uncontrollable anger, typically followed by feelings of guilt and/ or shame

More specifically, the diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5, indicates that to be clinically diagnosed with BPD an individual must experience five or more of the following symptoms, in a variety of contexts,

  1. Emotional instability
  2. Feelings of emptiness
  3. Efforts to avoid abandonment
  4. Impulsive behaviors
  5. Identity disturbances
  6. Inappropriate, irrational and/ or intense bouts of anger
  7. Transient paranoid and/ or dissociative symptoms
  8. Unstable interpersonal relationships
  9. Suicidal and/ or self-harming behaviors

Due to the quick changing nature of signs and symptoms associated with borderline personality disorder, it is notoriously known as a difficult to diagnose illness. The treatment for BPD often includes long-term participation in psychodynamic models of psychotherapy such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). DBT was developed by Marsha M. Linehan in the late 1980s, as a means to more effectively treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. It is an evidence-based psychotherapy that combines techniques from western cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psycho-educational modules, and eastern mindfulness-based practices to foster the systematic learning of new emotional coping skills. Since its inception, dialectical behavior therapy has been and remains the gold standard method of treatment for individuals diagnosed with BPD.

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 to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

Main Cause Of Borderline Personality Disorder?

personality-disorder

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) list ten standalone personality disorders based on similar characteristics, and each personality disorder is grouped into one of three categories (cluster A, cluster B, and cluster C). Borderline personality disorder (BPD) belongs to cluster B, which according to the Mayo Clinic are “characterized by dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior.” More specifically BPD is characterized by “a pervasive pattern of instability and hypersensitivity in interpersonal relationships, instability in self-image, extreme mood fluctuations, and impulsivity.” The symptoms associated with borderline personality disorder can pervasively interfere with an individual’s ability to function optimally in his or her daily life. Most commonly, BPD develops in early adulthood, often with more severe symptoms occurring in the early stages of onset

BPD Triggers & Risk Factors

A trigger, in the context of BPD typically refers to something that precipitates the exacerbation of one’s BPD symptoms. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains “triggers are external events or circumstances that may produce very uncomfortable emotional or psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety, panic, discouragement, despair, or negative self-talk.” While BPD triggers can vary from person to person, there are some types of triggers that are more common in BPD, such as the following examples:

  • Perceived or real abandonment
  • Rejection of any kind
  • Loss of a job
  • Locations that invoke negative memories
  • Reminders of traumatic events
  • Ending a relationship

Many borderline personality disorder triggers arise from interpersonal distress. When it comes to understanding the specific cause of this disease, there is no solitary scientific reason behind why an individual develops borderline personality disorder. Rather there are several contributing factors that have been recognized as possibly playing a role in its development, potentially increasing one’s susceptibility to BPD. These factors may include, but are not limited to the following, provided by the National Institute of Mental Health

  • Genetics: people with a family history (e.g., parent, sibling, etc.) with BPD may be at increased risk of developing borderline personality disorder. Psychology Today assert that BPD is approximately five times more common among people with close biological relatives with BPD. 
  • Environmental factors: growing up in an unstable, neglectful, and/ or abusive environment could increase one’s risk for developing BPD. 
  • Brain factors: some studies have indicated that individuals diagnosed with BPD have structural and/ or functional abnormalities, specifically in the areas of the brain that reign emotional regulation and impulse control. Furthermore, deviations from typical serotonin (hormone that works to stabilize one’s mood, happiness, and feelings of well-being) production could increase one’s vulnerability to BPD. 

Although the above factors may contribute to the development of BPD, exposure to one or more risk factors does not indicate an individual will inevitably to go on to develop borderline personality disorder. Since the root of borderline personality disorder remains unknown, it is impossible to isolate a single cause that accurately and universally explains its development.

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 to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

What Is The Drug Of Choice For Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

What Drugs Are Commonly Prescribed For Depression?

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a mental illness. Mental Health America explains that GAD “is characterized by six months or more of chronic, exaggerated worry and tension that is unfounded or much more severe than the normal anxiety most people experience.” According to the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria, a diagnosis of GAD currently implies chronic, excessive worry lasting at least six months and presenting with three of the possible six somatic or psychological symptoms (restlessness, fatigue, muscle tension, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbance).

Psychiatric Times asserts “GAD typically presents in an episodic pattern of moderate improvement or remission and relapse characterized by a chronic and complicated clinical course.” The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) explains that generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most “common mental disorders in the United States, and can negatively impact a patient’s quality of life and disrupt important activities of daily living.” Although the exact cause of generalized anxiety disorder remains unknown, research has deduced that it likely involves a combination of biological, environmental, and psychological factors. However, additional research is required to conclusively understand the precise cause of generalized anxiety disorder. In any given year, GAD affects 6.8 million adults, which is equal to 3.1% of the U.S. population, and women are twice as likely to be affected.

Treatment: Psychotherapy and Medication

GAD is a chronic condition that does not yet have a universally recognized cure. Nevertheless, depending on the severity of an individual’s GAD symptoms, it can be effectively treated. The two main treatments for generalized anxiety disorder include psychotherapy and medication. There are many psychotherapeutic treatment options for generalized anxiety disorder. Some of the common therapeutic modalities incorporated into one’s treatment plan for generalized anxiety disorder could include one or more of the following: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), expressive arts therapy, and/ or interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT). There are several different types of medications that can be used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, including:

  • Antidepressants: used to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs); examples include Lexapro (escitalopram), Zoloft (sertraline), Prozac (fluoxetine), Cymbalta (duloxetine), Effexor XR (venlafaxine), and Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Azapirones: mild anti-anxiety medications, suitable for long-term use; example Buspirone 
  • Benzodiazepines: fast-acting medications intended for short-term, sporadic use; examples include Xanax (alprazolam), Rivotril (clonazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Anti-convulsants/ antipsychotic medications: less frequently used, but approved for treating generalized anxiety disorder; example Stelazine (trifluoperazine) 

The first-line treatment for GAD, which could be referred to as the drug of choice or the initial medication prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. In most cases integrating a combination of both psychotherapy and medication into one’s treatment plan yields the most successful long-term results.

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 to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

What Is The Best Antidepressant For GAD?

What Is The Best Antidepressant For GAD?

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a mental illness. The Mayo Clinic characterizes GAD as “severe ongoing anxiety that interferes with daily activities.” While experiencing bouts of anxiety is natural, experiencing persistent and debilitating anxiety may be indicative of GAD. The exact cause for developing generalized 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. When posed with the question: What is the best antidepressant for a GAD? There is no universal answer. The best antidepressant medication will depend on each person’s distinct needs.

Types of Medications for GAD

There are several types of antidepressant medications, each with respective risks, benefits, and appropriate uses, which include the following, provided by the Mayo Clinic

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): work by slowing the reabsorption of serotonin (the neurotransmitter known to help with mood regulation and anxiety) in one’s brain. Common examples of SSRIs that may be used to treat GAD include, but are not limited to:
    • Celexa (citalopram)
    • Lexapro (escitalopram)
    • Prozac (fluoxetine)
    • Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): work by reducing the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine in one’s brain. They can be prescribed to treat anxiety, depression, and some chronic pain conditions. Common examples of SNRIs that may be used to treat GAD include:
    • Cymbalta (duloxetine)
    • Effexor XR (venlafaxine)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs): are prescribed less frequently as they are an older class of antidepressants that can cause more side effects than other options. Some examples of TCAs that may be used to treat GAD include:
    • Tofranil (imipramine)
    • Elavil (amitriptyline)
    • Pamelor (nortriptyline) 
  • Benzodiazepines: a type of sedative that alleviates muscle tension and can reduce some of the physical symptoms of anxiety. They are often prescribed to help manage symptoms associated with short-term anxiety. Common examples of benzodiazepines that may be used to treat GAD include:
    • Xanax (alprazolam)
    • Valium (diazepam)
    • Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
    • Ativan (lorazepam)

There are a variety of treatment options for individuals diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. As is true with taking any type of medication there are associated risks. The specific risks will vary from person to person, as they will depend on several contributing factors (e.g., the individual’s health history, the presence of any additional mental health ailments, substance abuse issues, genetics, etc.). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires antidepressant medications to clearly display a black box warning indicating the possibility of increased suicidal thoughts and behaviors when taken by some individuals under the age of 25. Antianxiety medication can be incredibly effective in reducing one’s symptoms associated with a generalized anxiety disorder when taken exactly as prescribed. 

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 to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Is GAD A Serious Mental Illness?

Is GAD A Serious Mental Illness?

Yes; generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a serious mental illness that is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). It is characterized by “chronic, exaggerated worry and tension that is unfounded or much more severe than the normal anxiety most people experience.” While experiencing bouts of anxiety is natural, experiencing persistent and debilitating anxiety may be an indication that something is awry. The exact cause of generalized anxiety disorder remains unknown; however, research has deduced that it likely involves a combination of biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Winchester Hospital identifies several known risk factors that can increase one’s propensity for developing GAD, such as:

  • Family history of anxiety disorders
  • Medical conditions, as people with chronic illness, have a greater risk of GAD
  • Substance abuse
  • History of stressful life events (e.g., traumatic event, childhood abuse or neglect, divorce, etc.)

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) explains that generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most “common mental disorders in the United States, and can negatively impact a patient’s quality of life and disrupt important activities of daily living.”

Signs and Symptoms

There are a variety of common signs and symptoms associated with GAD. The signs and symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder can present in any combination with varying levels of severity. The Mayo Clinic provides examples, some of which include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Overwhelming worry and fear
  • Isolation 
  • Agitation
  • Muscle tension
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Dysphoria
  • Low self-esteem/ low self-worth
  • Tension
  • Anxiety 

The diagnostic criterion provided in the DSM-5 for GAD is somewhat different for adults and children. An adult is diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder when at least three of the above symptoms persist for a minimum of six months. In younger people, however, only one symptom is needed for diagnosis, provided it has been exhibited regularly spanning over a period of six months. 

The Treatment Process

The two main treatments for GAD include psychotherapy and medication, and they are not mutually exclusive. There are several different types of medications that can be used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, including:

  • Antidepressants: used to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs); examples include Lexapro (escitalopram), Zoloft (sertraline), Prozac (fluoxetine), Cymbalta (duloxetine), Effexor XR (venlafaxine), and Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Azapirones: mild anti-anxiety medications, suitable for long-term use; example Buspirone 
  • Benzodiazepines: fast-acting medications intended for short-term, sporadic use; examples include Xanax (alprazolam), Rivotril (clonazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Anti-convulsant/ antipsychotic medications: less frequently used, but approved for treating generalized anxiety disorder; example Stelazine (trifluoperazine) 

There are many psychotherapeutic treatment options for generalized anxiety disorder. Some of the common therapeutic modalities incorporated into one’s treatment plan for generalized anxiety disorder could include one or more of the following: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), expressive arts therapy, and/ or interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT). Every person is unique and will respond distinctly to the various treatment options available. In most cases integrating a combination of both psychotherapy and medication into one’s treatment plan yields the most successful long-term results.

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 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. 

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.