What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a state of physical and mental arousal in response to a perceived threat. A normal anxiety response helps us to avoid or react effectively to dangerous situations. For some people; however, the anxiety seems to come out of the blue, does not go away when the threat passes, or is much more intense than the threat warrants. In addition, the intensity or duration of the anxiety may cause significant distress or interfere with functioning in daily life. When this occurs, it may be an anxiety disorder.
There are several types of disorders that include anxiety symptoms, including:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Specific Phobias
Although the specific symptoms of the various anxiety disorders differ, they all share one thing in common; an overwhelming sense of fear or dread.
What Does Anxiety Look Like?
Anxiety involves physical, mental, behavioral, and emotional changes. These may include: increased arousal, excessive worries or fears, avoidance of feared situations, and feeling overwhelmed.
Symptoms of Anxiety Can Include:
Significant and persistent fear or worry that seems excessive. Avoidance of feared things or situations (or enduring them with intense discomfort). Recurrent, persistent, or in-trusive distressing thoughts or repetitive behaviors that one feels driven to perform and has difficulty controlling. Panic attacks (intense, dis-tressing physical symptoms such as pounding heart, shortness of breath, or dizziness, accompanied by a fear of losing control or dying). The symptoms occur more often than not for a prolonged period of time resulting in intense distress or problems with life functioning.
What is Depression?
Depression is one of the most common and most treatable mental illnesses in the US. Up to a quarter of us will experience Major Depressive Disorder in our lifetime. Depression can affect anyone at any time – people of any age, gender, race, and economic status can experience depression. Depression is different from healthy feelings of sadness or grief, which are expected reactions to negative life events, tend to be shorter in duration, and have less of an impact on everyday living.
What Does Depression Look Like?
Depression involves mood changes that may include sadness or emptiness, loneliness, worthlessness, loss of interest in things, hopelessness, self-doubts, irritability and guilt. Depression can also involve physical and behavioral changes such as low motivation and energy, restlessness or being slowed down, difficulty concentrating, aches and pains, social withdrawal, appetite and sleep changes, and even thoughts of suicide. These symptoms can be very distressing and can cause serious problems at work or school, in relationships, and even in ones ability to care for oneself. Depression can also make management of health conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease more difficult.
Symptoms of Depression Can Include:
Sadness, emptiness, irritability, or crying, lack of interest in things that used to be pleasurable, significant changes in body weight or appetite, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, restless or slowed thoughts and movements, tiredness or loss of energy, worthlessness or guilt, trouble concentrating or making decisions, thoughts of death or suicide.
What Causes Depression and Anxiety?
Heredity, environment, personality characteristics,problematic patterns of thinking, difficult life events and medical conditions may all play a role in whether someone develops depression or an anxiety disorder.
Fortunately, there are a variety of effective treatments for depression and anxiety disorders and it is possible to experience complete recovery from symptoms. In general, the most effective treatment for anxiety disorders and mild depression is psychotherapy. Medication can also provide relief for severe anxiety symptoms. For more severe depression, the most effective treatment includes a combination of intensive psychotherapy and medication.
The brain is an organ, and just like the heart or liver, it can be vulnerable to disease. Unfortunately, there is a stigma based on the misconception that people who are anxious or depressed are weak or crazy. Such misconceptions can prevent people from getting the help they need to recover.
If you suspect you or a loved one suffers from depression or anxiety, please schedule an initial assessment using our secure, HIPAA compliant online scheduling system to discuss your concerns with Dr. Ochester and see how she might help.
Anxiety Disorders Association of America