WHAT IS ANXIETY? A PLANO ANXIETY THERAPIST EXPLAINS
Anxiety is a natural human response characterized by feelings of unease, worry, and fear. But for some, this worry and fear is so strong that it interferes with the ability to perform daily activities like work or school. Anxiety can also stand in the way of healthy relationships. As a Plano anxiety therapist, I love educating people about anxiety and how they can learn to manage it better so they can lead a calmer life.
HOW DOES ANXIETY AFFECT PEOPLE?
According to research, anxiety is the most common mental health issue, affecting almost 20% of Americans each year. Anxiety cases increased significantly after Covid hit.
We all feel worried or stressed at times, but for some people, anxiety is a whole different game. It's a persistent cloud of unease that just won't budge. Think of it as a big, tangled knot of emotions that can make you feel nervous, scared, or even panicky.
When anxiety sets in, it can impact every part of your life. Simple tasks like going to school or work, and meeting friends for a night out become challenging, or even impossible. You might experience your heart racing, your palms sweating, and your stomach churning. It's as if your body goes into overdrive, preparing for a threat that isn't even there. At its worst, you can no longer enjoy things that mean the most to you.
A PLANO ANXIETY THERAPIST SHARES WHAT ANXIETY FEELS LIKE
All of my clients experience anxiety. For my Plano counseling clients with eating disorders, anxiety gets so bad that they have a hard time eating enough to nourish their bodies. Sometimes clients have so much anxiety that they lose their appetite, or end up with stomach pain so bad they can’t keep their food down when they DO eat. Some eating disorder clients engage in overeating or emotional eating to manage anxiety. Others eat very little to help them feel less anxious. For others, extreme exercise or self-induced vomiting/purging helps them to feel less anxious. For many eating disorder clients, controlling their bodies is the ONLY thing that helps with their anxiety. Instead of feeling anxious, controlling their weight or how much they eat calms them. It gives them a high they can’t get elsewhere.
When I work with clients with anxiety disorders, they tell me their worry is like a heckler that follows them around all day. It screams at them about mistakes they’ve made in the past. It reminds them of things they might mess up in the future. The heckler never shuts up! It’s like they’re stuck in a hamster wheel of neverending reminders of what could go wrong.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT ANXIETY DISORDERS?
GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER
People with generalized anxiety disorder experience almost daily anxiety and worry about multiple situations, out of proportion to the actual danger or threat. The worry can appear at home, at work, at school, or all of the above. The person is usually unable to control the anxiety, leading to a number of distressing anxiety symptoms, including:
- Feeling constantly keyed up or on edge
- Feeling fatigued or easily exhausted
- Difficulty concentrating, with the mind going blank at times
- Frequent muscle tension or bodily discomfort
- Irritability, making it difficult to cope with daily stressors
- Sleep disturbances, leading to problems falling or staying asleep.
For a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder, the anxiety must significantly impact various aspects of the person's life, including their performance at school, home, work, or in personal relationships.
SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is experienced as an intense feeling of worry and fear in social situations, or situations in which one has to perform. Those with social anxiety worry greatly about being judged, evaluated negatively, or rejected by others. They often worry about showing signs of anxiety, like blushing or stumbling over words. They worry about others seeing them as foolish, awkward, or boring. As a result, these folks avoid social or performance situations whenever possible. When they can't avoid these situations, they feel extreme discomfort.
Physical symptoms are common in people with social anxiety disorder, such as a rapid heart rate, nausea, and excessive sweating. In some cases, they may even experience full-blown panic attacks when confronting situations they fear. Despite being aware that their fear is excessive and irrational, those with social anxiety disorder often feel helpless in the face of their overwhelming anxiety.
Specific phobias include emetophobia, fear of driving, fear of flying, fear of needles, and health anxiety. Needles at the doctor's office, tall bridges, new places, and elevators can trigger uneasiness or fear if you have a phobia. Unlike most people who can feel nervous when faced with these, but carry on with daily activities, those with specific phobias face a greater challenge. For example, sufferers avoid common places, situations, or objects, despite knowing there's no real danger. These fears are irrational and overwhelming, leaving them feeling powerless to control their reactions. Unfortunately, these phobias can disrupt daily routines, and negatively impact work, self-esteem, and relationships, as sufferers go to great lengths to avoid the intense anxiety they experience. Specific phobias commonly revolve around animals, insects, germs, heights, thunder, driving, public transportation, illness, flying, dental or medical procedures, and elevators. Simply thinking about them can trigger extreme anxiety.
People with panic disorder experience frequent, unexpected panic attacks and a constant fear of future attacks. A panic attack is the sudden onset of intense fear or discomfort, with some of these symptoms:
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
- Feelings of choking
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint
- Chills or heat sensations
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself
- Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
- Fear of dying
As with other anxiety disorders, panic disorder significantly disrupts one's daily life, leading to missed work, frequent medical visits, and avoidance of triggering situations.
A PLANO ANXIETY THERAPIST CAN HELP YOU FIND PEACE
If any of the above descriptions sounds like you, please know there is help! My name is Danesa, and I am a Plano anxiety therapist who helps people manage anxiety, stress, and perfectionism. I would love to talk with you about how I can help YOU start living life again. I offer video/telehealth therapy in Texas, which is often more comfortable for a person with anxiety. Contact me here, call me at 469-850-2420, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free 15-min phone consultation to see if we're a good match! If we aren't, I know other great therapists who can help. At my Plano counseling office, I also specialize in eating issues like binge eating, anorexia or bulimia, overeating and compulsive eating. My physical office is in Plano, Texas, but I also serve Frisco, Allen, McKinney, and other Collin County cities. I offer video therapy as well for your convenience.