Everyone experiences some form of anxiety in their daily lives, however, when the worries begin to feel out of control they can become a barrier to our success and well-being. Although anxiety can feel isolating, around 40 million American adults experience symptoms at a level warranting diagnosis, making anxiety disorders one of the most common mental health concerns in the United States today.
One and four people will meet criteria for an anxiety disorder at some point their life with women being twice as likely than men to hold this diagnosis. In fact, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the population. Those who meet criteria for feel anxious and worried at least 50% of the time for a period of at least six months. They find it difficult to stop thinking about their worries and often report feeling restless, easily fatigued, irritable, physically tense, and have difficulty sleeping and concentrating. Although not everyone with GAD will experience all of these symptoms, a commonality is their anxiety will cause them distress to a point that makes regular social, work, family, or other life functioning difficult.
It can be difficult to cope with these experiences on your own. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one treatment method that has been shown to be highly effective in giving people the tools they need to address anxiety and regain control of their worries. CBT helps those with GAD understand the pattern of their anxiety and begin to look at it more objectively. By examining the triggers, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with their anxiety, they learn to challenge their thinking patterns and create new, more useful ones. Through a collaborative process with their therapist, clients are able to experiment and practice methods for lessening their anxious reactions on their own.
Another effective technique for reducing anxiety is Exposure Response Prevention. This involves confronting triggers of anxiety in an incremental and methodical way to lower a client’s sensitivity to them. This enables the client to become more accustomed to the triggering exposure and learn to cope with the discomfort. By doing this, they learn from experience that their fears are largely unfounded and that they are capable of dealing with the event.
CBI is the Pittsburgh Regional Clinic of the National Social Anxiety Center (NSAC) and has a wealth of clinicians trained in CBT and exposure therapy. If you or someone you know is struggling with symptoms of anxiety, we can be of service to you. We offer video counseling and have offices located in , , and . You can learn more about CBI at or by calling .
This article was originally posted on www.papsychotherapy.org January 17, 2018