As a private practice Marriage and Family Therapist and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, I've specialized in holistic anxiety reduction and trauma healing for years. I work with Anxious Folk every day. Every single day. It’s my tribe. And I can tell you there are plenty of Anxious Folk in Orange County, in every community, and in your community. Maybe in your household. Certainly in your place of employment. You, yourself, may be suffering with overwhelming, intrusive, disruptive states of anxiety. You may know you’re stressed out and worried, but how do you actually know when you’ve tipped into an anxiety disorder? And does it even matter?
Here’s My Take On It.
You may be comforted by the idea you “have” something and it can be treated. That’s fine. Really. And most Anxious Folk are truly relieved when they realize they're not the only ones feeling this way. As your therapist, I’m most interested in identifying the ways in which you’re uncomfortable, developing a plan for addressing and understanding that discomfort, increasing your resiliency and ability to self-soothe, teaching you enhanced self-awareness and self-care skills, and taking your life back. That’s what’s going to be most important, whether we talk about your experience as a mental health issue with a diagnosis or we talk about your experience as something normal bodies and minds can go through when provided with enough of the right kind of stressors over a long enough period of time. You learned to be anxious and you can unlearn it. Over time.
Still, you may have an interest in what are the various ways “clinical” anxiety can show up in your life and experience and those of your loved ones. With that in mind, I’m providing a list of some of the more common anxiety experiences for your consideration.
The Anxiety Diagnoses:
2. Panic Attack Disorder. Less common than General Anxiety, but still very common, a panic attack can strike out of nowhere, be accompanied by a highly activated emotional state, profuse sweating, racing heartbeat, and even chest pains and difficulty breathing. In the midst of a panic attack, particularly your first episode, it’s common to feel you’re actually dying or experiencing a heart attack. Some studies tell us as many as 80% of ER visits are actually related to General Anxiety and Panic Attack. If you've had a panic attack, your biggest fear and concern is related to avoiding the next panic attack. Avoiding panic and fearing panic becomes the issue most of your anxiety is organized around. The good news? Panic is just a form of anxiety and will respond to all the same treatments, interventions, self-care skills and tools as General Anxiety.
4. Specific Phobias. A phobia is an overwhelming illogical fear of a specific thing, as opposed to fear of social situations or a general and pervasive experience of anxiety. This can include anything, such as fear of public speaking, fear of flying, spiders, snakes, dogs, heights, small spaces (agoraphobia), vomiting (yes, this is a thing), and small spaces. There are probably as many phobias are asthere are things to experience in life. Many people may experience extreme panic in the face of their specific trigger.
5. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). One of the more extreme and disruptive experiences of anxiety. OCD appears as obsessions, intrusive thoughts, fixations on self-soothing through counting, “checking” behaviors, patterns, repetitive actions, hand-washing, etc. It can be expressed through highly obsessive and repetitive sexual, violent or religious thoughts. Behaviors can become highly ritualized and time consuming. Treatment for OCD can be specialized and effective. Like all the anxiety disorders or experiences, we benefit from getting good support in our efforts towards healing and reclaiming our lives. It's especially important to get adequate support when you're in the throes of OCD, as it can be such a disruptive and destructive expression of anxiety.
Oh My Goodness, I Have Them All!
Your Anxious Experience Is A Response And A Coping Strategy. It's Brilliant!
You learned anxious response as a way of responding to your environment as a child. Anxious vigilant strategies may have served you well then. Brilliantly, in fact. It’s just not working for you now.
The good news is you learned anxious coping strategies and you can unlearn them. Anxiety is not something bad that’s happened to you. Your'e not a helpless victim of your Anxiety, even if it feels like it in this moment. It’s not about being weak. Anxiety is not a character flaw. Anxiety is a way of managing life and it’s turned the tables on you and is managing you instead.
Unraveling anxiety, giving yourself your life back, learning how to move into wellbeing again, is the biggest gift you can give yourself and your loved ones. It’s also the work I do every day, day in and day out, in my Orange County therapy office. I specialize in holistic anxiety reduction and trauma healing. You don’t have to do this alone. A little expert support can make all the difference in learning how to reduce your anxious experience overall. Call me when you’re ready to move into greater states of freedom. Call me today.