Phone: (510) 428-0111
DEPRESSION / MARITAL
CONFLICT / ANXIETY / STRESS / CHRONIC
Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses
affecting both children and adults.
disorders may develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics,
brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
40 million adult Americans suffer from anxiety disorders, which cause
significant impairment in social, occupational or other areas of life
with an anxiety disorder are three-to-five times more likely to go to
a doctor with a medical complaint and six times more likely to be hospitalized
for psychiatric disorders than non-sufferers.
disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering
from an anxiety disorder receive treatment.
Anxiety disorders are categorized as:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD is characterized
by excessive, unrealistic worry that lasts six months or more. The anxiety
may focus on issues such as health, money, or career. In addition to
chronic worry, GAD symptoms include restlessness, trembling, muscle
tension, insomnia, abdominal upset, difficulty concentrating, dizziness,
irritability, and fatigue.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In OCD,
individuals are plagued by persistent, recurring thoughts or images
(obsessions) that cause significant anxiety or fear. Typical obsessions
include worry about being contaminated or fears of behaving improperly
or acting violently. The obsessions may lead to an individual performing
a ritual or routine (compulsions) such as washing hands, repeating phrases
or hoarding in order to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsession.
Panic Disorder. People with panic disorder suffer
severe attacks of panic for no apparent reason which may make them feel
like they are having a heart attack or are going crazy. Symptoms include
heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea, sweating, shortness of breath,
trembling, dizziness, fear of dying, fear of losing control, and feelings
of unreality. Panic disorder often occurs with agoraphobia, in which
people are afraid of having a panic attack in a public place from which
escape would be difficult, so they avoid these places.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD often
follows after an exposure to a traumatic event such as a sexual or physical
assault, war, a car accident, a natural disaster, witnessing a death,
or the unexpected death of a loved one. These events initially cause
intense fear or horror, followed by four main symptoms associated with
PTSD: "re-living" of the traumatic event (such as flashbacks
and nightmares); avoidance behaviors (such as avoiding places related
to the trauma) emotional numbing (detachment from others); and physiological
arousal (such as insomnia, irritability, poor concentration, or becoming
Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia). Those
suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder experience extreme anxiety about
being judged by others or acting in a way which might cause embarrassment
or ridicule in social or performance situations. This intense anxiety
may lead to avoidance of social situations. Physical symptoms associated
with this disorder may resemble panic disorder: heart palpitations,
faintness, blushing and profuse sweating.
Phobia. People with specific phobia suffer from an intense and persistent
fear reaction to a specific object or situation (such as flying, heights,
insects, or seeing blood). The level of fear is usually inappropriate
to the situation, and is recognized by the sufferer as being irrational.
The initial reaction includes panic symptoms, and this inordinate fear
can lead to the avoidance of common, everyday situations.
Anxiety disorders are highly treatable with psychotherapy
under the care of a qualified Psychologist.
Different forms of psychotherapy used in the
treatment of anxiety disorders include psychodynamic psychotherapy,
cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, and relaxation
Drugs used to treat anxiety disorders include
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), new classes of anti-depressant
medications, tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines, beta blockers,
and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
Combination therapies are often utilized (psychotherapy
In Psychodynamic therapy, one goal is to help
an individual understand unconscious conflicts which may be causing
their anxiety. Often, there are unresolved issues from childhood which
have continued into adulthood that are at the root of their anxiety.
The mode of this type of therapy is to explore thoughts, emotions, relationships,
behaviors, and dreams. This process can help an individual understand
and come to terms with their conflicts, which can in turn decrease their
In Cognitive behavioral therapy, one goal is
to decrease the anxiety which an individual may be experiencing in their
body by using different techniques to desensitize them to feared situations.
Another goal is to teach the individual how to recognize and cope with
anxious thoughts and feelings to prevent them from spiraling out of
In Exposure therapy, the goal is to gradually
expose an individual to situations that bring about their anxiety reaction
in order to decrease and eventually eliminate that reaction. This is
done in the psychologist's office through imagery exercises, but eventually
may involve actually going to public places that are feared by the patient.
Relaxation techniques used to treat anxiety disorders
include: progressive relaxation, guided imagery, hypnosis, meditation