Anxiety can be caused by your genetic makeup, traumatic experiences, or behavior learned during your childhood. 

If you respond to basic stresses by worrying excessively or feeling extremely upset and anxious, you might have a genetic predisposition to anxiety. Or you may have had a parent who overprotected you in their efforts to keep you safe in the world, resulting in your continuing apprehension. 

Two therapeutic options that help to decrease anxiety: 

  • Cognitive-Behavioral therapy (CBT) methods help you get in touch with how your thinking habits increase anxiety, and offers written exercises and simple homework to help you manage anxiety. 
  • Insight-oriented methods, commonly known as traditional ‘talk-therapy,’ provide a safe, supportive environment for you to express your thoughts and feelings, and address core emotional factors that may be contributing to your anxiety. 

We will explore which approaches work best for your situation and personality.

Types of Anxiety Disorders:

  • Panic Disorder - involves sudden and intense physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath and sweating, accompanied by fears of having a heart attack, going crazy, or dying. 
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder - chronic anxiety that lasts for months or years. The symptoms do not include panic attacks, phobias, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) symptoms, agoraphobia or medical issues, and involve many social situations and excessive worry that interfere with your daily life. 
  • Social Phobia or Social Anxiety Disorder - Social phobia can be either general (a wide range of social situations in which you feel you could be judged, e.g., social gatherings, talking with authority figures, participating in group discussions, etc.) or a specific phobia, such as fear of eating in public, blushing, writing or speaking in public, or airplanes, animals, elevators, etc. 
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - involves an intense range of feelings, emotions and behavior following exposure to a traumatic situation in which you felt helpless and feared that you could die. PTSD can result from a natural disaster such as an earthquake or fire, an accident or physical/emotional violence. The symptoms include repetitive thoughts about the event, “flashbacks” (feeling that the event is recurring), nightmares, being easily startled, avoiding reminders of the trauma, or feeling emotionally numb or detached. 
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - repetitive thoughts and feeling a compulsion to repeat behaviors that may seem totally irrational, but make perfect sense to the individual with OCD. Constant hand washing or checking that doors are locked are two well known examples of OCD behaviors, but having obsessive thoughts without compulsive behaviors is typical.          
  • Agoraphobia - fear of crowded places, confined spaces, public transportation, or being home alone. This disorder often begins with fears of having a panic attack, and thus, avoiding social situations. Over time, a person will increasingly avoid social situations until the only place they feel safe is at home.

Common Ways to Help Decrease Anxiety

  • Minimize stress causing anxiety (see Stress Management)
  • Eliminate caffeine and sugar intake 
  • Eat a balanced diet 
  • Exercise regularly
  • Meditate daily 
  • Practice deep breathing exercises 
  • Get support from people you trust