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Anxiety - page header image

Anxiety

Anxiety - page header image

Anxiety

Anxiety

Anxiety is a general term that describes a feeling of worry, concern, or uneasiness. Anxiety is a common emotion and often occurs in response to stress. In some cases, anxiety is helpful. It can help alert us to danger or prepare for an upcoming event. Usually anxiety is short-term and will fade over time, especially as the initial stressor goes away. However, when anxiety becomes excessive, chronic, or uncontrollable and affects quality of life, then an individual may be experiencing an anxiety disorder. While anxiety disorders are common in children, adolescents and adults, treatment can help individuals feel better and lead more healthy lives.

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Types of Anxiety Disorders

There are several types of anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common. While GAD may initially look like “regular” anxiety, it is characterized by excessive worry about multiple topics, even things an individual might not be able to pinpoint or specifically name. To meet criteria for a diagnosis, the anxiety must cause impairment in day to day functioning and last at least six months.

Other types of specific anxiety disorders are:

  • Specific phobia
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • Separation anxiety disorder
  • Selective mutism

There are also a number of other anxiety-related disorders that can affect an individual. Some of these include:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Trichotillomania (hair-picking)
  • Excoriation (Skin-picking)
  • Adjustment disorders

General Symptoms of Anxiety

Symptoms of anxiety can vary for each person and each specialized type of the disorder, but here are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
  • Having difficulty controlling worry
  • Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety

Signs of Anxiety in Children and Adolescents

Anxiety in children can vary from person to person and may show up in different ways. Below are some of the more common signs in children to be aware of:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Being clingy to a particular person or caregivers
  • Tantrums/ increased irritability
  • Complaining of headache or stomachaches
  • Avoiding stressful situations such as school or extracurricular activities
  • Trouble focusing or concentrating in class
  • Appearing fidgety or restless
  • Trouble making decisions

Anxiety in adolescents can appear different as compared to younger children. While younger children tend to worry more about externalizing factors (such as going to the doctor, loud sounds, monsters, the dark, or something bad happening to parents), adolescents tend to worry more about themselves (such as their performance, appearance, or how they are perceived by others.) For some adolescents, their anxiety may manifest via perfectionism, increased irritability, a decline in grades, withdrawal from social situations, extreme sensitivity to criticism, or substance use. It’s important to note that for many adolescents they also experience depression while experiencing anxiety.

How We Can Help with Anxiety

There are many effective approaches to help improve anxiety. Our providers are trained to help children, teens, and adults (including parents!) decrease anxiety and improve their quality of life. While there are multiple types of therapies that can help improve symptoms, research has shown that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is very effective in helping to combat anxiety. CBT is a structured psychological treatment which involves working with one of our providers to identify thought and behavior patterns that are contributing to anxiety. Our providers are solution-focused and can also suggest lifestyle modifications to alleviate anxiety, such as exercise, breathing exercises, progressive relaxation, relaxing visualization, etc. Research has also shown that a combination of therapy and psychotropic medications may be beneficial. WFP also offers a variety of groups to help individuals improve their coping skills and decrease anxiety.

 

 

 

Anxiety Resources & Articles

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Most new clients are scheduled for their first full appointment at the Cary, Raleigh, or Greensboro, NC office locations within one to two weeks of calling. We also offer telehealth for those who prefer to have virtual sessions from home, school, or the office.

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