Everybody knows what it’s like to feel anxious – the tension before making a big presentation at work, the uncertainty of a first date, the quick breaths before a final exam. Normal anxiety is actually healthy and moves you towards action. It moves you to do better at your presentation, study harder for the test, and take the risk to go out on that date.
But if you have an anxiety disorder, this normally helpful emotion can do just the opposite – it can keep you from coping and can disrupt your daily life. Anxiety disorders aren’t just a case of “nerves.” They are illnesses, often related to the biological makeup and life experiences of the individual, and they frequently run in families. There are several types of anxiety disorders, each with its distinct features.
An anxiety disorder may make you feel anxious most of the time, without any apparent reason. Or the anxious feelings may be so uncomfortable that to avoid them you may stop some everyday activities. Or you may have occasional bouts of anxiety so intense they terrify and immobilize you.
How therapy can help anxiety and panic disorders:
- People with anxiety often experience events as black or white. For example, one unpleasant car ride might create a thought of “driving is unsafe. I might die”. Therapy can help you look at your distorted thoughts and create more balanced, soothing thoughts and behaviors. You might replace that thought with “I had one scary car ride. The majority of vehicles don’t get into accidents”.
- You can learn breathing exercises and be educated about different activities like exercise that can help lesson anxiety.
- People with anxiety often didn’t have a family member who was able to nurture them when they were scared, so they have difficulty nurturing themselves and calming themselves down. Therapy can provide a safe place where feelings are nurtured and supportive which can lead to improved self-support.