Anxious feelings are common and often occur in every one of us. Taking a test, interviewing for a job or dealing with a problem at home are all challenging situations that may cause fear, anxiety and nervousness. These are normal responses that sharpen awareness and help prepare us for these situations.
But when these feelings interfere with daily activities, they become a serious problem - an anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and phobias are all types of anxiety disorders. While the intensity and pattern of symptoms are somewhat different for each of these conditions, anxiety is common to all of them. It's important to remember that anxiety disorders are medical conditions that can be treated.
Identifying anxiety disorders
Many people with anxiety disorders do not seek treatment because they don't think their symptoms can be treated. Or, they may fear what others might think of them if they seek treatment. As a result, anxiety disorders can go undetected for long periods of time. If you or someone you know is experiencing the symptoms described in this brochure, it is important to seek help so proper treatment can be started.
Generalized anxiety disorder
People who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) have excessive levels of emotional and physical distress. People with GAD can not relax or stop worrying. Symptoms of general anxiety disorder include:
- Physical symptoms for which no organic cause can be found, such as:
- Stomach problems
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pounding heart
- Shortness of breath
- Need to urinate often
- Hot or cold flashes
- Dry mouth
- Muscle tension
- Being easily fatigued or having no energy
- Feelings of helplessness, restlessness, feeling on edge or “keyed up”
- Difficulty concentrating and having periods of “going blank”
- Sleep disturbances, including difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep
The symptoms of GAD can be overwhelming and can lead to difficulties at work and with friends and family.
A phobia is a persistent, intense and unreasonable fear of a specific object or situation. Phobias cause reactions and anxiety symptoms that result in an avoidance of objects or situations in which the phobia is triggered. As a result, the person's daily functioning at work, in social situations and with families and friends can be severely disrupted.
Phobias can include fears of:
- High places/heights (acrophobia)
- Being in places or situations in which escape might be difficult, such as in a crowd (agoraphobia)
- Enclosed spaces (claustrophobia)
- Leaving home (agoraphobia)
- Being watched or humiliated while doing something in front of others (social phobia)
- Specific objects
- Traveling on a bus, train, airplane or in a car
Panic disorder is characterized by repeated, unexpected, sudden and intense fear or discomfort that is not based on a real threat. Often mistaken for serious physical problems, symptoms of a panic attack can include:
- Heart palpitations and pounding or racing heart
- Trembling or shaking
- Sensations of smothering or shortness of breath
- Choking feeling
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded or faint
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Chills or hot flushes
People experiencing panic attacks often fear they are dying. When panic attacks begin to occur with some frequency, the person might begin to avoid situations in which an attack could be triggered. Such avoidant behaviors can severely restrict the person’s work and personal activities.
How We Can Help
Often associated with depression, effective treatment of anxiety disorders requires careful diagnosis and multidisciplinary treatment. Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias and related depression are treatable problems. In combination with medication, our approach teaches individuals struggling with an anxiety disorder new ways of managing symptoms and changing behavior patterns to reduce symptoms. Reducing the symptoms of anxiety, panic disorder and/or phobias doesn't have to take years. Our treatment team can intervene with proven techniques to bring about change in a matter of weeks.
The first step to successful treatment begins with a comprehensive assessment of the patient's condition. Information is gathered about the patient's symptoms, life stressors, physical problems, when the symptoms started and how the symptoms have been handled to date. The patient's family background, medical history and other important information will also be evaluated. Next, an individualized treatment plan is developed. While medication is often an important component of treatment, the combination of behavioral therapy and other treatment methods along with medication has
About the Anxiety Disorders Treatment Team
Our multidisciplinary team is committed to providing comprehensive care in a compassionate setting. The team includes psychiatrists, psychologists specializing in biofeedback and stress management, and clinical social workers. We address the complex needs of individuals struggling with the symptoms of anxiety disorders in a supportive and structured way. Such an approach can help patients reclaim their lives.
In addition, financial counselors are available to help with questions about insurance coverage. Many health benefit plans will cover the cost of an evaluation and treatment for anxiety disorders. We'd be happy to help you assess your coverage.
Please call 216.636.5860 or 866.588.2264 to set up an assessment. If you're uncertain about whether or not an assessment is appropriate, a nurse at this number can talk to you about your concerns and help you decide what to do.