Anxiety is an excessive state of worry that can affect you across three levels of your being: cognitive, physiological and emotional. Cognitive symptoms of anxiety include: excessive worry—or fear—based thoughts, racing thoughts, frozen thoughts or inability to “think straight” as well as muddled or confused thinking. Some physiological symptoms of anxiety include: heart palpitations, sweating, clammy hands, tension headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, dry mouth, chest pain, stomach aches or nausea, muscle weakness, hot and cold flashes, numbness or tingling in hands and feet. Emotionally, anxiety can result in feeling detached or being out-of-touch with yourself or your environment, feelings of shame or a heightened sense of worry or fear. Anxiety can be experienced both acutely and chronically and may or may not have a direct trigger; it’s quite possible to feel anxious without any apparent reason or direct cause for the anxiety.
One theory towards anxiety is that it is our biological fear response that has gone awry. Our fear response, also popularly called the “fight or flight” mechanism, is a normal evolutionary mechanism originally designed to assist us in avoiding predators back in the days when we were hunters and gatherers. It is as if our protection radars went into overdrive without identifying a specific reason for this excessive reaction. When anxiety is exaggerated or out of control to this degree, it can negatively impact our personal, social and occupational functioning as well as our perceived sense of health and well-being.
Anxiety may present itself in many forms and types. Understanding what type of anxiety you struggle with, how it impacts you across the levels and what it is actually made of is the first and most important step towards learning how to manage it. Additionally, understanding whether the anxiety you experience is appropriate and reasonable or intense and extreme with regards to your current life situation is necessary to determine whether or not you are struggling with typical anxiety or an anxiety disorder.
A full list of anxiety disorders as detailed in the the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is listed below:
1. Separation Anxiety Disorder
2. Selective Mutism
3. Specific Phobia
4. Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)
5. Panic Disorder
7. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
8. Substance/Medication- Induced Anxiety Disorder
9. Anxiety Due to Another Medical Condition
10. Other Specified Anxiety Disorder and Unspecified Anxiety Disorder
Although Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders are listed under a separate chapter in the DSM-5, it is important to note that an underlying experience of anxiety or desire to avoid anxiety can be a strong component leading to the Obsessive-Compulsive and related disorders.
If what you experience is reasonable or appropriate anxiety or if you struggle with chronic and extreme anxiety, you know how overwhelming and insurmountable the feelings and thoughts can seem at times. At NYC Therapy Group, we believe the best approach to the treatment of anxiety tends to symptoms on all three levels: cognitive, physiological and emotional. As such, we employ techniques from varying theories and philosophies including: cognitive-behavioral, experiential, mindfulness and medication when necessary to help you find a place in which you can manage your anxiety and live fully and optimally.
Anxiety Counseling in Riverdale, NY and Manhattan