Anxiety and phobias

Everyday life is really demanding for most people and even simple everyday tasks may be very time and energy consuming for an individual. Under those circumstances, people are often unable to deal with the burden that comes along with all these obligations and tasks, so they may turn to a mental health professional for extra help concerning their stress. Anxiety, as well as depression, may take many forms, either obvious or not. Most of the times we tend to confuse anxiety with fear, because in most cases they coexist. Some forms of anxiety are:

  • Social anxiety (the type of anxiety that comes when we have to interact with other people, or speak or eat in front of other people, or participate in social events or conversations etc.)
  • Panic or panic attacks (an extreme manifestation of anxiety with intense bodily sensations which create the sense of dying, or going crazy or the sense that a heart attack or a stroke might happen)
  • Anxiety about certain things or situations- special phobia (e.g. airplanes, heights, small rooms, spiders, needles etc.)
  • Generalized anxiety (anxiety about many different everyday situations)
  • Obsessive anxiety (anxiety about a certain situation, which does not concern everyday life and most of the times is accompanied by a certain mental or physical behavior- compulsion)
  • Post- traumatic stress (anxiety that follows a traumatic event)

 

  • When does my stress need attention?

Stress is a normal reaction of our bodies and it is useful to some extent because it keeps us motivated and safe from external threats. However, stress becomes pathological when the individual is no longer able to control or restrain it, when it brings on weird or disturbing thoughts, when it takes the form of panic attacks or when there are bodily sensations that cannot be explained by a medical condition or other medical tests.

  • When does my stress go unnoticed?

Stress, as mentioned above, may take some less obvious forms and go unnoticed from the individual. One type of “hidden” stress are bodily symptoms or syndromes that cannot be attributed to another medical cause (e.g. a bacterial, germ, chronic disease, substances etc.). Another manifestation of “hidden” stress is any kind of disturbance in one’s sleep, diet/ metabolism, stamina, sexual efficiency or any behavioral change leading in substance abuse of any kind (alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, medicines etc.).

  • Can I deal with my stress solely with psychotherapy or do I need to take up medication?

Stress can be dealt with psychotherapy, with medication and/ or combination of both. The main difference is that medication can only decrease bodily symptoms of stress but cannot solve the problem. The most effective type of therapy for anxiety is psychotherapy, which can be combined with pharmacotherapy for better results. Taking up medication also depends on the coexistence of another physical or mental disorder.

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