What is an anxiety or panic disorder?
Anxiety or panic disorders are part of the family of mood disorders. Individuals suffering from anxiety disorders often experience intense, sustained anxiety and nervousness. A panic disorder is marked by recurring, unpredicted panic attacks, and may exist in conjunction with an anxiety disorder, or stand alone.
All panic and anxiety disorders share the symptom of unwanted, intense, and enduring fear or concern in circumstances where a person typically wouldn’t feel scared or worried. Anxiety, in mental health terms has a specific meaning that transcends temporary moments of joy or sorrow. In a clinical setting a mood disorder refers to persistent emotional states that have significant influence over the way a person views and interacts with the world.
Again, it is important to understand that short-term feelings of happiness, sadness, fear, worry, and other common human emotions do not signal the presence of a mood disorder, nor do moments of nervousness around important events or large stressors indicate an anxiety or panic disorder. It is when a person’s state of mind becomes so acute that it impairs his or her ability to think or act clearly that an anxiety or panic disorder may be present.
What are the effects of anxiety and panic disorders?
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Various issues arising from panic/anxiety disorders include sadness, low motivation, and potential for health problems. Problems can arise when the original disorder is paired with continual nervousness. Never abating or taking a break, anxiety can leave individuals so consumed by fear and drained of energy that they are unable to maintain relationships and partake in valued activities. An untreated anxiety disorder can interfere with all areas of a person’s life, sometimes making it challenging to function appropriately on a daily basis. The presence of anxiety symptoms can prevent a person from adequately completing responsibilities at work, concentrating on daily tasks, and being able to establish and maintain interpersonal relationships. Some individuals may be unable to go certain places or, in some instances, are unable to leave their home at all. Additionally, it is common for individuals with anxiety disorders to develop concurrent mental health issues (i.e. depression) or physical illnesses (i.e. heart disease, respiratory problems, decreased immune functioning). Individuals dealing with anxiety are also at an increased risk for developing of substance abuse problems, as chemicals can be a temporary and (sometimes not so effective) way of coping with anxiety.
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety Include:
- Pounding heart
- Stomach upset or dizziness
- Frequent urination or diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
- Tremors and twitching
- Muscle tension
Individuals with a panic disorder are likely to avoid cramped public areas, such as shopping malls or airplanes. Some people suffer just one panic attack, while others may experience frequent episodes. Many people suffer from recurrent periods of panic and anxiety, unaware of a specific cause.
Physical Symptoms of a Panic Attack Include:
- Shortness of breath or hyperventilation
- Heart palpitations
- Nausea or upset stomach
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Trembling or shaking
- A choking feeling
- Feeling detached from your surroundings
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Hot or cold flashes
How PTI Can Help
For those who are trying to overcome the debilitating symptoms of anxiety, PTI invites clients to experience healing of the mind, body, and spirit through an integrative and comprehensive treatment approach. Therapists incorporate cognitive behavioral therapy while continuing to provide experiential psychodynamic therapy.
Additional Issues Therapy for Anxiety or Panic Disorders Can Address
- Coping skills
- Working through grief and loss
- Relapse prevention
- Anger management
- Exposure Therapy/Experiential Access to Anxiety Producing Stimuli
Some Interventions Often Utilized in the Therapeutic Process at PTI
- Art therapy
- Chi Kung
- Movement therapy
- Somatic Experiencing (SE)
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)/Bilateral Stimulation
- Dyadic Resourcing