Recognizing Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is an emotional state that transcends societies and cultures; virtually everyone has experienced the cold sweat, racing heartbeat, and restlessness that accompany it. Experiencing anxiety is normal and even expected, but too much exposure can have deleterious effects on your psyche. 


In 2016, the global prevalence of anxiety disorders is at 4%, with around 270 million affected worldwide. A finding by the National Institutes of Health estimates that 33.7% of the world population will suffer anxiety disorders at least once in their lifetime. Therefore, recognizing whether you may have anxiety disorders is a good step towards protecting your mental health, given the high prevalence of the condition. 


Signs Of Anxiety Disorders

According to Marla W. Deibler, PsyD “It’s ‘normal’ to experience some degree of anxiety when stressors are unfamiliar, unpredictable, or imminent.” What differentiates anxiety disorders from usual anxiousness is degree: the former is invasive enough that it interferes with day to day activities. Anxiety disorders also impose constant stress on the mind and body, leaving the person vulnerable to more diseases.


Accordingly, the most critical question to ask is whether the anxiety levels are high enough to prevent you from doing what you want. Do you find yourself distracted most of the time? Do you avoid specific activities or shy away from responsibilities out of excessive fear? If so, then these are signs you have unhealthy amounts of anxiousness.


“This is what it boils down to and it extrapolates to any social situation, It can be specific to certain social situations, it can be generalized to all social situations, but the anxiety is about judgement, and ultimately not being approved of and not being liked.” Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist used to say. Aside from activities, anxiety disorders may also manifest in the way you interact with people. It is most apparent in social anxiety disorder, which is characterized by feelings of severe anxiety when interacting with other people. Those affected have fears that they will be perceived as inferior or undesirable in social situations, leading them to avoid interaction as much as possible. It is different from introversion, as the anxiety is pathological and unhealthy.


Anxiety disorders impair the ability to assess stressors accurately. Many people who have these conditions tend to exaggerate the negative consequences of everyday events, living in constant fear of inadequacy and failure. This distorted viewpoint is a paralyzing force that imposes limits on how they can live out their lives. 


Finally, a prominent hallmark of anxiety disorder is persistence. While specific events can trigger the disorder, the resulting anxiety persists long after the stressor is gone. People usually describe this as feelings of dread that refuse to go away completely, consuming a large amount of their time and energy. Constant stress whittles away at their mental health and can lead to even more mental problems in the future, underscoring the need to identify the illness quickly and to seek out treatment.


What To Do

“Anxiety is unavoidable and designed for our survival and protection.”  Melissa Berschauer LMFT said. If you feel you have an anxiety disorder, find a time and place where you can sit down and reflect. Use the criteria mentioned above to assess whether your levels of anxiety are excessive enough to affect your life significantly. You may also ask your loved ones or closest friends to help you with your judgment since your anxiety might cloud your self-assessment.


If you conclude you may have an anxiety disorder, consult a mental health professional, who will ask you questions about your experiences and give you a diagnosis.

Anxiety disorders, once appropriately diagnosed, are highly treatable, with improvements becoming visible even after just a handful of counseling sessions. However, anxiety disorders are underreported like many mental disorders due to a general lack of awareness. Knowing how to identify when anxiety reaches unhealthy levels will help you preserve your mental health and live the life you want.  

Understanding Psychotherapy And How It Treats Panic Disorder



There are different forms of anxiety, and panic is said to be the most extreme form. An individual who panics may be confused, threatened, terrorized, or behaves inappropriately. He may feel that the plane might crash every time he has a scheduled flight, or perhaps trembles at the thought of the mall shaking and breaking down while he’s shopping. 


According to Robert Allison, MA, LPC “When anxiety is at it’s worst and reaches the level of panic it can be debilitating and feel paralyzing. Your mind gets a little too suspicious. Suspicious of what might happen, what could happen, suspicious of other people.”  Often, panic leads to a panic attack, and when one is afraid of experiencing a bout of a panic attack, he is said to be suffering from an illness called panic disorder. Those who cannot control their fears and experience them many times during the day may want the help of a mental health professional so that their anxiety can be managed. 


Psychotherapy Interventions And Techniques


Mental health professionals utilize psychological treatments and practices, such as psychotherapy, a popular method that is used to treat panic disorder. Psychotherapy involves personal interaction to effectively change a mentally ill person’s behavior and help him overcome his mental and emotional issues, including panic attacks. 


“Good psychotherapy is an amazing tool because a skilled therapist can help you discover and learn things that will help you lead a happier, healthier life.”  Dr. Chantal Gagnon PhD LMHC said. Here are some of the most common forms of psychotherapy that are known to be advantageous in decreasing one’s phobias, panics, and anxieties. 


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)


CBT is a type of psychotherapy that utilizes the principles of personal perception. This means that if a person thinks and feels positive, this can greatly impact how he acts and behaves. As per the ‘doctrines’ of CBT, one may not possibly be able to change his situation as fast and as effective as he wants to, but if he desires to be positive amidst life’s challenges, he will surely overcome them. 


Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to alter an individual’s negative thoughts and help shift them to positive behaviors. Presently, it is used for treating and managing panic attacks, PTSD, anxiety, addiction, and other mental health illnesses. 


Panic Focused Psychodynamic Therapy (PFPT)


This form of psychotherapy attempts to treat panic disorder through psychoanalytic principles. According to its concepts, we are what we go through. We become what we experience,and our mental and emotional issues are kept inside our subconscious, which will manifest once our defense mechanisms are down. If they do come out, they can be tackled,and panic attack and anxiety symptoms can be cured or alleviated. Denial, suppression, displacement, and projection are some of the most common defense mechanisms.  “Psychodynamic therapy is insight oriented. In other words, this approach focuses on helping you gain insight into how your early life experiences” Hannah Goodman, LMHC adds.


Family And Couples Therapy


Because anxiety and panic attacks can take a toll on your romantic and family relationships, the therapist’s treatment plan for this type of psychotherapy involves not only the person who has the mental illness but also the persons surrounding him – those that are affected by his condition. Family and couples therapy may not treat panic disorder solely, and education, communication,and other support groups can be utilized as supplementary treatments. 


Group Therapy


This form of psychotherapy entails having a group therapist that is responsible for presiding over the therapy session and leading the group with a structured procedure that would basically consist of stages. The therapist encourages each participant to open up about his fears and anxieties little by little until everyone adapts to the sessions and is no longer intimidated. 


Group therapy has been found to be greatly constructive in that it has decreased the patients’ shame towards others, inspiring them to deal with their illness as they listen to others’ experiences. 




My Psychiatrist Taught Me How To Prevent Another Suicide In The Family


It’s been five years since my older brother died tragically. He committed suicide – shot himself in the head – but it still feels like it was yesterday most nights, especially when I miss him. I still feel the pain, the sadness, and the guilt, for not having known that he was going to do it. I still think about why I didn’t see the signs, and why I didn’tget to say goodbye – because I never knew he would go away just like that. 


I’ve been in therapy for three months now, and I can say that it does help someone like me recover from depression. I actually didn’t know I was still depressed until I started realizing that I wasn’t happy, and that I haven’t gotten over my brother’s death. When I first came to visit my psychiatrist, she said I had to take medications to cure the chemical imbalance in my brain, which apparently caused the depression. Eventually, I felt a little relieved, a little lighter, a little happier.  Just to be clear, “Depression is not a weakness of character, laziness, or a phase. Tough love, like telling someone to ‘buck up’ or ‘try harder,’ doesn’t work, and worsens the illness.” Deborah Serani, PsyD. explains. 


Just the other weekend, I confided to my psychiatrist that Hannah, a cousin, told me that she was depressed – and sometimes she thought about ending her life. I asked for my doctor’s help, as my cousin is still hesitant to consult a professional. My psychiatrist was willing to share some tips to help me help Hannah open up about her issues and perhaps this time preventing another suicide in the family. 


Tips For Preventing Suicide Among Your Loved Ones



  1. Let Her Open Up. Obviously, it would feel uncomfortable if you blurt out your question to your cousin (or any family member for that matter) like, “Are you thinking of suicide right now?” No, it is indeed very difficult to talk about suicide, simply because they know you’ll freak out and maybe call 911. So just approach her when she’s alone and looking ‘far’ from the world. Ask her what the problem is and tell her that you’re there to listen. 



“Sometimes the reasons people don’t recognize the signs of suicide is because they are in denial, especially when it comes to those close to them.”  Torey C. Richards, LMHC used to say. The nearest question you are allowed to ask would be, “How have you been lately? You seem really sad. I know some people have really bad thoughts when they are sad, like not wanting to live anymore. Are you one of those people?” 


That could strike a deeper conversation and possibly let your loved one open up to you, leading you to learn more about how she’s feeling. You could be a great help in this situation, since now you can comfort her and remind her that life is precious and so is she. 



2. Show Them You Truly Care. Don’t let your loved one get the feeling that you’re just snooping around trying to know what she’s really planning to do. Show her that you don’t only sympathize but you empathize as well, meaning that you imagine how it feels like to be in her place and that you truly understand how she’s feeling, especially in my situation where I have experienced losing someone from suicide. Don’t just tell her that there’s more to life than your problems, or that things will get better soon. One thing you should remember is that you cannot control a person’s actions. You can only support her by talking with her and being with her. If she is suffering from substance abuse, which is what has led her to have suicidal thoughts, then offer to accompany her to a therapist. When you are dealing with people who think about taking their lives, talking would probably not be able to stop someone from doing the act, but not talking definitely won’t help either. 



3. Influence Her To Start A Healthy Hobby. This must be a cliché, but it is a fact that starting a healthy habit like exercise can do nothing but good. Invite her to run with you or perhaps bring her along with you when you go to the gym, and then slowly let her try it out. Studies have time and again proven how exercise improves a person’s mental and emotional well-being. “Be supportive and let them know it is not that you think something is wrong with them, but that you want them to have some help with their current challenges. Sometimes, people who are depressed want help but don’t know how to get started.” Vara Saripalli, PsyD. expresses.




4. Don’t Give Up Just Yet. I know it seems hopeless when you see someone who thinks that life is worthless. But you will never know unless you try. Don’t ever give up trying to help. Sometimes, all it takes is someone who will listen and be with them so they would feel important and significant. You may not realize it but when you do and you save someone from taking her life, you might just want to find the next person you want to help. 



Live and learn, everyone, and be happy!


My Husband, The Serial Cheater


What can I say? I’m old, fat, and haggard to say the least. No wonder my husband is cheating on me. Well, he has been cheating on me for the past five years. Moreover, I think he’s played with at least 20 girls. 


He doesn’t get a long-term affair girl, oh no, he’s not that type of cheater. What he wants are the young girls – those cheap beauty queens or models with skinny legs and empty brains aged twenty or twenty-one years old. He charms them and gives them gifts until he gets what he wants. As if I couldn’t give him what he wants, it’s the same thing, right? It’s that thing in between any woman’s legs. But no. He has been playing for so long, and I realized very late that it wasn’t because I was old, fat, or haggard. My husband cheats because he has personal issues, more like mental health issues.


“So much of mental health work is about giving people a space to be witnessed and held while sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of human life.” Lillian Harris LCPC-C


I know what you’re going to say – if you hate your husband so much, then why not leave him? File for a divorce, and get half of his money and properties! Bah!


First off, I don’t hate my husband. I know how your eyebrows are up right now and that you think I’m so stupid. Stop judging me. I’m not dumb either, but I am what you call a loyal and faithful Catholic wife. I’ve known my husband since we were in middle school. We grew up together, and there’s a lot of history there. He wasn’t a cheater like how he is now. In fact, I was his first girlfriend, first kiss, and first everything. We were each other’s “firsts,” that’s why the history and the roots there are deep.


What went wrong? Well, he had an accident six years ago. The doctor said his brain was injured severely and it was a miracle he survived. I was carrying our second-born at that time, and I did feel blessed that he was still with us. Little did I know that his almost fatal car crash would change our lives forever.


He began displaying an odd behavior a few months after he went back from the hospital. My husband became a stranger to me, and I didn’t act on it immediately. I thought it was because of his PTSD and depression, and so I let him go on. I thought I was helping him cope with being understanding and patient. After the accident, he was diagnosed with mental health disorders, and I attributed his illnesses on the way he behaved.

So, do you understand a bit now?


Second, my mind goes back to the idea of how we were before the crash happened. Our family wasn’t perfect, but we were happy. He loved me, and I loved him. Even if we had fights, he would never cheat on me. My husband was the ideal guy. If he didn’t hurt his head, this wouldn’t be happening right now. 


“Recovering from an affair is not impossible, but it takes a lot of work. It takes commitment and a willingness to forgive and move forward.”  – Donna M. White, LMHC, CACP


Is it his fault? No, I believe it’s not. The brain injury makes him do things that he won’t normally do. I didn’t even know that he was cheating on me if he didn’t blurt it out. There are times when he’d be “him,” and he’d be so remorseful that he cheated on me. 


Of course, it hurts. It hurts a lot because I can’t be angry with someone who acts under the influence of his mental health condition. And he begged me over and over again, “Please, don’t leave me.”


If you were in my position, what would you do? I have had issues of my own after the first discovery, and it took me five years to understand and take it all in. It was too much to bear since I had to help myself and help him also. We opted for remote online therapy a few months back, and even if it’s slow, there is progress. “This kind of effort takes a fair amount of commitment and understanding of the online world.” John M. Grohol, Psy.D. used to say.


I learned it the hard way. My husband keeps on saying that it’s not my fault that I didn’t see his mental state slip away. But I’m his old, fat, and haggard wife. I should have seen it from the start and helped him then. At least now, we’re doing something.