By Wasim Kakroo
ANXIETY disorders are severe mental illnesses that produce intense worry or fear that persists over time and might possibly get worse. We all experience anxiety from time to time, but those who suffer from anxiety disorders tend to experience it more frequently, and it has a very detrimental and intrusive effect on their quality of life.
Research has found that women are more prone than men to experience anxiety, and hence experts now advise that screening for anxiety disorders should be done as part of regular medical care for women and girls over the age of 13.
What are the various types of anxiety disorders?
The various types of anxiety disorders are as follows:
1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder: In generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), there is excessive worry and anxiety about many different things. It is challenging to control this worry, and it frequently changes from one worry to another.
2. Agoraphobia: Agoraphobia is an intense and illogical fear of being trapped in a situation from which there is no way out. People frequently avoid situations where they might feel terrified, helpless, or imprisoned out of a fear that they will exhibit panic symptoms or other symptoms in front of others.
3. Panic disorder: The symptoms of panic disorder include frequent, severe panic attacks that come on suddenly and without much or any warning. Rapid breathing, a heightened sense of fear, and rapid heartbeat are just a few of the physical and emotional signs of a panic attack.
4. Social Anxiety Disorder: A fear of social situations is a symptom of social anxiety disorder (SAD), formerly known as social phobia. This phobia may be focused on certain scenarios, such public speaking, or it may be more broadly focused on a fear of numerous social interactions.
5. Selective Mutism: A childhood anxiety disorder called selective mutism affects speech. When children experience anxiety, humiliation, or dread in particular situations, such as at school or around strangers, they are unable to speak.
6. Specific Phobias: A specific phobia is an overpowering, unreasonable, and excessively fearful reaction to a particular situation or object. People who have a specific phobia exhibit acute symptoms such as sweating, sobbing, shaking, a quick heartbeat, and accelerated respiration when they come in contact with the source of their fear.
What are the various types of psychotherapies that clients can opt for?
Since no two people experience anxiety the same way, hence there is no “one size fits all” treatment. What works for one individual may not work for another.
Knowing as much as you can about your therapy options and then customizing them to suit your requirements is the greatest strategy to combat anxiety. Working with a professional therapist to find the greatest fit can be helpful in many situations.
Through therapy, you may learn more about how you feel, why you feel that way, what triggers you, and how you could alter how you react to them. Some therapy models impart useful methods for reframing negative thoughts and altering behaviors.
There are various types of therapies available for clients to opt for. Few evidence based psychotherapies include:
1. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
2. Mindfulness based cognitive therapy
3. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
4. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
5. Metacognitive Therapy
6. Psychodynamic Therapy
7. Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy
A particular type of therapy or the elements of various therapies are used as per the joint consensus of the therapist and client. Usually competent therapists use eclectic method, i.e, they use tailor made treatment by choosing elements from various therapies as per the requirements of the case.
How does a psychotherapist help you to deal with anxiety?
Therapist in a private and confidential atmosphere through their non-judgmental, warm and scientific approach, encourages you to open up about how you have been feeling because of anxiety. Because anxiety is unreasonable, we may feel ashamed of what we’re going through, which makes it easier for us to keep our suffering a secret from loved ones and even from ourselves. It can feel quite relieving to simply admit how much you’ve been suffering.
Therapists don’t make their clients feel foolish or judged for feeling nervous. On contrary, therapists take your anxiety very seriously and understand everything you’re saying. And whatever you share with a skilled therapist won’t come as a surprise to them as they’ve dealt with a lot of cases just like yours.
It might be difficult to understand how anxiety started and “why you,” as the saying goes, because it frequently feels so disconnected from what is actually happening to you and around you. A therapist is qualified and experienced in assisting you in sorting through your past events to determine exactly how you may have built anxiety as a coping method.
In order to learn how to handle your anxiety, your therapist might encourage you to confront your worries and take risks that can make you feel anxious. Additionally, they can help you to develop brand-new abilities (including mindfulness, cognitive defusion, acceptance, tolerance for uncertainty etc) that may at first seem foreign to you.
Your initial response to your therapist’s suggestions may be skepticism: “I can’t do that,” “That’s too scary,” and “That might work for other people but not for me” are common beliefs people have when they first learn about various anxiety-relieving skills and strategies. All the different types of such skills might seem counter-intuitive to clients as they might have been using problematic coping strategies such as avoidance, escapism and distractions of various types to deal with their anxiety.
Though it’s natural and understandable to feel skepticism and fear, consider this: if you don’t believe in your therapist, there is no possibility that therapy will be effective. Even though you may have doubts about whether therapy will help, if you believe your therapist, there is at least a probability that it will if the therapist’s theories are sound. Therefore, the only choice you have that gives you a chance for success is to trust your therapist.
The significance of having faith in your therapist is related to what I’ve found to be one of the single strongest predictor of a client’s success in anxiety therapy as it might motivate you to do your therapy homework.
Although therapy is a place to learn and practice anxiety-reduction techniques, genuine change doesn’t take place during therapy sessions. What matters most is how well you use the lessons you’ve gained in therapy outside of therapy sessions. I tell my clients that the actual healing does not happen in the session itself; the actual healing happens in-between the sessions where the client works patiently and persistently on what has been discussed in the session.
In my experience, clients who do their therapy homework improve, and clients who do not do their therapy homework do not improve, whether they are my own clients or the clients of the counselors I’ve supervised.
It frequently calls for risk-taking and doing things that appear counter-intuitive to complete therapeutic homework. In order to achieve long-term relief from their anxiety, clients who are successful in therapy generally approach it with a willingness to endure the short-term suffering brought on by therapeutic homework.
For instance, a client with contamination OCD (fear of germs) can be encouraged to touch objects they believe to be filthy (such as door handles, floors, toilets, and garbage cans) and then be told not to wash their hands, despite feeling like they are running the danger of being ill. Or a client who is anxious about losing a relationship may be advised to cease asking their spouse for assurance, even though the uncertainty is intolerable and the assurance feels good.
You must experience anxiety in the short term if you want your anxiety to improve. In general, clients who are willing to push past momentary worry improve, whereas those who are unwilling to do so do not.
I sincerely hope that whatever we discussed above regarding anxiety and how a therapist can help you in dealing with it might prove useful as you begin your journey to treat your anxiety. Although it could seem intimidating at first, if you put in the effort, you will succeed!
- The author is a licensed clinical psychologist (alumni of Govt. Medical College Srinagar) and works as a consultant clinical psychologist at Centre for Mental Health Services (CMHS) at Rambagh Srinagar. He can be reached at 8825067196
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