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Family Guidance Blog

Anxiety Disorder Can Wear Many Faces Yet Shares Similar Symptoms

Anxiety Disorder is a Leading Mental Health Condition Worldwide

anxiety disorderMost people have felt it. That momentary flood of fear when the blood is pulsing so rapidly that you seem to feel and hear it. Maybe you were in a near car wreck or perhaps you experienced turbulence during an airplane ride. Anxiety is a normal reaction to situations where someone feels immediately threatened. Yet, for some, anxiety can strike at a time when the threat of danger is minimal or even non-existent and turn into an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorder is a leading mental health condition worldwide, but it is not a one-size-fits-all condition. There are six distinct types of anxiety disorder used in diagnosis: generalized anxiety, social anxiety, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), panic disorder and phobias. Anxiety may strike under different conditions and situations for each person, yet many times the experience shares similar symptoms: rapid breathing, sweating, pounding heart, edginess or trouble sleeping.

Many people attempt to manage anxiety on their own, usually by trying to avoid people and situations which trigger anxiety. This may not be effective in the long-term. That doesn’t mean that a person must live with uncontrolled anxiety disorder, however. There are steps you can work with a mental health professional on to help manage your symptoms. Lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation and reduced caffeine intake can help. It’s also helpful to actively build a positive support network. These relationships will not only provide comfort and security, but they can help you cope with situations which threaten to trigger anxiety.

If you are experiencing problem anxiety, it’s important that you know that you are far from alone. The steps mentioned above can be useful but it is also important to talk with a mental health professional. They can help you learn positive coping strategies for those times when anxiety threatens and guide you through expanding your boundaries so that anxiety doesn’t hold you in its paralyzing grip and keep you from enjoying life. We encourage you to contact us at Family Guidance Center and learn how to stop anxiety from being a controlling influence in your life.

Social Anxiety is More Than Feeling Nervous

Ignoring Social Anxiety Can Lead to Other Mental Health Challenges

social anxietyWhile most people feel nervous or even scared to be in front of a group of people, those feelings are not the same as social anxiety. Worry about how you’ll appear to others or how you will perform in front of others is a common and natural emotion. Social anxiety includes those things, but it goes beyond the infrequent butterflies of social demands. Anxiety goes hand in hand with the overwhelming conviction that you will fail or be judged negatively. It isn’t just worry, it’s the inner certainty that somehow you just are not good enough.

For the person with this form of anxiety, the fear of experiencing failure or rejection is overpowering enough to cause physical symptoms like sweating, headaches, rapid heartbeat, muscle twitching, stomach ache or dizziness. Those symptoms, while unpleasant don’t seem overly concerning in themselves, however, the desire to avoid them is what makes this kind of anxiety problematic.

The desire to avoid such experiences often leads a person to withdraw from healthy social interaction. If you are dreading every place where you might become the center of attention, you find ways to escape those situations. Pretty soon, you begin avoiding situations where you might be noticed. The social isolation frequently leads to depression.

Social anxiety is not a rare condition. It affects 15 million adult Americans. The symptoms usually begin around age 13 – a time when insecurities are common. More than one-third of those with social anxiety wait 10 years or longer to seek out help. By then, the condition has usually become highly disruptive in terms of everyday living.

If your fear of being judged harshly seems to control where you go and what you do, it’s time to do something about it. Call the Family Guidance Center, we can help. Ignoring your anxiety will only make things worse.

Dealing with Social Anxiety During a Busy Holiday Season

While many people look forward to the busy schedule of glitzy holiday parties and get-togethers, for thoseHoliday Stress 1 with social anxiety it can be a season of difficult situations. If you are a person who dreads rather than anticipates social occasions you may be affected by social anxiety disorder. Here are some coping strategies to help you get through the holiday season if you live with social anxiety:

  • Be Selective
    You don’t have to attend every event to which you are invited. Choose the ones where you’ll feel most comfortable and graciously decline the rest. However, responding “yes” to a few social events is good as you connect with others on a small scale.
  • Be Healthy
    Eat right, get regular sleep and exercise often. These healthful habits will strengthen you toward overcoming stress and anxiety.
  • Be Prepared
    Not knowing what to say can be a big part of social anxiety. Spend some time catching up on current events or informing yourself about the hobbies and interests of your host or fellow guests before a social event.
  • Be Early
    Another factor in social anxiety is dread of being the object of attention. To help with anxiety over this arrive at events early.
  • Be Sober
    Drinking to calm anxiety can lead to deeper anxiety. Try deep-breathing and positive self-talk instead.
  • Attend With a Friend
    If you ask someone to accompany you and be your support at social functions it can make attending much less of an uncertainty.

At Family Guidance Center, we understand social anxiety and can help you learn positive skills for overcoming the paralysis of fear. You can come in at any point during the holiday season and start gaining control over the negative thinking that keeps you from enjoying social interactions.

Your Child’s Anxiety Disorder and School

Anxiety 2Although childhood should be a carefree time of innocence and enjoyment, for many it is a time of fretfulness and worry. The number of children and adolescents dealing with an anxiety disorder has risen steadily over the past three decades until today one out of eight kids are expected to struggle with disordered anxiety (Anxiety and Depression Association of America). Around one quarter of adolescents will likely experience some degree of anxiety disorder (National Institute of Mental Health) and two to five percent of younger children will have anxiety so severe that they refuse to attend school or repeatedly get themselves sent home.

Beyond Common Anxiety
School anxiety is more than worrying about an upcoming quiz, having nerves before a track meet or wondering about who likes you. Disordered anxiety persists beyond what would be considered a reasonable or common time frame and extends into multiple facets of school life. It negatively affects the students’ ability to concentrate, learn and perform on a regular basis.

Red Flags
Signs that your child may be struggling with excessive anxiety include repeated, unexplained health complaints such as headache or stomach upset. These complaints could be genuine effects of continual high anxiety, or they could be invented excuses for avoiding school. The child may complain to parents hoping to stay home or to the school nurse hoping to be sent home. Some kids will even drop out of high school and earn an equivalency rather than face the stress of attending classes.

What Parents Can Do
You can’t make your child’s anxieties disappear, but there are things you can do. For starters, acknowledge your child’s fears without letting them dictate behavior (such as staying home). Next, focus on positives about school – events, funny teachers, a science field trip. Your own attitude toward school is more important than you realize. The brain is wired to replay what it absorbs from the surroundings. In other words, your child is continually reading and reflecting your attitudes.

Finally, your child will benefit from learning to recognize and cope with fears and stress. At Family Guidance, we understand how an anxiety disorder affects your child and your family. And we know how to help. Call us today.

Depression and Anxiety Can Be Childhood Companions

16733828_mWhen most of us think about our childhood memories, we recall digging in sandboxes and playing on swings – not worrying about issues of money, crime, or self-achievement. However, that is not the reality for all children. In fact, according to Rinad Beidas, a professional clinician at Temple University’s Child And Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Clinic, anxiety disorders can affect as many as 12 percent of kids aged 7 to 17.

The Child And Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Temple University consists of a team of eight experts who specialize specifically in the treatment of anxiety disorders among children. They focus not on the general issues of self-esteem and emotional transition that many youngsters go through, but rather crippling anxiety and fear that impairs normal, everyday functioning. Common to the clinic are children with persistent separation anxiety that is not age-appropriate and debilitating social anxiety which prevents children from basic interaction.

Beidas says the children they see process things like adults. Third-grade patients, for instance, may already be consumed with whether or not they will be accepted into college. According to a report from the Armenian Medical Network, it’s not uncommon for children to reflect the anxiety of their parents, so if mom or dad is constantly nervous or uneasy, children may feel that way too.

Many children also experience depression. The National Institutes of Mental Health reports that up to 8.3 percent of teens and 2.5 percent of younger children will become familiar with clinical depression of some type. NIMH also reveals that childhood depression can continue into adulthood if it doesn’t receive attention.

Dr. Kendall, Temple Clinic’s Director, says the reality is that these issues exist and will persist if left untreated. But childhood anxiety and depression are highly treatable. Through cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT), anxiety patients at the Temple Clinic have seen a 72 percent success rate.

Learn the facts about childhood anxiety and depression. Through support from mental health professionals at the Family Guidance Center, children can learn life skills and proper coping mechanisms to aid in handling stressful, real-life situations. A professional assessment of symptoms and an accurate diagnosis is the first step toward a treatment plan that can help a child return to well-being.