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         May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Anxiety Disorders

We all feel occasional anxiety. It is a normal part of life. We might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. Not all states of arousal, though, are anxiety. Think of the athlete before a competition: some arousal is desirable, useful and expected.

Every year, 3.1% of the population will experience anxiety. Over a lifetime, it will be 15%

Anxiety disorders, however, involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships. There are several different types of anxiety disorders. 

In any given year, over 3% of Americans experience an anxiety episode and up to 15 % of people in the United States have anxiety disorders at some time during their lifetime.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The most common anxiety-producing self-talk is the   what-if question

In generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), the person will have frequent episodes of excessive worrying, of doom and mental restlessness (“My mind is always racing”), often associated with difficulty falling asleep (“I can’t shut my mind off”). The main complaint of people with an anxiety disorder is frequent thinking about worst case scenarios and catastrophic events (“What if this happens? And then what?”)

 

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder, another type of anxiety disorder, involves unexpected panic attacks, which are sudden periods of intense fear that may include shaking, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate; sweating; trembling or shaking; sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, or choking; and feeling of impending doom.

Social anxiety disorder

This type, sometimes called “social phobia”,  is characterized by a marked fear of social or performance situations in which people expect to feel embarrassed, judged, rejected, or fearful of offending others. This will often lead to the avoidance of such situations: avoiding to go shopping at certain busy times or certain places  (for fear of being in a crowded space rather than avoiding busy times because it’s more time consuming).

Other anxiety disorders are fears of specific things. These phobias may be of animals (e.g., spiders, mice), of germs, of heights, flying the dark, tight spaces, etc.  Often these phobias were triggered by experiencing a frightful situation.

Treatment

Anxiety Disorders are very amenable to treatment.  Treatment usually consists of a combination of relaxation strategies and cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) designed to reduce the emotional reaction and learn to replace the anxiety producing thoughts with more rational and realistic thoughts. Often, medication is also prescribed.

EAP consultants can help by teaching relaxation strategies and CBT techniques. Contact the EAP for more information and to schedule an appointment.

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