Fear is a normal emotion. When fear influences our daily lives and becomes more serious, it may lead you to panic. Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that is based on a recurring and life affecting panic attacks. Panic disorder affects about 5% of people in their life based on research by the National Institute of Mental Health (2). For you to meet the criteria for a panic disorder, one of the following must occur at least monthly, you need to experience a continual fear of having a panic attack in the future or shift your behaviors designed to completely avoid the attacks themselves. It may be difficult to quantify your behaviors as being a panic attack. Working with a therapist can help you to understand your symptoms and to see if you meet the diagnostic criteria for a panic disorder.
What is a panic attack?
A panic attack is described as a sudden or intense feeling of terror, fear, or apprehension. This could be with or without the actual presence of danger. Panic attacks normally happen suddenly, peak, and then subside quickly. While they normally last around ten minutes or so, there is a chance that they may last longer or occur one after another. This could make it difficult to know when a panic attack ends and another panic attack may begin.
Types of Panic Disorder?
There are two types of panic disorders. The type of panic disorder that you have can help your therapist to come up with an appropriate therapy plan and help you to relieve your symptoms. It’s important to work with your therapist and be honest about your symptoms so that you can be accurately diagnosed. Depending on your symptoms it may be possible to have both types.Here are the two types of panic disorders:
- Unexpected- Unexpected Panic Disorder occurs when a person experiences a sudden panic attack and there are no external or internal cues. They occur without a fearful experience, situation, thought or feeling. The panic attacks may seem to occur out of the blue and may happen even when someone is relaxed or not stressed. This is more common in people experiencing panic disorder.
- Expected- Expected panic attacks are those that we can predict. This type of panic disorder occurs when someone is exposed to a fear and has a panic attack. This response to stimulus can be wide-ranging and personal. The fears that people have are very personal. A therapist will offer a safe space to discuss your fears and phobias. They will work with you to understand your fears better, learn your triggers, and help you learn coping strategies to help you reduce your symptoms.
What are the symptoms of a panic attack?
There are many different symptoms that you may experience if you have panic attacks. It’s possible that your symptoms may not be consistent and vary depending on the severity of the panic attack. To be officially diagnosed, you need to experience at least four of the following symptoms, but if you don’t experience four, you may be diagnosed with limited-symptom panic attacks. Here are some of the symptoms that you may be experiencing:
- Chest pain and/or discomfort
- Fear of losing control, going crazy, or dying
- Nausea or abdominal pain/distress
- Chills or hot flushes
- Numbness or tingling
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or increased heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Trembling or shaking
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder varies by person. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is the presence of compulsions and/or obsessions that cause major distress or disruption to daily living. There are different types of obsessive compulsive disorder based on how you experience symptoms. It’s also possible that your obsessions or compulsions may indicate another mental health condition. When you work with a therapist and discuss your symptoms, they can help to diagnose you appropriately and get the help that you need. Here are the different types of obsessive compulsive disorder:
- Contamination Obsession with a washing and cleaning compulsion
- Harm Obsession with checking compulsions
- Obsessions without visible compulsions
- Symmetry Obsessions with ordering, arranging, and counting compulsions
According to the NIMH, about 10% of US adults have phobias that they experience (3). Phobias typically occur in childhood and continue far into adulthood. Women are more likely to experience phobias than men based on research by the American Psychiatric Association. Symptoms of phobias can be dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, and sweating.
Here are the most common phobias in America:
- Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders and other arachnids
- Ophidiophobia, the fear of snakes
- Acrophobia, the fear of heights
- Aerophobia, the fear of flying
- Cynophobia, the fear of dogs
- Astraphobia, the fear of thunder and lightning
- Trypanophobia, the fear or injections
- Social Phobia, also known as Social Anxiety Disorder
- Agoraphobia, fear of crowded areas
- Mysophobia, fear of germs
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder can be difficult to diagnose. While most people attribute a panic attack as a part of all anxiety disorders, generalized anxiety disorder is different since there are generally no panic attacks. If you’re asking yourself about an anxiety therapist near me that can help you to diagnose generalized anxiety disorder, consider SilverLake Psychology. They’re specialists in anxiety and can help you to become diagnosed appropriately.
Due to this main difference, generalized anxiety disorder sufferers may believe that they’re just worrying too much and not seek treatment. Excessive worry means that you are worrying even when there may not be a specific threat or danger. We all worry about our lives but when it affects our everyday life, it may be generalized anxiety disorder. Some of the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:
- The presence of excessive worry and anxiety about a variety of stimuli including activities, events, and topics. These feelings occur often, are excessive, and last for at least six months.
- The symptoms are hard to control and can easily shift from topic to topic.
- The anxiety and worry is accompanied by at least three of the following other symptoms:
- Irritability, edginess, or restlessness
- Easily tired or fatigued
- Impaired concentration or the feeling as though your mind is blank
- Difficulty sleeping or restlessness
- Increased muscle tension, aches, or soreness
Social Anxiety Disorder
As the name suggests, social anxiety disorder occurs when someone is experiencing chronic and significant fear of social or performance related situations. You may have fear of becoming embarrassed, rejected, or scrutinized and have anxiety that affects your ability to move forward through the event or situation.
Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by symptoms in three different categories. These categories include: physical, cognitive, and behavioral. Physical symptoms can include: chills, diarrhea, chest pain or tightness, blurred vision, blushing, and dizziness. Everyone has different physical symptoms and the symptoms highlighted are only a few of the physical symptoms that you may experience.
Cognitive symptoms normally are broken down into three different categories. They are negative beliefs, negative bias, and negative thoughts. Negative beliefs are strongly held beliefs that you are inadequate in social and/or performance-related situations. Negative bias is when you may discount the positive parts of social encounters and magnify other’s social abilities to further your avoidance and fear. Negative thoughts are the automatic negative reactions and evaluations that you put on yourself in social and performance-related situations.
While we all experience stress, PTSD can occur after a traumatic event. Stress is a common issue throughout all of our lives but PTSD is a severe mental health condition that can improve when you pursue treatment.
There are specific criteria that you must meet to be diagnosed with PTSD. The first deals with the stressor itself. You must have experienced it, seen it happen, learned of a family member of close friend that had a terrible accident or death, been threatened, or had repeated exposure due to your profession or hobby (this includes first responders, child advocates, volunteers working on a Suicide Hotline, etc.)
The second is the intrusion symptoms. This can include recurrent, intrusive, and involuntary memories. You may also experience traumatic nightmares or dreams. Dissociative reactions, such as a flashback, can occur in your everyday life. This could be a brief episode all the way to a complete loss of awareness.
The third is avoidance. This is the persistent effort to ensure that you’re no longer in the same situation. This avoidance can be of thoughts and feelings or of people, topics, activities, or situations. Depending on the severity this could be all out avoidance or just a portion of the event, topic, thoughts, or feelings.
How can SilverLake Psychology help?
SilverLake Psychology has hundreds of therapists and many of them are anxiety specialists. Due to the wide range of anxiety disorders that you may be experiencing, it’s important to work with a Matching Expert. Our Matching Experts take the time to listen to you and your story to help you find the ideal therapist for you and your needs!
At SilverLake Psychology we have a diverse set of therapists that can help to provide an authentic therapy experience. We work with dozens of insurance companies and easy billing! With industry-leading customer service and custom-matched therapists, we will help you on your journey of healing! If you’re asking yourself, what’s the best anxiety therapist near me, look no further than SilverLake Psychology!
Anxiety is a common mental health condition that many Americans struggle with on a daily basis. If you believe that you may be experiencing anxiety, we recommend working with a therapist. They can help you to learn your triggers, better understand your symptoms, and help to build coping strategies to help you improve your life. Working with a therapist can help your anxiety and symptoms! Check out SilverLake Psychology and start your journey with a Matching Expert today!