Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is an emotion that is often accompanied by worry thoughts, urges to avoid or escape, and physical symptoms, such as racing heart, sweating, or upset stomach.  All humans, and even animals, experience anxiety.  

 

Like all emotions, we need anxiety.  It is meant to protect us from danger.  However, when anxiety escalates and becomes chronic, it can start to interfere with one’s life.  When anxiety causes distress and interferes with one’s day to day, it becomes an anxiety disorder.  

 

At The Center for Genuine Growth, PLLC, we treat a variety of anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and specific phobias.  We also treat obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which are now considered anxiety-related disorders.  

 

Anxiety disorder evidence-based treatments that are offered at The Center for Genuine Growth, PLLC are: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) for PTSD, Exposure Therapy, Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) for OCD, mindfulness-based approaches, and Prolonged Exposure (PE) for PTSD. 

 

Depression and Depressive Disorders

Depression is an emotion and is a term that is used to describe a state of low mood. Depression can emerge from stress in one’s life or entirely out of the blue.  For some people, brief periods of feeling depressed are normal.  

 

Sometimes low mood or depression is accompanied by thoughts of worthlessness, low energy, poor concentration, changes in sleep, low motivation, feelings of hopelessness, and isolation.   When these other symptoms are present and they start to interfere with one’s day to day for a period of time, they may meet criteria for a depressive disorder and treatment is recommended.  

 

At The Center for Genuine Growth, PLLC, we offer two evidence-based treatment options for depressive disorders: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).  Mindfulness-based approaches can also be helpful with this set of disorders.

 

Trauma and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

While stress is a normal part of life, trauma is not.  In the mental health world, trauma differs from stress.  Trauma occurs when someone’s life has been threatened or there has been some form of sexual assault.   Immediately following a trauma, it is common for someone to experience increased anxiety and changes in how one views the world, themselves, or other people.  They may start to avoid certain situations, and they may experience physical symptoms, including difficulties sleeping, poor concentration, being easily startled, and being jumpy or on edge. 

 

For many people, these symptoms naturally reduce without any treatment in the first few months after the trauma.  For other people, these symptoms remain and get worse.  If these symptoms worsen and interfere with one’s day to day, then someone might meet criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  

 

The Center for Genuine Growth, PLLC offers multiple evidence-based therapies for PTSD, including Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Prolonged Exposure (PE), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). 

 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety-related disorder that develops when someone experiences intrusive thoughts that are so distressing they engage in repetitive or ritualistic behavior to get rid of them.  These intrusive and distressing thoughts can take the form of ideas or images, and they are referred to as obsessions.  The repetitive or ritualistic behaviors that someone engages in to get rid of these obsessions are compulsions.  Often someone feels the urge to engage in their compulsions until the intrusive thoughts go away or until it “feels right.”  

 

OCD can range in severity, with some individuals noticing only a limited effect on their day to day and with others noticing a more debilitating effect. The Center for Genuine Growth, PLLC offers an outpatient level of care for OCD, with two evidence-based treatment options: Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).  For clients that need a higher level of care, referrals will be made.

 

Panic attacks and Panic Disorder

For some people, their anxiety is accompanied by brief periods of intense fear and physical symptoms, such as heart racing, sweating, shaking, and shortness of breath.  If these episodes peak within minutes, they are referred to as panic attacks.  

 

When these panic attacks are accompanied by fears of going crazy, dying, or having a heart attack and they start to interfere with one’s life, it is a sign that someone may meet criteria for panic disorder and need psychotherapy.  

 

The Center for Genuine Growth, PLLC treats panic disorder with two evidence-based treatment options: Exposure Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).  

 

Binge eating

A binge eating episode is a distinct period when someone eats an abnormally large quantity of food, sometimes to the point of feeling sick, and feels a loss of self-control.  Binge eating is different from overeating in that it is a much greater quantity than the average person would eat within a given period of time, and it is accompanied by a loss of self-control.  

 

This type of eating pattern can lead to feelings of guilt or shame, affect one’s physical health, and lead to feeling down or anxious.  It is sometimes associated with poor body image and low self-esteem. 

 

The Center for Genuine Growth, PLLC offers a modified version of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based approaches to reduce this problematic behavior and help improve how one feels about their body image, size, and shape.  

 

The Center for Genuine Growth, PLLC does not offer services for eating disorders more generally.  If someone is exhibiting symptoms of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, pica, rumination disorder, avoidant/restrictive feeding intake disorder, or unspecified/other eating disorder, then an outside referral will be made to ensure that these individuals are getting more comprehensive care.  

 

Chronic pain or illness

Chronic pain is pain that persists for months and remains even after a specific injury or illness is treated.  Chronic illness, like chronic pain, is an illness or disease that persists for months or years.  Chronic medical conditions result in physical symptoms that may significantly change how one spends their day and may disrupt how one understands themselves and the world. 

 

In addition to the physical symptoms that come with chronic pain and illness, mental health symptoms may also emerge with these medical conditions.  Chronic pain and illness can often lead to anxiety, depression, sleep difficulties, poor concentration, and negative thoughts.   The Center for Genuine Growth, PLLC can help someone cope better with their chronic pain or illness, using mindfulness-based approaches or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).  

 

Poor concentration

Many people report that they have difficulties concentrating.  Poor concentration can be due to a variety of reasons, including medical issues, stress, poor sleep, poor appetite, low mood, and other mental health conditions. 

 

Because difficulties in concentration are so common, it is sometimes difficult to identify the exact root cause.  However, there are mental health strategies, which are helpful for poor concentration, regardless of the source.  Mindfulness-based approaches have been shown to be among the most effective strategies in improving concentration.  Here at The Center for Genuine Growth, PLLC, we offer mindfulness-based approaches to improve client difficulties with concentration. 

 

Sleep difficulties

Sleep is essential to our well-being.  Without healthy levels of sleep, our physical and mental health can greatly suffer.  Poor sleep can exacerbate pain, worsen our eating and drinking habits, and affect our productivity.  It can also lead to decreased mood and poor concentration.  

 

There are many things that can impact our sleep.  Our daily habits can affect sleep.  Staying up and sleeping in too late, drinking alcohol, eating a big meal too late in the night, and spending too many hours in the late evening looking at screens can all affect how well someone sleeps. 

 

Physical illness, stress from work, worries, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain can also reduce the quality of our sleep.  In fact, these factors can form a problematic cycle with sleep: these symptoms lead to poor sleep, which worsens these symptoms.  

 

Some people with sleep issues may meet criteria for insomnia.  One of the most effective treatments for this disorder is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I).  The Center for Genuine Growth, PLLC provides this treatment to individuals who meet criteria for insomnia. 

 

Life stress or transitions

One does not always need a mental health disorder to benefit from therapy.  Life often throws stress our way, and sometimes it can be more than we can handle.  When that stress is affecting our mood and our ability to act effectively, psychotherapy can help.   Mindfulness-based approaches can be helpful during these periods.

 

Some stress might be caused by life transitions (e.g., divorce, learning about a new illness/injury, moving to a new city, getting laid off from a job, giving birth to a child, coping with the current political climate) that can be difficult to cope with and can lead to changes in mood and other mental health symptoms.  For example, someone might notice having more negative thoughts or urges to avoid other people. 

 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are two treatments offered at The Center for Genuine Growth, PLLC that can help with these life transitions and stress.  

 

Anhedonia

Anhedonia has multiple definitions.  As a symptom of depression, it means loss of interest in pleasurable or enjoyable activities.  It also has a more expansive definition.  Anhedonia is the presence of any deficit or difficulty in anticipating (or expecting) reward, noticing or appreciating reward, and learning how to obtain reward.  (Reward is anything positive or pleasurable.)  Anhedonia is also the difficulty in experiencing positive emotions.

For example, many people with anhedonia often report that they rarely feel happiness, interest, curiosity, pride, joy, or excitement.  They might have a hard time noticing positive things in their day to day.  When they do notice something positive, they might have a tendency to dismiss positive things that happen to them, such as attributing these events to luck.  Some people report that they have very little positive activities scheduled into their week or that they have lost interest in things that they used to enjoy.  They sometimes struggle to know what to do to build more positive experiences into their week.  

Anhedonia is typically present in people with low mood.  The Positive Affect Treatment (PAT) was specifically designed to target anhedonia, and Dr. Dour - who is the co-creator, developer, and author of this new evidence-based therapy - is currently the only private practice offering this treatment in WA and FL.