Anxiety disorders are serious medical conditions that affect an estimated 264 million people worldwide. They are also some of the most prevalent mental health disorders in the United States. Women are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder than men, and special considerations are given to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
La Ventana has a comprehensive mental health treatment program that works with women who have anxiety disorders. We recognize the unique challenges that women face and how past trauma can affect their risk for developing mental illness. Between talk therapy, medication and lifestyle changes, we are able to help most clients lead happy, healthy lives.
If you or a loved one has an anxiety disorder, La Ventana can provide personalized treatment services. Below is more information about the different types of anxiety disorders and the treatments they respond best to.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety is a normal response to stressful events, such as taking a test or moving to a new home. But, in these instances, the anxiety goes away and doesn’t interfere with a normal, productive lifestyle. With anxiety disorders, the anxiety is much more pronounced and carries over into work, school and relationships. It doesn’t go away or get better, and many people end up feeling anxious even when there is nothing wrong.
At La Ventana, the first step is to diagnose the type of anxiety our client is dealing with. Here are some different types of anxiety disorders.
Generalized anxiety disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) involves excessive worrying about normal, everyday activities like work, school, money or family. To be diagnosed with this type of anxiety, the person must have symptoms most days of the week, for at least 6 months.
The main symptoms of GAD are:
- Feeling restless or wound up
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Sleep problems
People with panic disorder experience recurring panic attacks. These attacks come on quickly and reach their peak within a few minutes. Sometimes they are caused by a trigger, such as a place or person, and other times they come out of nowhere. Because of their unpredictability, people with panic attacks tend to withdraw from friends and family.
During a panic attack, symptoms may include:
- Heart palpitations
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath
- Feelings of doom
- Feelings of being out of control
A phobia is an intense fear of a specific object or situation. Even though a person might be scared of something legitimate, their reactions are not in proportion to the actual danger that may occur. Some phobias are specific, such as being afraid of heights or blood. Some are situational, such as a social phobia. A person with social anxiety may be afraid to speak in public or eat in front of others, or they may shy away from all social encounters.
No matter what type of phobia a person has, they tend to show the same symptoms such as:
- Excessive worry about encountering the object or situation
- Takes active steps to avoid the object or situation
- Experiences immediate anxiety when faced with the object or situation
Risk Factors for Anxiety Disorders
Researchers have found genetic and environmental links to anxiety disorders. Of course, we still have a lot to learn about anxiety disorders, as many people have these risk factors and do not develope anxiety. But, this information allows doctors and mental health professionals to identify people who may be at risk.
- Temperamental traits like shyness
- Exposure to stressful events in childhood
- Family history of mental illness
- Physical health problems, such as thyroid disease, heart arrhythmias or substance abuse
Anxiety Responds Best to Talk Therapy and Medication
As challenging as it can be to live with an anxiety disorder, treatment is available and tends to work very well. Typically, anxiety disorders are treated with a combination of psychotherapy and medication. The medications most commonly prescribed are benzodiazepines, antidepressants and beta-blockers.
Please note that young adults under the age of 25 may experience an increase in suicidal thoughts or behaviors when taking certain antidepressants. At La Ventana, we are particularly careful with this group, as well as women who are pregnant and breastfeeding.
In addition to medication, our anxiety treatment center recommends psychotherapy. This form of talk therapy helps people recognize and manage their symptoms. Specifically, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches people new ways of thinking, behaving and reacting to stressful situations. It can also help people learn new social skills, which is useful for those with social anxiety disorder.
Support Groups and Stress Management, Also Useful Tools
People with anxiety often benefit from support groups. These groups introduce them to other people dealing with similar problems. By sharing their problems and achievements, people feel less alone and more connected to others. Of course, it’s important to know that what helped one person may not help another.
Stress management techniques should also be considered, as they can be applied when a person is feeling stressed or anxious. At La Ventana, we introduce a number of stress management techniques to help our clients take control of their symptoms. Some of the most effective are mindfulness, life skills, emotional regulation, music and art therapy and yoga therapy.
Start Treatment for Anxiety Disorder Today
La Ventana offers treatment for anxiety disorders in a safe, supportive setting. We focus on women and the unique challenges they face, including childcare, financial issues, education, relationships and past trauma. Treatment is unique to each client and includes psychotherapy, stress management techniques and medication, if needed. Contact us today to start this new chapter in your life.