Anxiety Treatment in Washington, D.C.

Do I Have an Anxiety Disorder?

What Does Anxiety Feel Like?

Are you considering treatment for anxiety? Are you unsure if what you’re experiencing is anxiety?

Anxiety is a word we frequently hear when someone is describing temporary nervousness or worry. Being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder basically means that your feelings of nervousness or worry do not seem to ever go away, and that symptoms of anxiety are interfering with your ability to enjoy or engage in the things you want to do.

These symptoms can include:

  • Restlessness or feeling "on-edge"
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating, or mind going blank
  • Irritablility/being easily angered
  • Muscle tension, headaches, or digestive problems
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Feeling that your sleep is not restful

What are the Causes of Anxiety?

As we go through our day, there is a part of our brain called the amygdala that gets to assess every single thing we experience, even before any higher-level-thinking parts of our brains get their hands on it.

The amygdala has the important job of deciding whether something is a threat or not–whether we need to be fearful and get ready to protect ourselves. This initial assessment occurs immediately and unconsciously, as our senses take in information about our surroundings. And that’s usually a good thing, because if we see a hungry lion coming after us or an oncoming car drifting into our lane, we need our brains and bodies to react fast!

Unfortunately, the amygdala doesn’t always know how strongly to react to the things we face in our modern daily lives, and would rather “play it safe” than ignore something that turns out to be dangerous. Therefore, there are a lot of things that get tossed into the “threat” category throughout our day, leaving us to deal with emotional and physical reactions of stress, fear, and anxiety as we handle intense workloads, negative comments from bosses, arguments with loved ones, getting cut-off in traffic, or concern about finances.

For those of us who have experienced trauma, our brains and bodies may think we are never safe anymore, and will stay in a near-constant state of alarm. For others, it might be that we tend to imagine the worst or be very hard on ourselves, perhaps because we’ve experienced a lot of unpredictability, criticism, or other sources of stress–or we may have even been born with this anxiety.

For one reason or another, our brains may have learned that we need to stay on-guard and prepare for crisis–even if that crisis is a disappointing grade on an exam rather than a hungry lion.

What can I do about my anxiety?

There are many activities that people utilize to manage anxiety, such as regular exercise or getting into a meditation routine. If you decide you need additional help from a professional, you might find some relief in having a place to slow down and talk through the things you’re feeling anxious about.

How does therapy help?

A therapist might work with you to develop new coping skills, such as reframing anxious thoughts in a more realistic light. You might also use time in therapy to examine beliefs about yourself or the world that are contributing to anxious thoughts, and where those beliefs came from. 

Many patients are able to improve their anxiety symptoms significantly by working with a therapist. Because therapy includes treating the causes of anxiety, such as long-ago experiences as well as current patterns of thinking, research shows that it is always included in the most effective and longest-lasting treatments for anxiety. In certain cases, your symptoms might not improve with therapy alone, and your therapist will refer you to see a doctor to see whether the addition of medication will be helpful.

If you feel that therapy might help you, reach out to us for an initial therapy consultation.

Contact us today about finding a therapist who is a fit for you.

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