What is an anxiety disorder?
Anxiety is classified as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease that usually occurs in anticipation of a future threat of some kind (real or perceived). Fear is classified as an emotional response to a real or perceived immediate threat. People experience anxiety and fear for a variety of reasons.
There are different types of anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders differ from each other in the types of objects or situations that create fear or anxiety. When fear or anxiety is excessive or lasts for long periods of time (typically 6 months or longer), it is usually best to seek treatment.
Some of the most common types of anxiety disorders include:
Specific Phobia: occurs when someone is fearful or anxious about or avoidant of circumscribed objects or situations (such as flying, heights, spiders, seeing blood)
Social Anxiety Disorder: occurs when someone is fearful or anxious about social situations, such as having a conversation, meeting unfamiliar people, or performing in front of others
Panic Disorder: occurs when someone experiences recurrent panic attacks that seem to come on out of the blue, and cause the person to start worrying about having additional panic attacks or to change their behavior in some way
Agoraphobia: occurs when someone experiences fear or anxiety about using public transportation, being in open spaces, being in enclosed places, standing in line or being in a crowd, or being outside of the home alone
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: occurs when someone is very anxious and worried about a number of events or activities more days than not and they find it hard to control their worries
How are anxiety disorders treated?
Although there are different types of anxiety disorders, all have proven to be responsive to Cognitive Behavioral and Mindfulness-Based Therapies.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most widely-used therapy for anxiety disorders. CBT addresses negative patterns and distortions in the way we look at the world and ourselves. As the name suggests, this involves two main components:
Cognitive therapy examines how negative thoughts (cognitions) contribute to anxiety.
Behavior therapy examines how you behave and react in situations that trigger anxiety.
The basic premise of CBT is that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all related to one another. the way we feel. The goal is to change our thoughts or our behaviors so that our feelings can change in return, thereby reducing our anxiety.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a modified form of cognitive therapy that incorporates mindfulness practices, such as meditation, with cognitive therapy. Just like in CBT, MBCT teaches you how to break away from negative thought patterns. The difference in MBCT is that you learn how to change your relationship with your thoughts and emotions by watching them come and go, rather than getting wrapped up in them. Meditation can rebalance neural networks in your brain, which allows you to move away from automatic negative responses toward an understanding that there are other ways to respond to situations.
Dr. Moshfegh is trained and certified in both CBT and MBCT and has years of experience treating individuals with anxiety disorders. Reach out today for more information on how Dr. Moshfegh can assist you in obtaining relief from your anxiety symptoms.