Anxiety and Stress

It's our professional opinion that the best treatment for anxiety is a combination of  Christian Counseling and, in some cases, medication. For those taking anti-anxiety medications and also for those suffering from anxiety and who don't wish to take drugs, we can often help in the following ways: we can help you identify your anxiety triggers and lessen their control, we can teach a variety of relaxation techniques, we can educate you and your family about anxiety, we can help you replace negative self-talk with positive coping self-talk, we can teach you how to deal with anxiety's symptoms, and teach you how to manage stress.

Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety just doesn't go away, and it can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships. There are several different types of anxiety disorders, and we explain some of the most common.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Panic Attacks

Social Anxiety

When Stress Turns into Distress

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Work and Anxiety, Stress and Burnout

Strategies for Stress Management

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is a normal part of life. You might worry about things like work, money, or family problems. But people with generalized anxiety disorder feel extremely worried or feel nervous about these and other things, even when there isn't a reason to worry about them. People with generalized anxiety disorder often display excessive anxiety or worry for months and face several anxiety-related symptoms. People with generalized anxiety disorder can find it difficult to control their anxiety or to stay focused on daily tasks.  Symptoms may get better or worse at different times, and they are often worse during times of stress. Those with Generalized Anxiety Disorder are often excessively nervous about everyday circumstances. The person who is suffering from generalized anxiety disorder can experience many of the following symptoms. They can:

Feel wound-up, restless, or on edge and have trouble relaxing 
Have difficulty concentrating or having their minds go blank 
Have muscle tension 
Experience difficulty controlling their worry or feelings of nervousness
Worry very much about everyday things
Know that they worry much more than they should 
Easily startle 
Have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep 
Feel tired all the time and be easily fatigued 
Have headaches, muscle aches, stomach aches, or unexplained pains
Have a hard time swallowing
Tremble or twitch 
Be irritable or feel "on edge" 
Sweat a lot
Feel light-headed or out of breath 

The good news is that Generalized Anxiety Disorder is treatable. Make an appointment with your doctor or to talk with a counselor. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is usually treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. Make an appointment to speak with a counselor about your symptoms.

Panic Attacks 

People who experience panic attacks have unexpected sudden attacks of intense fear that last for several minutes or longer. Panic attacks are characterized by a fear of disaster, even when there is no real danger. Many report their panic attack feels like they are having a heart attack. Panic attacks can occur at any time, and many people who suffer from panic attacks worry about the possibility of having another attack.

A person may also have a strong physical reaction during a panic attack. Symptoms may include palpitations, pounding heart, accelerated heart rate, sweating, depersonalization, trembling or shaking, sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, choking, numbness, derealization, and fear of death. 

Panic attacks are scary and debilitating. Sometimes a person with panic disorder can't carry out normal routines like going to work or driving. Untreated, panic attacks can lower your quality of life because it can lead to other mental health disorders. Panic disorder is usually treated with counseling and/or medication.  

These attacks occur at unpredictable times, often with no apparent trigger. This causes those burdened with panic disorders to worry about the possibility of having another panic attack at any random time. Some who suffer from panic attacks carry their prescribed anti-anxiety medications with them wherever they go. They report that having the medication with them at all times quells their worry about having another panic attack. When they feel a panic attack starting, they simply take their medicine, which prevents the full-fledged panic attack. 

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder is much more than just being shy. It's a severe mental health condition. Fortunately, treatment can help you overcome your symptoms, so social anxiety doesn't have to stop anyone from living a fulfilled life. 

The sufferer of social anxiety is afraid that they will be humiliated, embarrassed, or rejected. It is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. A person with social anxiety disorder feels awkward in social situations, such as meeting new people, dating, being on a job interview, or even having to talk to a cashier in a store. It also gets in the way of doing everyday things such as giving a speech, playing a sports game, or being on stage. 

They find it scary and difficult to be with other people, especially those they don't already know.  They feel highly anxious about being around other people so they can have a hard time talking to them even though they wish they could.  Social anxiety can also make it hard to make and keep friends. Sometimes, they end up staying away from places or events because they think they might have to do something that will embarrass them. The fear that people with social anxiety disorder have is so intense that they feel it is beyond their ability to control. People with social anxiety disorder often worry about things for weeks before they happen.

They tend to show the following physical symptoms: they blush, sweat, tremble around other people, feel their heart racing, feel nauseous or sick to their stomach. They experience their mind going blank; they make minimal eye contact or speak with a very soft voice. 

When Stress turns to Distress

We all feel stressed from time to time. Stress affects everyone to some degree, and some people are more resilient and better at handling their stress than others. Some people may cope with stress more effectively or recover from stressful events more quickly than others. A stressor may be a one time or short term occurrence, or it can be an occurrence that keeps happening over a long time.  If you're overwhelmed by stress, talk with your doctor or make an appointment to see a mental health professional like a counselor or psychiatrist. The effects of stress tend to build up over time. It is necessary to know how to deal with stressful events so that you know when to get help.

There are different types of stress, all of which carry physical and mental health risks. Stress can cause high blood pressure and even heart attacks. Different people may feel stress in different ways. For example, some people experience digestive symptoms like irritable bowel syndrome, while others may have headaches, insomnia, anger, or irritability. Over time, the continued strain on your body from stress may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses, as well as mental disorders like depression or anxiety.

Pressures from work, school, family, or other daily responsibilities can cause stress. Daily stress may be the hardest type of stress to notice because its source tends to be more constant than in cases of traumatic stress. So your body doesn't get a clear signal to return to normal functioning. You must learn and recognize the signs of your body's response to stress.  Some symptoms include:  difficulty sleeping, increased alcohol and other substance use, being easily angered, feeling depressed, and having low energy.

Besides routine stress, stress caused by a sudden negative traumatic change, caused by an event like a major accident, war, death, assault, a tornado, losing a job, divorce, or illness can be physically and mentally devastating and debilitating. 

Taking practical steps to manage stress can reduce or prevent these harmful effects. The following are some tips that may help to cope with stress:

Learn some stress management techniques. Get regular exercise. Just simply walking 20-30 minutes per day can help boost your mood and reduce stress. Take a walk on a beach or in a park. Stay connected with friends and family for emotional support. Explore stress coping programs. Learn to say no to new tasks if they are putting you into overload. To reduce stress, get help from religious organizations. Pray more.

Stress management techniques can help you with anxiety disorders, calm yourself, and even enhance the effects of therapy.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health problem in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions), which they feel an urge to repeat over and over. Obsessions are repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels compelled to do in an attempt to reduce the anxiety caused by obsessive thought. These symptoms can interfere with all aspects of their lives, like work, school, and personal relationships. OCD is typically treated with medication and counseling or a combination of the two. Although most patients with OCD respond to treatment, some patients continue to experience symptoms.

The specific causes of OCD are unknown, but risk factors include a combination of genetics, brain anatomy and physiology, and environment. People who have experienced physical or sexual abuse in childhood or other trauma are at an increased risk for developing OCD.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders symptoms include:  Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off. Fear of germs or contamination. Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, and harm. 
Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing. Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way. Compulsive counting. Aggressive thoughts towards others or self. Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order.

A person with OCD generally: Can't control his or her thoughts or behaviors, even when those thoughts or behaviors are excessive.  They spend at least 1 hour a day on these thoughts or behaviors. Doesn't get pleasure when performing the routines or rituals, but can sometimes feel relief from the anxiety caused by the thoughts. They experience significant problems in their daily life due to these thoughts or behaviors.

Some individuals with OCD also have a tic disorder. Motor tics are sudden, brief, repetitive movements, such as eye blinking and other eye movements, facial grimacing, shoulder shrugging, and head or shoulder jerking. Common vocal tics include repetitive throat-clearing, sniffing, or grunting sounds.

Symptoms may come and go, ease over time, or worsen. People with OCD may try to help themselves by avoiding situations that trigger their obsessions, or they may use alcohol or drugs to self medicate.  Although most adults with OCD recognize that what they are doing doesn't make sense, some adults and most children have very little insight. They don't realize that their behavior is out of the ordinary.

For decades, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) was classified as an anxiety disorder in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders.  When the DSM-5 was published, OCD was reconceptualized and became a standalone diagnosis, 
and no longer considered an anxiety disorder.  See Scrupulosity- a quasi-spiritual. 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The main treatments for people with PTSD are medications and counseling, often both. 

PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.  Some experiences, like the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one, being in combat, or other life-threatening situations, can also cause PTSD.  People with PTSD may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger.

It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Nearly everyone will experience some reaction after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. 

Not every traumatized person develops chronic or even short term acute PTSD.  Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Symptoms usually begin within three months of the traumatic incident, but sometimes they are delayed and begin years afterward. Symptoms must last more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work to be considered PTSD. Some people recover from PTSD within six months, while others have symptoms that last much longer. In some people, the condition becomes very long term.

Some people develop PTSD vicariously, after a friend or family member experiences danger or harm. But it's important to remember that not everyone who lives through a dangerous event develops PTSD. Most people will not develop the disorder.

PTSD symptoms include:  Flashbacks, Bad dreams, Having angry outbursts, Frightening thoughts, Feeling on edge or tense, Distorted feelings, Loss of interest in enjoyable activities, Easily triggered startle response, Sleep problems, Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event, Negative thoughts about oneself.    Depression, substance abuse, anxiety, and other mental health problems are often co-morbid with PTSD>.

Risk factors make a person more likely to develop PTSD. In contrast, resilience factors can help reduce the risk of the disorder.

Risk Factors include:  Living through dangerous events and traumas and getting hurt or witnessing another person get hurt or viewing a dead body.  Childhood trauma can also contribute to PTSD. Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear. Having little or no social support after the event. Dealing with extra stress after the stressor, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home. Having a history of mental illness or substance abuse

Resilience factors include:  Seeking out support from other people, such as friends and family, and attending a support group after a traumatic event, learning to feel good about one's actions in the face of danger, having a positive coping strategy, or a way of getting through the unfortunate event and learning from it, being able to act and respond effectively despite feeling fear.

Work and Anxiety, Stress, and Burnout

Often we can help with reducing work-related stress, burnout, and making complex work-related decisions. You may become able to find career satisfaction, productivity, success, and learn how your job can damage the lives of family and friends outside of work.

We work with people suffering from job-related adjustment disorders. CCofTex doesn't administer aptitude tests or provide career placement.

Everyone encounters stress during their lives - never-ending bills, demanding schedules, work, and family responsibilities.  These can make stress seem inescapable and uncontrollable. 

Stress management skills can help you take control of your thoughts and emotions as well as teach you healthy ways to cope with problems.

Strategies for Stress Management

The first step in stress management is to identify your stressors. While this sounds fairly easy, most people don't realize how their habits contribute to their stress. Maybe work pressure isn't from your actual job demands, but more so from your procrastination. You have to claim responsibility for the role you play in creating your stress, or you won't be able to fix it.

Once you've found what causes your stress, focus on what you can control. Eliminate the realistic stressors and develop consistent de-stressing habits. Instead of watching TV or responding to texts in bed after work - take a walk, or read a book. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough quality sleep, will ease feelings of stress and help you relax.

Also, make a conscious effort to set aside time for yourself and relaxation. Alone time can be whatever you need it to be. Some people like doing activities such as reading or journaling, but you can also treat yourself to something simple, like listening to music or watching a funny movie.

Finally, don't feel like you have to solve your stress on your own. Reach out to your family and friends. Whether you need help with a problem or just need someone to listen, find a person who will be there to reinforce and support you positively. If stress becomes chronic, don't hesitate to seek the help of a counselor.

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