Do you think you have an anxiety disorder? Are you unsure on what type of help is available if you do have an anxiety disorder? To help gain an understanding of the symptoms of an anxiety disorder and treatment options available for the disorder, I have interviewed, psychologist April Lok, PhD.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a clinical psychologist in private practice in Southlake, Texas, between Dallas and Fort Worth. I offer individual and couples counseling to address a variety of issues, including stress and anxiety, depression, life transitions, and relationship challenges related to dating, marriage, and divorce. Although I see people from all walks of life, I specialize in working with military veterans and their families.”
What is an anxiety disorder?
“There are several different types of anxiety disorders. These include:
Panic disorder – Repeated panic attacks that are usually brief but so intense that the person fears future attacks.
Phobias ‘” Fear of a specific object or situation, such as flying, leaving the house, or social situations.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) ‘” Preoccupation with a particular thought or behavior, such as counting, hand-washing, or checking locks.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ‘” Reaction to a life-threatening event that keeps the person on edge as they try to avoid reminders of the event.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) ‘” Excessive worry about a variety of issues, persisting for months or years.
The common theme among anxiety disorders is that they are characterized by some form of fear or feeling of emotional distress. Many of them cause physical symptoms as well.”
What are some of the symptoms of an anxiety disorder?
“Physical symptoms of anxiety may include muscle tension, tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing, as well as a racing heart. Anxiety can also cause gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea or upset stomach. People experiencing anxiety often report feeling nervous and in some cases may fear that they are going crazy or going to die.”
What type of impact does an anxiety disorder have on a person’s life?
“Most people with an anxiety disorder live with the feeling of being keyed up or on edge. That can contribute to irritability, make it hard to concentrate, and cause difficulty sleeping. In addition, many people with anxiety disorders try to arrange their lives in order to avoid whatever they are afraid of. Together, these symptoms can have a negative impact on a person’s work, relationships, and general quality of life.”
What are the treatment approaches for someone who has an anxiety disorder?
“Anxiety can be treated with psychotherapy, which often includes relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation. Learning to relax gives clients tools to begin to confront their worries or fears, through exposure (e.g., someone with a fear of flying working up to getting on a plane) and/or cognitive strategies that challenge the likelihood of the feared event taking place. Many people also find that their faith is a source of peace and can learn to use their spirituality to overcome anxiety. In addition to counseling, medication may be helpful to reduce anxiety and/or improve sleep.”
Can an anxiety disorder lead to other disorders?
“Anxiety can overlap with other disorders. Anxiety symptoms are often seen when someone is having difficulty adjusting to a major life transition, which may be part of an adjustment disorder. It is common for anxiety disorders to co-occur with depression and other mood disorders. If the person uses drugs or alcohol to try to cope with anxiety, it could lead to a substance use disorder.”
What last advice would you like to leave for someone who has an anxiety disorder?
“If you experience overwhelming anxiety, seek help. You can learn techniques to help you be free of anxiety, and these in turn may also help you cope better with the stresses of every day life.”
Thank you Dr. Lok for doing the interview on anxiety. For more information on Dr. Lok or her work you can check out her website on www.Doc-Lok.com.
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