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What are anxiety disorders and how can psychotherapy help?



Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health illnesses. Did you know that at least 4.3% of men and 8.7% of women experiences some kind of anxiety disorder every year? There are several types of anxiety disorders, including separation anxiety disorder, specific phobia, social phobia, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and generalised anxiety disorder.


So what are these conditions and why does it affect so many people?


Before going into that, it's important for us to know what anxiety really is. Anxiety is your body's natural response to stress. It's a feeling we all get in situations that are threatening or difficult, like when there's a fire, or when you go for a job interview, or give a speech in front of a crowd. When anxiety kicks in, our body goes into fight or flight mode, releasing hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin that prepares you to face the threat. Common symptoms of anxiety includes shortness of breath, racing heartbeat, trembles, sweaty palms, headache, nausea etc.. Anxiety stops when you stop perceiving the situation you're in as threatening.


Having prolonged feelings of anxiety however, is a problem. Especially if your feelings of anxiety are extreme, last for longer than six months, and are interfering with your life - which indicates that you may be having an anxiety disorder. If you feel that you might be experiencing an anxiety disorder, please do seek professional help.


Here's a summary of the types of anxiety disorders as seen on https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety and https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD): uncontrollable worry about common occurrences and situations.

  • Panic disorder: experiencing recurring panic attacks at unexpected times. A person with panic disorder may live in fear of the next panic attack.

  • Specific Phobia: excessive fear of a specific object, situation, or activity.

  • Social anxiety disorder: extreme fear of being judged by others in social situations.

  • Separation anxiety disorder: fear of being away from home or loved ones

  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): anxiety following a traumatic event


You can also learn more about the types of anxiety disorders here: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/anxiety-disorders/what-are-anxiety-disorders;


Anxiety disorders are uncomfortable but unlike physical pain, it doesn't call for immediate treatment. Thats why, despite it being highly treatable, only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment, and only around one fifth of teenagers with anxiety receive treatment. Many who are suffering do not know how to deal with the negative feelings they are experiencing, and end up beating themselves up, not knowing that hating, fighting, and struggling will just turn up its intensity. Fighting anxiety is like being in quick sand, the more you struggle and try to break free, the faster and deeper you sink.


So what should you do instead? You can start by choosing a different response to the situations you are fearful of, for example, instead of being anxious, can you take deep breaths and try to be calmer each time? or instead of surrendering to the feelings and losing control, can you grasp onto hope and believe that if you try, one day you'll be back in control? Perhaps you can also slow things down and constantly remind yourself that anxiety, beastly as it may feel, is doing its one job - trying to protect you from what it believes to be a threat.


Here at YU Therapy, we are passionate in helping people who are facing anxiety disorders. We help by using different types of psychotherapy in combination with hypnosis, such as Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), psychodynamic approaches etc..


Various research has shown the efficacy of treatment using psychotherapies in combination with hypnosis, a few of them are as follows:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ch.154

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00029157.1990.10402820?src=recsys

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00029157.2011.650333

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S000578949780038X


If you or someone you know is struggling through anxiety disorder, kindly reach out to us here, and we will help you overcome and regain control over your life.

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