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Friday, January 10, 2014

Getting Help in Therapy For Anxiety Disorders

It's not unusual to experience stress during the normal course of our lives. Normal stress occurs in every day life and can actually help us to be more effective and productive at times. However, compared to mild stress, an anxiety disorder such as generalized anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias or post-traumatic stress disorder can cause us to feel significant and debilitating distress. Without help, these anxiety disorders can interfere with our relationships and our every day activities.

Getting Help in Psychotherapy For Anxiety Disorders

What are the Anxiety Disorders?

Generalized anxiety disorder:
Generalized anxiety disorder occurs when a person worries excessively and has a feeling of foreboding and dread that bad things are going to happen. He or she might be worrying excessively about issues like money, health, or his or her relationship. These worries are often not related to a particular circumstance in the present, and they are recurring and persistent.

These worries are also intense enough to interfere with a person's relationships and daily activities. He or she might have problems concentrating or sleeping. Generalized anxiety might affect appetite. These persistent worries might interfere with a person's ability to communicate or relate to others because he or she is so consumed with anxiety.

Panic disorder:
People with panic disorder often feel a sudden feeling of dread. Their heart might start racing. They might also start sweating profusely. The actual panic might only last a few minutes, but the person with panic disorder often worries about when the next panic will occur. Often, people with panic disorder start to avoid the situations, places or people that they associate with their panic. Without treatment, the people, places and situations that they avoid can increase until, in severe cases, they are too afraid to go outside.

Phobias:
Phobias are irrational fears of various things: fear of heights, fear of animals, fear of being in enclosed places, fear of flying, and so on. Similar to people with panic disorder, people who suffer with phobias often try to avoid the situations and things that they fear. This is not always possible, so when they are forced to deal with their phobia, their phobic reaction often turns into panic.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD):
People who suffer with OCD engage in certain obsessive thoughts or compulsive activities. These obsessive thoughts and compulsive activities are unwanted, but the person with OCD feels compelled to do them when they feel anxious. For many people, these thoughts or activities become ritualized, so that they might have to do things in a certain order or a certain way or a certain number of times. OCD can also involve an excessive fear of germs or contamination, excessive checking (e.g., checking that the door is locked several times in a row or checking many times in a row that the gas is turned off, etc). OCD can also involve excessive hand washing.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD):
People who experience overwhelming trauma, possibly due to a natural disaster, a crime, a combat situation, an accident or other emotionally overwhelming events, can develop PTSD. We often associate PTSD with soldiers in war. Originally, PTSD during combat was called "shell shock." However, we now know that PTSD can develop outside of combat situations. People who develop PTSD might not experience any symptoms for months or even years after the event. Anything that reminds them of the traumatic event might cause them to feel like they're reliving the original traumatic event. They might feel panic or intense fear whenever they are confronted with reminders. For instance, if someone gets into a severe car accident, after he recovers from the accident, he might be too afraid to drive again. Or, even if he is able to get behind the wheel again, he might experience feelings of terror and dread if he has to drive to the same place where the accident occurred. Without help, PTSD can be a severe and debilitating disorder that can seriously affect a person's life as he or she relives the incident emotionally and tries to avoid anything that brings up these feelings again.

Getting Help for Anxiety Disorders:
Anxiety disorders are not the same as normal stress and every day anxiety. Left untreated, anxiety disorders often have serious adverse effects on people's lives. It's not unusual for a fear that begins about a particular situation or event to generalize to other areas, causing tremendous disruption to a person's life.

 For instance, if a person has an untreated fear of being in an elevator because it is an enclosed space, this fear often generalizes to fear of being on a train or plane or in a small room. Since we now know more about the mind-body connection, we also know that untreated anxiety disorders can often lead to medical problems. We also know that some people with anxiety disorders turn to drinking excessively, abusing drugs, gambling, sexual addiction, and other addictions as a maladaptive way of coping.

Getting Help in Therapy For Anxiety Disorders

How I Treat Anxiety Disorders:
As a licensed psychotherapist, I use a variety of psychotherapeutic treatment modalities to treat anxiety disorders, including cognitive behavioral treatment, psychodynamic psychotherapy, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), clinical hypnosis (also known as hypnotherapy), and Somatic Experiencing.

Each therapy is tailored to the needs of the individual client.

After the initial evaluation period, I work collaboratively with the client to come up with the treatment plan that is best for him or her.

If you think you might be suffering with an anxiety disorder, it's important to know that you're not alone and you can get help from a licensed mental health professional.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who has helped many clients to overcome anxiety disorders.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me: josephineolivia@aol.com.

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