In the lives of those experiencing anxiety, anxiety has almost always served a purpose as a survival function at some point. Some anxiety can even produce desirable results, as it can motivate individuals to complete needed tasks, to perform at their best, or to recognize safety risks. Most successful, motivated individuals have likely had some degree of anxiety that helped them push themselves to where they are now. Anxiety becomes a problem when it is pervasive, distressing, or leads to inhibiting behaviors, likely due to an altered perception of the world.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias (including social anxiety), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and panic attack disorder are all anxiety disorders that people seek treatment for. There are many overlaps in symptoms between these various diagnoses.

Should i seek therapy for my anxiety?

  • I am consistently worried or anxious about a number of events or activities in my daily life.

  • I have excessive worrying more days that not that I feel like I cannot control.

  • I feel restless and on edge.

  • I am easily startled and jumpy.

  • I experience frequent muscle tension, headaches, or nausea.

  • I have difficult falling asleep or staying asleep.

  • I sometimes experience trembling, racing thoughts, sweating, and heart palpitations.

  • I have worries that I know are unreasonable, but I cannot stop them.

  • I am easily startled and jumpy.

  • I regularly have nightmares, sometimes related to my worries.

  • I am always looking out for danger around me.

  • I avoid places, people, or activities that remind me of my fears or worries.

  • It is difficult to accomplish tasks that I need to due to my anxiety.

  • My fears dominate my thoughts and form unrealistic conclusions.

  • I sometimes experience paranoid feeling, such as thinking that the entire world is unsafe and that everyone is “out to get me.”

If you can relate to more than one of the statements above, you should consider seeking therapy or additional support. 

what causes anxiety? 

Anxiety is likely caused by a myriad of factors, including genetics (family members passing anxiety down), abnormal levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, and environmental factors such as trauma (abuse, accidents, community violence), working high-stress jobs in pressured environments, or difficult family dynamics. Anxiety can often spur on depression, as an anxiety-saturated view of the world and life can lead to feelings of hopelessness. Anxiety can often lead to substance abuse as a means to cope, particularly for those experience social anxiety or those who experience a high level of stress and struggle to find other means of relaxation. Substance use can actually exacerbate the effects of anxiety, particularly when one is withdrawing from a substance. 

support for anxiety

A common form of therapy for anxiety disorders is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which helps individuals identify their triggers to anxiety and the connected thought patterns all for the purpose of creating new ways to think and respond in anxiety-inducing situations. The therapist also teaches grounding techniques, coping skills, and relaxation methods to use when triggered. As individuals practice these new skills and ways of thinking, they gradually form new neural pathways, which makes the newer, healthier responses easier and more natural with time. The body’s anxiety response becomes less activated and utilized as a result, decreasing over time as well. Sometimes, psychotropic medication can be a helpful support; individuals can consult with their primary care physician or psychiatrist to discuss medication options.

Next, read about Therapy for Teens in Orange County.