What is Social Anxiety Disorder? Do you have intense feelings of discomfort and fear when in social situations? You may have social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder affects millions of people around the world and varies greatly from person to person. However, it is important to know that if you find social settings unbearable, you can get help. A doctor will be able to help you treat your social anxiety disorder so that you can live a normal life instead of being paralyzed by fear. It's hard to pin down the exact symptoms of social anxiety disorder, which is why seeing your doctor is so important. However, some common signs that you may have this disorder include a number of fears. Do you commonly fear social situations? You should see your doctor if your fears reflect the following: fear that all attention is on you, fear of making mistakes, fear of judgment, fear that everyone is better than you, fear of humiliating yourself, or fear that everyone sees your flaws. These fears may or may not cause panic attacks, but always cause intense anxiety. Anxiety may lead to shaking, a pounding heart, blushing, sweating, stammering, nausea, and dizziness. Shyness is not the same as social anxiety disorder. While you may feel shy in certain situations, social anxiety disorder is physically debilitating to a person experiencing it. In fact, social anxiety disorder may take over a person's life if left untreated. This disorder usually starts from childhood or early adulthood and can affect everyone, regardless of race, religion, or gender, although women are more likely to develop this disorder than men. Social anxiety disorder is often found in conjunction with other anxiety disorders. It is also common for a person with social anxiety disorder to try to treat it using drugs or alcohol, which will in turn lead to substance abuse. The best and only way to treat social anxiety disorder is to see your doctor. Therapy and medication can help you work through this disorder so that you can live a healthy and socially active life. Cognitive-behavioral therapy will help you grip your disorder so that you can learn how to make yourself calm down and have less fear in social situations. Medications can be short or long term are can work to block certain inhibitors. Together, you can your doctor can find the perfect treatment for you so that you can take back control of your life. You may have to live with social anxiety disorder for the rest of your life, but it does not have to stop you from being happy. The One Cause of Anxiety Disorders Anxiety disorders are varied and include things like social anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and phobias. Millions of people around the world are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder during their lifetimes, and so many are looking for answers as to what has caused this medical condition, which can be quite serious. The title here may be misleading, because there really is no one cause of anxiety disorders. You may have an anxiety disorder for any number of reasons, or a combination of reasons. In order to learn more about your condition and try to pin point its cause, here are a few of the things that play into the development of an anxiety disorder. First and foremost, many people want to know if anxiety disorders are genetic and can be passed on to future generations. Studies show that this may be the case. If a parent has an anxiety disorder, there is a chance that you may get this disorder as well. However, family factors may play a role in this as well. When you are raised in a household in which someone has an anxiety disorder, you are essentially taught these panic behaviors as well. Phobias are especially common to be passed to other family members. Insure relationships with parents may also cause anxiety disorders later in life. In short, this may be partially due to genetics, but also has something to do with your childhood environment as well. Other environmental experiences outside of your childhood living conditions play into the development for anxiety disorders as well. If you have a traumatizing event as a child, or even as an adult, that even could either stay with you, causing post-traumatic stress disorder, or could affect your thinking, causing other types of anxiety disorders. Social pressures and culture may play a role in this as well, teaching people to become anxious at certain times or fearful of certain things. An anxiety disorder may also be the result of health factors not related to genetics. Phobias and other anxiety disorders sometimes develop due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, especially with the chemical serotonin, which also affects depression in some people. Evolution comes into play, because you automatically have a fight-or-flight system built into our brains. The foods we eat, amount we exercise, and sleep we get every night all play roles into how our brain functions. Lastly, anxiety disorders may develop due to stress. When you are stressed about something, you may find that you slow start to wear out. While our bodies are built to handle certain amounts of stress, over time, this simply breaks down and we give in to anxiety, which can develop into an anxiety disorder. No matter what the reason, however, it is simply important that you ask for help dealing with your condition. As Easy as 1-2-3: Finding Help for Anxiety Disorders Anxiety disorder can be very difficult to understand and treat. However, with a bit of help, you can truly overcome any type of anxiety disorder you may have. While it might be impossible for you to fully "cure" anxiety disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or phobias, you can learn how to deal with these medical conditions in order to live a fully normal and productive life. The key to living with anxiety disorders is finding help. There are three main types of help you should get, and luckily this help is readily available to everyone! First, find help from medical professionals. A doctor will be able to diagnose your problem, suggest treatment options, and help you learn to be safe and happy. You may also work with a therapist to talk about your problems and learn behaviors that can help you through the day. Overall, this is the most important type of help you can get because an anxiety disorder can physically be dangerous. Only a medical professional can make sure you get the best care possible. Another crucial kind of support can be found in the form of support groups. Hospitals, religious organizations, and community centers often sponsor support groups, which can be led by professionals are self-led. In both cases, this type of support system allows you to be in contact with others dealing with the same disorders, so you can see that you are not alone. Together, you can also help one another learn tips and tricks to dealing with anxiety. A good support group can really become a second family. However, the third group is your actually family, as well as close friends. When you develop an anxiety disorder, it may be difficult for some people to help you through this rough period of your life. Your true friends will be there, though, to help you through the recovery process and to support your decisions. If you do not find this type of support within your group of friends, they are probably not the friends you should have. When you know someone with an anxiety disorder, your life may be more complicated, but sticking by his or her side can make all the difference when it comes to recovery. Asking for help is a key step in dealing with anxiety disorder. If a disorder is ruining your life, you truly need to find people who can help you overcome the disease and live a happy and healthy life instead. The Low-Down on Benzodiazepines Anxiety disorders like social phobia and panic disorder can be treated with a number of medications. One such class of these medications is benzodiazepines, known as benzos for shorts. It is important, whatever your medical condition, to understand how your medications work. This will help you stay in control of your treatment and your life. Therefore, if you have anxiety disorders, you should understand how benzos work so that you can make the best medical choices for yourself. Benzos are considered very mild tranquilizers. Qualities of benzos that you'll hear used to describe these drugs include hypnotic, sedative, anxiolytic, muscle relaxant, and amnesic. They work, in short, by slowing down your central nervous system. You can use benzos for a number of medical conditions, not just anxiety, which include things like incomnia, seizures, muscle spasms, and alcohol withdrawal. Dentists also sometimes use benzos in their work. Those who abuse stimulant drugs, such as speed, sometimes also abuse benzos to come down from the high. Common drugs classified as benzos are Xanax, Valium, Serax, Rohypnol, Halcion, Librium, Mogadone, and Ativan, among others. There are a number of side effects to consider if you are thinking about using benzos to treat your anxiety disorder. First and foremost, some benzos are extremely addictive. While some report no addictive feelings, others report complete addiction in as little as a few days. It depends on the strength of the drug you are using and your body's specific reaction to it. Other side effects are drowsiness, ataxia, confusing, imbalance, impaired judgment, and forgetfulness. Some benzos are stronger than others and all have drug-specific side effects to consider as well. Once you are dependant or addicted to benzos, withdrawal can be difficult as will include symptoms like insomnia, panic attacks, hypertension, tremor, depression, sweating, loss of appetite, and dysphoria. Sudden withdrawal may cause immediate convulsions, catatonia, delusions, psychosis, and delirium tremens. The ultimate result could be death. Only anxiety disorder patients to prescriptions and strict instructions from their doctors should take benzos. Uncontrolled, the use of these drugs (like with most prescriptions drugs) can be very harmful to your health. Benzos may be able to help you regain control during a panic attack or in your day-to-day life. Many anxiety disorder patients have, in fact, found great success with this kind of medication. However, there are disadvantages to benzos as well. Make sure that you fully understand how to use benzos and how they will affect your body before beginning to take them. Dealing with Phobias One of the most common kinds of anxiety disorders are phobias, which are irrational fears surrounding a specific object or situation. With this type of disorder, the fear is persistent and reoccurring, even though the feared object or situation entering a person's life is often out of control of that person. This anxiety disorder is affecting up to 18% of Americans and is the second most common mental illness among men and the most common mental illness among woman. For many, phobias interfere with daily life. Luckily, there is help. There are many ways to treat phobias, no matter how they have developed. If you think that you suffer from a phobia, no matter what it may be, see your doctor immediately. He or she can recommend a treatment plan for you so that you can begin to overcome your fears and take back the control of your daily life. Phobias do not have to say with you forever. Clinical phobias are separated into three main categories: social phobias (in which a person fears involvement with people and social situations), specific phobias (in which a certain trigger like heights, spiders, water, or flying can cause fear), and agoraphobia (in which a person fears leaving the comfort and familiarity of home or a safe area). There are many different treatments you can try in order to cope with any of these phobias. Virtual reality is a relatively new kind of treatment used specifically to desensitize a patient. With virtual reality, a person is immersed in fear until becoming immune to it, essentially. You can also actually put the patient in a fearful situation, but this can sometimes be dangerous or expensive, so virtual reality is a great alternative. It also gives patients the chance to pull the plug, so to speak, if needed, so more patients agree to this treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy may also work to help overcome a phobia. With this method, you examine your specific thoughts and behaviors and work to overcome them. You can do this one-on-one with a therapist or in a group setting. By understanding your fears, it may be easier to realize that your fears are irrational. Anti-anxiety drugs may also help you make strides towards overcoming your phobias. These medications are prescription strength and are available for both long-term and short-term use. One example of a drug that has help people with phobias is benzodiazepine. Often, medication works best in conjunction with other types of therapy treatments. Panic Disorders: Are They Real? I can't tell you how many times I've heard of people having a panic attack and someone saying that they just wanted attention. Nothing could be farther from the truth. While a panic attack is not the same as some traditional medical conditions, it is both a mental and physical disorder that must be taken very seriously. If you suffer from panic attacks, see a doctor immediately to get you condition under control. As classified by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), panic disorders are technically under the umbrella of anxiety disorders. Other anxiety disorders include social phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and agoraphobia, among other conditions. Over 20 million people in the United States alone suffer some kind of anxiety disorder or another. Panic disorder is characterized by reoccurring panic attacks that often happen spontaneously and unexpectedly. A panic attack is an intense feeling of irrational fear that lasts over a period of time. Some symptoms of a panic attack may or may not include a pounding heart, chest pains, sweating, difficulty breathing, the fear of going crazy, shaking, cold or hot flashed, the choking sensation, and nausea. One panic attack doe not mean you should be diagnosed with panic disorder, but if this condition occurs a number of times and interrupts your life, you should see a doctor immediately. Most people experience the unpleasantness of a panic attack at some point or other in their lives. While this may be a scary experience, you should generally not be concerned unless the month following the panic attack leads to constant worry about have another panic attack, constant worry about a condition that could be related to the attack, or major changes in your lifestyle. When you have a panic attack, even for the first time, see a doctor. Try to clearly think about the symptoms you've experienced and note the time and length of the attack. This information will help your doctor find the best treatment options available for you. Often, panic attacks occur simultaneously with other anxiety disorders, so being clear about your experiences will help your doctor to understand your experiences. Remember, panic attacks are real. While there may be a few cases where people pretend to have attacks to get attention or for other reasons, this is not the norm. If someone around you is experiencing a panic attack, offer your help and call a doctor immediately to get help for the person. Tips to Finding the Perfect Therapist When you have an anxiety disorder, it is important to seek help in order to overcome your anxiety. Anxiety disorders include obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder, among other things. Millions of people suffer from anxiety disorders, and the only way to overcome these things is to find help from a professional. While your medical doctor may be able to treat you, another important person in your life should be your therapist. Make sure you find the best therapist possible to treat your condition by using the following tips. First, look for a therapist that is recommended by others. The best form of advertising is word of mouth, because you can be sure that the therapist is skilled and has helped others in the past. You can ask your doctor for recommendations, but others suffering from anxiety disorders will probably be able to tell you even more about therapists in the area. You can contact other patients with anxiety disorder by going to support groups, which are often offered at your local community center or hospital. Another great tip for finding the perfect therapist is to look for someone specifically advocating the kind of treatment that interests you. For example, if you want to talk about your problems and try to understand your thought process and reasoning behind your anxiety, a therapist specializing in cognitive therapy will probably work best for you. If you want to overcome a specific phobia, a therapist interested in desensitization may work best instead. There are a number of different kinds of treatments, and if you have a specific kind in mind, be sure to find a therapist advocating that kind of treatment. Lastly, when looking for a therapist consider more than personality -- consider convenience. Although you of course want a therapist who is easy to talk to and friendly, you should also take into consideration how many patients he or she sees, because this will indicate the amount to time available to be spent on you. Also look at the distance from his or her office to your home and consider a therapist who is willing to meet your specific needs. Every therapist is different, so someone who works well for another patient may not be the best choice for you. If you are unhappy with your therapist for any reason, remember that you can leave to look for a new therapist at any time. For the most stable treatment, find a therapist you like and stay with that therapist until you feel as though you have overcome your disorder. Reliving the Past: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Common among war veterans, rape victims, and others who experienced terrifying events, post-traumatic stress disorder is a conditions that is characterized by the gripping fear persistent due to flashback thoughts of an ordeal. Post- traumatic stress disorder, also called PTSD can hurt a person's work, social, and family lives. There are a number of horrible events that could cause one to experience PTSD symptoms. Besides those listed above, these include: child abuse, violent attacks, threats, natural disasters, and accidents. In any cause, there is usually a sense of helplessness and tragic danger. However simply witnessing a horrible event can cause PTSD. PTSD has a number of distinct symptoms that can help you diagnoses your own condition. There include nightmares about the event, avoidance of thoughts or feelings, difficulty remembering the experience, irritability, difficulty concentrating, emotional drain, guilt, feelings of distance from friends and family. Having one or two of these symptoms does not mean you're suffering from PTSD, and not everyone experiencing an event will develop this anxiety disorder. Generally, you should see a doctor is these symptoms last after one month. Treatment for PTSD is very important because the disorder can cause you to miss work or school and have trouble socializing. Having PTSD is nothing to be ashamed of -- over 5 million America adults alone say they have this disorder. PTSD affects anyone, regardless of age, race, economic status, religion, or gender, although more women than men tend to have PTSD. When something tragic happens in your life and you can't move on, PTSD is a likely disorder to develop, no matter who you are or what you look like. Thankfully, there are a few ways to treat PTSD. Therapy is a very good way to talk about your problems, and it can also help you from experiencing PTSD from the beginning. Remember to tell you therapist the truth about everything and ask for advice whenever you feel like you need it to avoid nerve-wracking situations, like panic disorders or flashbacks. Medication is also possible to help people deal with PTSD. If PTSD is left untreated, the results could be other anxiety disorders, depression, sleeping problems, substance abuse, and a lowered immune system. You can win the fight against PTSD! Treatment in all forms is available to help you move on with your life or find closure. Talk to you doctor today if you've concerned about yourself developing PTSD. Who Suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Anxiety disorders encompass a number of medical conditions deal with anxiety, and one of these conditions in particular is post-traumatic stress disorder. Unlike other mental illnesses, post-traumatic stress disorder has nothing to do with genetics. It is purely derived from your experiences in the past. Millions of people deal with post-traumatic stress disorder every year, and if you know someone who has had one of the following experiences, you should keep a watchful eye in order to be sure that post-traumatic stress disorder does not develop. The largest group of people dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder is veterans. While at war, veterans are exposed to a number of horrible things, including death, destruction, injury too horrible to imagine, famine, abandonment of children, and rage. Often war is a time of terror, and this takes a toll on mental health. When these military personnel return home, there is often an inability to mesh back into normal society, which is why you'll se a number of homeless veterans still today. Post-traumatic stress disorder is common, and many veterans experience dreams of their times in the service. The United States government allocates money to help these victims, so if you are a veteran and worried that the things you've experienced while at war could be disrupting your life, see a doctor, even if you do not have health insurance to cover treatment costs. Victims of horrible crimes, especially rape, may also experience post-traumatic stress disorder. This medical condition often shows itself when a person is experiencing something reminiscent of the time when the crime happened. For example, a woman who was raped in the past may not be able to be intimate with another person for a long time. This extends to other crime victims as well. Dreams may occur, or a person may start avoiding certain activities or areas because of fear, even if these places and situations are very safe in rational thought. Accidents can also cause post-traumatic stress disorder. You may find that you cannot remember a car accident if you suddenly wake up in the hospital. This may not be due to brain injuries, but rather to your brain blocking these memories because they are too difficult to bear to remember. You may also experience other symptoms typical of post-traumatic stress disorder and may form phobias of the things that caused your accident. Post-traumatic stress disorder can affect anyone, regardless of how strong of a person you may be. When you go through a horrifying event, it is hard to remove yourself from the scare of that situation. Everyone surviving something terrible will have a period of time where they feel fear or nausea when remember the event, but if you find that these thoughts are disrupting your daily life, you should see a doctor for treatment right away. Saying Goodbye to Stress Anxiety disorders are often a product of stress. From GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) to panic disorder, you can cut back on the anxiety in your life simply by reducing stress. Stress is normal in daily life no matter who you are, but if you let your stress take control of your life, serious problems will arise. Fortunately, ongoing stress is easy to overcome, but it is important to know the steps to doing so. Stress is an internal reaction triggers by external factors, like pressure. One of the best ways to overcome these reactions is with plenty of exercise. Daily exercise can help you learn to physically deal with stress by improving your tolerance to stress during exercise. During a panic attack, most people feel short of breath and a pounding heart. A hard workout gives you these same experiences, but in a healthy way. AS you exercise more and more, you push your body to accept these conditions without panicking. Getting a good night's sleep is also very important to reducing stress. Stress can physically wear out a person's body, and without sleep, you will feel the effects of stress much more readily. This can lead to anxiety disorders very easily. To get enough sleep, make sure that you schedule at least 8 hours for sleeping. Don't eat or drink lots of sugar or caffeine products before bedtime and try to do relaxing activities in the few hours before bedtime. If necessary, see your doctor for help with sleeping problems. Another key to reducing stress is to schedule time for non-work related activities. Take vacations or at least days off in order to have fun. Work is a major cause of stress, and with that stress comes worry about money, health, and many other things. By setting aside specific time to enjoy yourself with loved ones or on your own, you can physically and mentally set aside the stress for at least a few hours. Try to have at least an hour to yourself every day and an entire long weekend every few months to purely enjoy fun activities. Lastly, work to reduce stress by learning to think a bit differently about life. Some of the most stressed-out people are perfectionists. While this can be a good trait, it can also go too far. Know when to let something go. Also, think positively about your life. When you worry that you aren't good enough or are upset about little things, they really add up to hurt you. Managing your thought process is just part of the battle, but if you work at reducing stress, you can avoid developing anxiety problems. Are Phobias Controlling your Life? According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), over 6 million Americans suffer from specific phobias. A specific phobia is an anxiety disorder that is based on a certain fear. These fears vary greatly from person to person and usually stem from experiences in childhood. Specific phobias go beyond being simply adverse to a certain object or situation and can actually cause panic attacks. Specific phobias can be difficult to diagnose in comparison to rational fears. There are six main criteria points that doctors use to diagnose specific phobias. First, the fear must be persistent and unfading. In some people, this fear may also be felt even if the object is not around or the situation is not happening, simple because it might be around or happen in the future. The second criteria that must be met for diagnosis is acute anxiety, sometimes even leading to a panic attack, when the object is around or the person is in the situations. Thirdly, the fear itself is irrational and excessive, because there is no immediate danger. Next, a person will start to avoid the object or situation, even if this disrupts daily life. Another criteria is that it disrupts life to the point where it interferes with normal daily functioning and a considerable amount of time is spent worrying about the phobia. Lastly, these symptoms are not attributed to another anxiety condition or disorder. Fears vary widely, but fall into five categories: animals, natural environments, blood and injury, situational, and other. In some cases, treatment is not necessary. For example, if you have a fear of airplanes, you can simply choose not to fly during your life. However, once the phobia begins to disrupt your functioning on a daily basis, you should see your doctor for treatment. Behavior therapy is usually the best treatment you can get for a specific phobia. With this process, the person is exposed to the object or situation, slowly at first, and with pictures or visualization. Virtual reality is also great for helping others to overcome specific phobias. It is simply important to seek help if a specific phobia is ruining your life. You can ask your doctor for tips to help you overcome a panic attack or ways in which to avoid objects or situations in healthy ways. While you may never be "cured" from your specific phobia, it is totally possible to let it go enough to be able to live your life normally on a day-to-day basis.
Coping Methods for Friends and Family Members of Those with Anxiety Disorders Patients who have anxiety disorders will often find that dealing with their medical condition, but people who love those with anxiety disorders many find coping even more difficult. If you yourself do not have an anxiety disorder, it may be difficult to understand another person, and yet you must still offer full support. Here are some methods you can deal with a friend or family member that has an anxiety disorder. First, learn all you can about anxiety disorders and your loved one's specific condition. Anxiety disorders range from slight to very severe and can be caused by a number of things. When you understand what causes a certain condition and how it is treated, you can better help your loved one. You can look up information on the Internet, talk to your love one's doctor or other medical professionals, read up on the latest news in professional journals and magazines, and purchase or borrow from the library books on the anxiety disorder affecting your. Knowledge about the subject will help you to understand the condition, even if you are not personally suffering from it. Another way to deal with a loved one's anxiety disorder is to join support groups. You may not benefit from a support group full of people who are suffering from the disorder, but you can absolutely look for support groups for family members of those suffering from anxiety disorders. If these sorts of support groups are not available, you can look for some devoted to friends and family members of people suffering from mental illnesses in general. Don't be afraid to start you own as well! There are millions of people suffering from anxiety disorders, each with loved ones who would benefit from a support group. Contact your local community center or hospital in order to check if support group meetings are being offered. When dealing with a loved one's anxiety disorder, it is also important to remember to take care of you own health as well. Helping someone who is dealing with any kind of medical condition, including a mental illness, can be emotionally draining and physically difficult. Don't be afraid to ask for your own medical help by talking to a doctor or therapist. The most important thing in your life should be your own physical, emotional, and mental health, because if you aren't at your best, you can't help anyone else with his or her medical problems either. OCD in the Home Obsessive-compulsive disorder, also known as OCD, is just one of the many kinds of anxiety disorders affecting millions of people around the world. People with OCD often find that they do specific rituals and these obsessions can make it very difficult to interact with people in public. However, if you stay home all the time, you are actually hurting yourself even more. There are many ways to OCD-proof your home in order to move forward with your treatment and with overcoming OCD in your life completely. First, you need to identify your obsessions. People obsess with everything from fear of dying to germs. Your obsessions will be the things you think about all the time, even when you wish you weren't thinking about them. Next, identify your compulsions. Compulsions will be things that you feel like you must do because of you obsessions. For example, you may feel like you need to clean you bathroom a certain number of times a day or say a phrase a certain number of times repeatedly. Knowing your specific obsessions and compulsions is not difficult, but it is nevertheless the first step to helping to improve your condition while at home. OCD might become a regular part of your life while you are at home where as you might be able to control yourself more readily when you are in public. Why? You may simply find it embarrassing to give in to your obsessions when you are around other people. That proves that you can actually have control, you just don't want to, for whatever reason, when you are at home. To combat this, invite friends into your home often. When your home becomes, essentially, a public place, you'll be less tempted to give in to your obsessions and compulsions, and over time your brain will be automatically programmed to perceive your home as somewhere where these activities are not ok. Another great way to combat OCD in the home is to purchase a stopwatch. Whenever you begin to obsess about something stop the watch, and when you're back in control, stop the watch. Do this throughout the day and then every night check out your total time for the day. You may be surprised about the time you've been wasting! Chart your progress and keep in mind this waste whenever you begin to obsess -- you could be doing more enjoyable things with your time. OCD affects everyone, not just you, so by stopping your OCD behavior in the home you can work on a positive step towards recovery for yourself and those around you. Cognitive-Behavior Therapy: Could it Work for You? Anxiety disorders can be very difficult medical conditions with which to live. However, if you are suffering from panic disorder, social phobias, generalize anxiety disorder, or any one of the number of other anxiety disorders, all is not lost. By talking to your doctor, you can get help controlling your symptoms and treating these disorders at the core. One form of treatment you can consider is cognitive-behavior therapy. Cognitive-behavior therapy is a combination of cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. With cognitive therapy, a person learns to understand and change their thoughts and beliefs. With behavioral therapy, a person learns to change specific actions. Combining these two therapies is not difficult and have provide anxiety disorder patients with the very best results. Cognitive therapy focuses mainly on patients recognizing certain things within themselves. Many people are confused about cognitive therapy -- it isn't about changing negative thoughts to positive thoughts in order to push for happiness. Instead isn't about changing destructing thoughts that are often repetitive and feed into anxiety to thoughts that are more easily controlled and do not trigger anxiety attacks. Behavior therapy, on the other hand, focuses on changing your actions instead. Relaxation and breathing exercises are common with behavioral therapy for anxiety disorder patients. Another type of behavioral therapy treatment commonly used is desensitization, which places patients in situations that cause anxiety gradually, in order to get used to the idea and control the anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy does not work well for absolutely everyone. While there are many people who can benefit from this form of treatment, there are others who will do better with other treatments. If you are considering cognitive-behavioral therapy, you need to meet two qualifications. First, you have to be motivated to change. If you are resistant to change, you won't do the work required to make cognitive-behavioral therapy work and recovery is not possible. Secondly, you need to have access to a therapist specially trained to deal with cognitive-behavioral therapy. Your doctor can help you find a professional in your area. In short, think about trying cognitive-behavioral therapy as a form of treatment for your anxiety disorders, even if nothing else has helped you. When you seek treatment, you put yourself on the right track for actually feeling better. Seeing a doctor and learning about all of your treatment options is the first step towards overcoming your anxiety disorder and controlling your life once again. More than a Worrywart Everybody worries from time to time, but if your worrying extends to interrupt your daily life and cause debilitating anxiety, you may have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD. While people with GAD may start out by worrying about simple things, this disorder can easily take over a person's life and cause other medical problems. If you think that you have GAD, you should see your doctor immediately and talk about your various treatment options. People with GAD worry about normal things like money, healthy, relationships, and jobs. It is normal to worry about these things, even on a daily basis. However, if you have GAD, you will find that this worry is constant and excessive -- and in many cases, irrational. People who are diagnosed with GAD are often so distracted and consumed with worry that it is impossible to think about or do anything else. From the moment a patient awakes to the moment he or she falls asleep, worry is a part of life. Often times, the worry has no foundation. Medical professionals do not yet know what causes GAD, so treatment and diagnosis can sometimes be difficult. There are a number of symptoms stemming from GAD which include nausea, difficulty breathing, muscle tension, headache, restlessness, fatigue, sleeping problems, a change in appetite, and sweating or hot flashes. If you are experiencing some of these symptoms and find yourself worrying often, you should see your doctor for help with what could be GAD. Treatment for GAD begins with ruling out other anxiety disorders. Therefore, it is crucial for you to be very specific about your symptoms. Treatment that works well can than include both therapy and medication. Every person worries in a different way, so every person needs different treatment as well. You should work together with your doctor to find the best form of medical treatment for your specific GAD situations. Work with your own body's wants and needs. No matter why you've developed GAD, there is help. Most people suffering from GAD do not know that there can be help. If you are constantly consumed with worry, talk to your doctor immediately to find out how medical treatment can help you. From having enough money to pay for bills to getting that job promotion, you may feel as though there is always something to worry about. In a normal life, you may think about these things once or twice a day, and a doctor can help you achieve this, even if you have GAD. All About Agoraphobia There are many different anxiety disorders a person could develop. These disorders are usually characterized by intense anxiety leading to panic attacks. Under the umbrella of anxiety disorders fall the category of phobias, which as intense and irrational fears that lead to panic. Agoraphobia is one such fear a person could have, and it is the most commonly treated phobia in the mental health world. It may not be the most common, but its symptoms are severe enough that treatment is almost always necessary. Agoraphobia is the fear of leaving one's home or safe area and venturing into the outside world. It is also found in combination with other phobias or obsessive-compulsive disorder. People suffering from agoraphobia usually have panic attacks when they feel unsafe, and these unsafe feelings include when the person is trapped, out of control, or too far from a personal comfort zone. Many people suffering from agoraphobia are confined to their homes or even to a specific room in their home. There are many misconceptions surrounding people with agoraphobia. First of all, agoraphobia is not a fear of open spaces, nor is it a fear of crowded spaces. While these conditions may exist within a person as well, agoraphobia is specifically a fear of being too far from a normal area, regardless of the crowd. Many people welcome visitors into their home, even if they themselves do not leave. Agoraphobics usually simply need to be in complete control of a situation. Agoraphobia can affect any person, regardless of gender, age, religion, race, ethnicity, or economic status. The disorder is about twice as common among women than among men, however. The conditions usually begins with generalized panic attacks or slight phobias, and develops into a more and more serious condition. Thankfully, treatment is available. A gradual process of exposure is usually recommended, along with anti-anxiety medication including benzodiazepines like alprazolam. Anti-depressants can also be used. Some therapists will make house calls to help patients with agoraphobia, and alternative treatments like hypnosis are becoming more and more popular in the medical world as a treatment for agoraphobia and other anxiety conditions. A number of famous people have suffered from agoraphobia in the past, including celebrity chef Paula Dean, actress Kim Basinger, director Woody Allen, and Nobel laureate for literature Elfriede Jelinek. The key here, however, is to realize that there is hope. If you suffer from agoraphobia, ask for help and you can begin the healing process. Live and Learn: Anxiety Disorder Knowledge Anxiety disorders are varied an include agoraphobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, specific phobias, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and a number of other medical conditions. Most people do not learn about anxiety disorder normally, so it is important to put effort into learning about anxiety disorders if you or a loved one is diagnosed with one of these medical conditions. The first place you can start when looking for information about anxiety disorders is, of course, you medical professional. If you think that you may have a problem with anxiety to the point where it is disrupting your life, you should see a doctor immediate and describe your symptoms. Your doctor will run tests and check your health in order to make a diagnosis, and be sure to save enough time during your appointment to ask questions about you anxiety disorder and your treatment options. If you feel rushed, make sure that you make another appointment in order to go over your anxiety disorder. If you doctor seems too rushed to talk to you, you are probably better off finding a new doctor who will be able to help you. Once you leave your doctor's office, don't go home -- hit the library. There are hundreds of books devoted to anxiety disorders and you can find general information here, that has probably already been covered by your doctor, as well as specific information, including theories on the causes of anxiety disorders and the best treatment options. Along with the books you'll find at the library, you will also find medical journals and magazine, which will provide you with the most up to date information in the medical community regarding anxiety disorders. At home, you can continue your education online. The Internet is a wonderful resource when it comes to research just about any topic, including anxiety disorders. You can do this without leaving the home, which is an advantage to people who are suffering from anxiety disorders that are not yet under control. The Internet also allows you to connect to others dealing with the same conditions or in the health care world through email, forums, and chat rooms. However, remember that the information you find on the Internet may not always be the most accurate. Anyone can post on the Internet, from someone with a Ph.D. to your mailman. No matter how you chose to research your anxiety disorder, it is simply important that you do so. Only when you have all of the information available to you can you truly be able to totally make the best decisions for your body. Treating Anxiety: Otherwise Known as Changing your Life Anxiety disorders affect millions of people across the country and include disorders like social phobia, specific phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. However, these disorders do not need to rule your life. If you think that you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, it is important to see you doctor right away. Treatment can truly change your life. The first step to treatment is getting diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. There are a number of symptoms associated with anxiety disorders that can also be caused by other medical conditions, and if you want to be get the best treatment possible it is first crucial to diagnose you exact condition. Your health care professional is the person who can do this. Make sure that you tell him or her specifically what symptoms you are experiences, and then you will go through a complete physical examination and testing to see if there are any other medical conditions that could be causing your problems. A correct diagnosis will help you get the best care. There are then a number of treatment options you can use to help you overcome your anxiety disorders. First, you can try talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy. This allows you to tell your problems to a psychiatrist who actually cares about you and wants to help you. There are a number of different talk therapies you can use. For example, some people like cognitive behavior therapy, which replaces old behavior with new behavior slowly with steps. This is often great for phobias. You can also try psychodynamic therapy, in which case your professional will help you to look at the underlying causes of your condition so that you can understand how to better control your life. There are other kinds of talk therapy treatments as well. Choose the one that works best for you in order to get the right help for your condition. Remember, every person is different; what works well for someone else may not work well for your. Medications are also a great step in the right direction for treating anxiety disorders. Meditation can help to block certain overactive inhibitors in the brain that may be causing your anxiety disorder. They can also treat the symptoms that you find unbearable. In general, you should make sure that a medication works for you and your body before taking it on a regular basis. There are side effects to some medications that may hurt your body more than the medication is actually helping you. You can also try non-traditional forms of treatment for you anxiety disorders. Some people can control their bodies simply by learning meditation and doing yoga, for example if you are experiencing panic attacks. You can also try acupuncture and acupressure to deal with your physical problems. Another great type of treatment, especially for phobias, is hypnosis. Your doctor can recommend to you these treatments and give you more information on what will work best for you. Panic Attacks: How to Prepare If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, panic attacks may be a part of your life. Even with proper medication, many patients suffer from panic attacks. Although predicting when a panic attack will happen may be a bit tricky, you can take steps to prepare for these panic attacks in order to take back control of your life. The first step to taking back that control is to learn to breathe. When a person has a panic attack, often they feel so overwhelmed that they forget to simply breathe properly. Many doctors, therefore, advocating safe breathing practices in order to help calm anyone having a panic attack. In fact, if you've ever had a panic attack in public, someone may have tried to get you to breath into a paper bag. This may or may be a good method for you, but the fact is that you should know and practice your breathing exercise before you are panicking. Have a plan -- learn calming breathing techniques and practice at least twice a day. Other relaxing practices may also be able to help your panic attack. Of course, you might find it difficult to even consider meditation when you're having a panic attack, but by learning this relaxing procedure, you can use some of the same calming techniques that help you to meditate to help you calm down. Another great way to prepare for a panic attack is to simply know your triggers. Do you have a specific phobia? Is excess stress your downfall? Do certain situations seem impossible for you? When you know what triggers panic reactions, you can do your best to avoid or minimize these situations. You should also be medically prepared for a panic attack. When you go outside of the home, take with you a list of emergency contacts, which should include your doctor's number, your local crisis hotline, and members of your personal support systems. You can use these phone numbers yourself if you feel a panic attack starting, or another person will easily find this information in your purse or wallet if you are not capable of helping yourself. Also take with you a bag to help you feel comfortable and calm down during a panic attack. A crucial part of the bag is any medications you may be taking, along with instructions on taking it. You can also include any items from home that will help you feel more comfortable. This can include herbal tea, a stuffed animal, religious items, photos, rubber bands to snap on your wrist, mints, hand cream, money, a puzzle book, and anything else that may help you relax, stimulated your brain, or distract yourself. Remember, comfort is key. Alternative Anxiety Therapies If you've been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, it is crucial for you to seek medical treatment. This is the first step to recovery. Anxiety disorders include medical conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, agoraphobia, and panic disorder. When you talk to your doctor about your conditions, he or she will probably recommend certain talk therapies, in which you work with a therapist and cognitive-behavioral therapy to overcome your disorder. You may also be recommended to take specific medications. However, there are also a number of other therapies that you can consider to help you overcome your anxiety disorder. If you are interested in oral medications, there are a number of supplements that may be able to help with your anxiety. Supplements are generally more naturally than the chemicals found in medications, so you body may be less likely to react to them in an adverse way. However, it is important to remember that supplements can still be dangerous if abuse. Common supplements that can be used to treat anxiety disorders include passion fruit, passionflower, kava, valerian root, St. John's wort, hops, chamomile, magnesium, and glycine. Your doctor can instruct you taking these supplements in a safe way. If you have very low anxiety symptoms, you can also work by yourself to combat the development of full-blown anxiety disorders. First, get a proper diet. This will include all the nutrients you body needs to stay active and healthy. Reduce the amounts of caffeine and sugar you ingest to help with anxiety. Also make sure that you are getting both sleep and exercise. This can help you manage stress more readily. If you believe you may be developing an anxiety disorder, trying to use stress management skills is very important. Many people also advocate that alcohol is a great tool for combating anxiety. Typically, patients with anxiety disorders feel stimulated, so alcohol, which is a depressant, can really help you to calm down. However, the disadvantage to this is that alcohol also can make you become intoxicated and anxiety is sometimes found in conjunction with depression, which alcohol will only cause to get worse. Therefore, this is usually not a good option, unless your doctor recommends it. Techniques like hypnosis, virtual reality use, acupuncture, and meditation can also help patients deal with anxiety. While these alternative treatment options do not help everyone, they may be able to help you. Be sure to ask your doctor about all treatment options available so that you can make the best choices for your body. Understanding OCD Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is one of the more widely known types of anxiety disorders, but in actuality, few people understand how it works. People with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, aren't crazy. They simply have persistent behaviors that upset their daily lives. OCD ranges from very mild to severe, and some have even suggested that everyone has OCD, but it is simply a matter of controlling your thoughts and actions so that you can live a normal life. OCD, as its name implies, has two main components -- the obsession and the compulsion. The obsession is usually a fear or desire, such as the fear to contamination or the desire to be perfect. The compulsion is the repetitive behavior that is a result of the obsession. For example, someone with the fear that a loved one will die may feel a compulsion to always count everything to a certain number. They irresistibly feel as though their loved one will somehow die if they do not count to this number. Obsessions and compulsions can sometimes be relieved with rituals, which may help to temporarily relieve the stress. Although many people will joke that they "have OCD" when they are nit-picky about cleaning or do something odd, sever OCD is truly no laughing matter. A person who suffers severely from this conditions will probably not be able to work, go to school, live alone, drive, or even go out in public. OCD is chronic, although many people try to hide their symptoms from others and stop the compulsions at the very least. Most people with OCD understand that they are being irrational, but they just can't help it. What causes OCD to develop in the first place? While many originally thought it was due to childhood environmental conditions, it is now reported that a specific neurological problem may be the cause. More than one factor is probably at work here and although there are treatments, there are no known cures to OCD. Getting help, however, is very important. With medication, behavioral therapy, and counseling, patients with OCD can truly start to lead somewhat normal lives one again. Talking to your doctor about your OCD concerns is the first step to controlling your life and health. At the very least, talk to a friend. He or she may be able to help you take the right steps toward treating your OCD. This disorder can be devestating, but with a little hard work, one can overcome OCD. Anxiety and Suicide Anxiety disorders affect millions of people across the country, and one of the most dangerous things about these disorders is that they can lead to thoughts of suicide if left untreated. If you are currently having thoughts of suicide, even on an occasional basis, ask for help. You can do this by calling a doctor or just talking to friends and family members who may be able to help you. Anxiety disorders are not the end of your life -- you can overcome them. If you're having thoughts of suicide, there is nothing other people can do to make you feel better about yourself. However, they can give you the tools needed to do that. Lots of people kill themselves every year using suicidal methods like hanging, shooting, cutting, and overdosing, but these deaths are a real shame, since every single person has value in the community. You may feel hopeless right now, but there are people who can show you how to feel better. Although it is very difficult to deal with anxiety, others have gone through the same thing and can teach you methods for overcoming. Call 9-1-1 or your local suicide hotline immediately if you are having thoughts of injuring yourself, for whatever reason. You are not alone in this ordeal, or else these phone lines would not exist. You can call anonymously in order to simply talk to someone about your problems. There is no pressure to do or not do anything -- it is simply a tool to talk to someone and hear new ideas. Pain and sadness is normal in every single person's life, although many people hide it very well. However, if you find that your anxiety disorder is causing too much pain for you to bear, you can do one of two things: work to reduce the pain or work to increase your skills and resources for dealing with the pain. Although you may feel alone right now, millions of people are getting the help they need and living happy lives. If nothing else, take some time to think about things. Even if you've had a horrible day, give yourself a few hours or days or even weeks to make a decision on ending your life. In that time, consider all of the options available to you and think about the other people your suicide will hurt. Suicide is not the answer to relief from pain in most cases, so by truly examining your feelings, you can work towards happier days.
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