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From Barrington and Algonquin, IL: Anxiety Disorders: The Role of Psychotherapy in Treatment

Feb 25, 2008
Everyone feels anxious and under stress occasionally. Situations such as time pressures, important business responsibilities or driving in heavy traffic often bring about anxious, nervous and stressful feelings. On the one hand, anxiety may help you become more alert and focused when facing threatening circumstances.

However, persistent anxiety often causes severe distress over time and can seriously disrupt your life to the point it becomes debilitating. However, with effective treatment, you can lead a better than normal life.

What are the major anxiety problems?
Some people have recurring fears or worries and often have a persistent sense that something bad is just about to happen. This often involves health, relationship or money issues. Although the specific cause for the anxiety may be difficult to identify this nervousness is very real and often interferes in ones ability to concentrate.

An attack of sudden, intense and unprovoked dread characterizes panic disorder. Sufferers generally develop strong persistent apprehension about when and where the next attack of panic will occur, and they often restrict their activities in an illusory attempt to cope.

Persistent, uncontrollable, unwanted feelings or thoughts (obsessions), routines or rituals characterize obsessive-compulsive disorder. Sufferers engage in compulsive, almost involuntary rituals to try to prevent themselves from feeling intense anxiety. Examples of common rituals include washing hands or showering excessively for fear of germs, or checking locks abnormally to prevent an imagined break-in.

Post-traumatic stress disorder causes emotional trauma which often results from a natural disaster, serious accident or victimization by a violent crime. Serious anxieties or fears are triggered by reminders of the event, sometimes months or even years after the trauma.

Shortness of breath, disturbing heart palpitations, trembling, even dizziness often accompanies certain anxiety disorders. These symptoms may begin at any time, but they often start in adolescence or early adulthood. There is also some evidence that a genetic or family predisposition may be responsible.

It is important to seek treatment.
Anxiety disorders can have serious consequences if left untreated. A common consequence for sufferers of panic disorder is to scrupulously avoid putting themselves in a situation that may trigger an attack of dread.

Such avoidance behavior frequently creates problems by interfering with employment responsibilities, family obligations or other required tasks of everyday life.

Those who suffer from anxiety disorders are prone to depression and have a greater tendency to abuse alcohol and other mind-altering substances. Relationships with family, friends and coworkers can often become very strained and job performance sometimes suffers.

Effective treatments are available for anxiety disorders and they can be treated successfully by appropriately trained health, mental health and counseling professionals.

Research has demonstrated that both therapy and counseling can be highly effective in treating anxiety. One effective approach is behavioral therapy which involves the use of techniques to reduce or stop the undesired behavior or feeling. For example, one approach involves training patients in relaxation techniques to reduce any agitation or hyperventilation (rapid, shallow breathing).

Through cognitive interventions, patients discover how their thoughts contribute to the symptoms of anxiety and how to modify them to reduce the likelihood of re-occurrence. The individual is often taught through simulation and experience to tolerate fearful situations in an environment that is controlled, gradual and safe.

Proper and effective medications may also have a role in treatment along with psychotherapy. Clinical
psychologists are uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat anxiety disorders. Sufferers should seek one who is skilled in the use of psychotherapy and cognitive and behavioral therapies.

How long does psychological treatment take?
Treatments for anxiety disorders do not work over-night and you must be comfortable with the therapist with whom you are working. The patient's cooperation is crucial, and there must be a strong sense that you and your therapist are collaborating together.

Treatment must be customized to your very individual needs and you should begin to notice improvement within eight to ten sessions.

The prospects for your long-term recovery are very good. You can regain control of your feelings and thoughts -- and your life.
About the Author
Dr Shery is in Cary, IL, near Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Marengo and Lake-in-the-Hills. He's an expert psychologist. Call 1 847 516 0899 and make an appt orlearn more about counseling at: http://www.carypsychology.com
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