The ABC’s of Anxiety
We specialize in helping people who are struggling with overwhelming anxiety. Here is an overview of some of the many forms that significant anxiety can manifest in.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a common mental health condition, often co-occurring with major depressive disorder. GAD involves excessive, chronic anxiety or worry about a broad range of concerns (relationships, jobs, health etc). In addition, it typically includes restlessness, fatigue, irritability, poor concentration and insomnia. A major behavior that fuels anxiety in GAD is “worrying”. This is a generic term so let’s be specific: repetitive problem solving thinking that involves trying to figure out abstract, vague problems (e.g. “what if this terrible thing happens…” or “how do I know that I am capable of handling this terrible situation”). The goal of this type of thinking is to problem solve AND to currently feel more assured that “it’s going to be ok”.
At Spectrum CBT, we integrate traditional cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) with somatic approaches including biofeedback, breathing exercises, guided imagery training and progressive muscle relaxation. Through CBT we target the underlying beliefs and thinking patterns (i.e. worrying) that give energy and fuel to anxiety. An emerging new CBT approach is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and at Spectrum we use ACT extensively to address strategies to deal with fear-triggering thoughts. Extensive research exists demonstrating the effectiveness of traditional CBT and ACT in the treatment of GAD. The somatic training provides alternative coping skills for managing worry and anxiety.
Social Anxiety Disorder (also described as social phobia) involves excessive and overwhelming fear in situations where people perceive that they are being watched and judged by others. The anxiety involves blushing, stammering, difficulty talking, nausea, excessive sweating, trembling. Because of the anxiety, people avoid situations such as parties, eating, drinking or writing in public, speaking in public, using public restrooms.
The goal of treatment is to help individuals manage and reduce their anxiety in these situations. We integrate CBT with graded exposure techniques that are not generic but specifically tailored to improving your situation. We blend this with cognitive strategies such as guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation and assertiveness training. In addition, we also use techniques derived from meditative practices to help individuals cope with triggering situations and thoughts.
Panic disorder refers to frequent panic attacks that include intense fear, often striking out of the blue, resulting in a strong fight-or-flight response including pounding heart, shallow breathing, feeling faint, sweaty, weak, or dizzy. You may feel a tingling or numbness in your hands and you might feel flushed or chilled. Nausea, chest pain, a sense of unreality, or fear of impending doom or loss of control are also common during a panic attack.
Spectrum uses graded progressive exposure therapy while also working on strengthening your current coping skills. Therapist and client work together to move treatment at a pace that works for you and gets your life back on track. Your mind and body learn how to withstand waves of intense panic without "snowballing" - a process where people, in trying to cope with the panic attack, inadvertently trigger panic to become more intense and/or last longer. Our approach helps you and your body adjust your intrinsic fight-or-flight system so that it does not “fire up” as often or as intensely.