Anxiety is a normal emotion. It is appropriate to feel anxious when confronted with a big problem or decision. But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. Anxiety disorders are characterized by feelings of fear, worry or even dread. They are strong enough to interfere with your life and you may feel unable to control them or reduce their impact. The feeling does not go away and it can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with job performance, school work, and relationships. There are several different types of anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, OCD, social anxiety disorder.
Are you at risk?
Researchers are finding that a combination of heredity and environmental circumstances are risk factors for anxiety disorders. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, specific factors include:
- Shyness, or behavioral inhibition
- Being female
- Anxiety disorders in close biological relatives
- Having few economic resources
- Being divorced or widowed
- Exposure to stressful life events
Treatments and Therapies
Anxiety disorders are generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both.
One type of treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a helpful therapeutic approach for people with anxiety disorders. It teaches a person different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to anxiety-producing and fearful situations. CBT can also help people learn and practice social skills, which is vital for treating social anxiety disorder.
Cognitive therapy focuses on identifying and challenging and neutralizing unhelpful thoughts that fuel anxiety. CBT may be conducted individually or with a group of people who have similar problems. Group therapy is particularly effective for social anxiety disorder. Often “homework” is assigned for participants to complete between sessions.
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