What is anxiety?
Anxiety is the body’s natural response to a perceived or real threat, what we often call stress. However, if you experience prolonged anxiety, you may have an anxiety disorder, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD is characterized by frequent worries about a variety of subjects occurring more days than not, and can be accompanied by physical changes such as restlessness, rapid heart beat, irritability, difficulty with concentration, or difficulty sleeping.
What causes anxiety?
Our bodies are programmed to mobilize us to escape a threat when we feel fear. The emotion of fear is the body’s way of telling us to run, hide, or freeze. However, in our modern lives we may feel fear about a variety of threats that are not imminent or that we cannot run from, such as paying our bills, navigating a conflict with a friend, or worrying about the future.
Neurological causes of anxiety
These are only some of the causes of anxiety. Neurologically, anxiety is caused by having an overactive amygdala. The amygdala is the part of our brain responsible for sensing threat. It’s like the brain’s alarm center. When our amygdala is overactive we can feel scared, anxious, or threatened even if there is no credible threat.
How is anxiety treated?
Because anxiety is physiological as well as emotional, it is important that treatment takes into account our physical bodies as well as our feelings. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) treats anxiety by helping clients make the connection between their thoughts and their behaviors, and helps people change their thoughts to ultimately lead them to feeling better. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of CBT specifically tailored to treating anxiety.
Many people with anxiety also benefit from somatic (body-focused) therapies, such as EMDR and Brainspotting, which get to the route of the problem and help eliminate the causes of anxiety at their core. I like to explore with my clients what is the route of the anxiety and work from there. When treating anxiety I work with my clients to see which of these tools works best for them. Whether it’s DBT, CBT, EMDR, or Brainspotting, or a combination of these, we work together to find the solution to alleviate the client’s anxiety.
Is there hope for me?
Yes! I have worked with many clients who came to my office for the first time riddled with paralyzing anxiety, only to see the anxiety melt away as our work progressed. If you’re struggling with anxiety, therapy may help tremendously. Together we will work together to uncover the root of your anxiety and begin finding ways to reduce it as soon as possible.