It Takes a Village Africa_611.jpg

Question: What are the major types of anxiety disorder?

Answer: The major types of anxiety disorder are:

  1. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). People with GAD worry excessively about ordinary, day-to-day issues, such as health, money, work, and family. Women with GAD may have muscle ten­sion and other stress-related physical symptoms, such as trouble sleeping or upset stomach.

  2. Panic disorder. People with panic disorder have sudden attacks of terror when there is no actual danger. Panic attacks may cause a sense of unre­ality, a fear of impending doom, or a fear of losing control. People having panic attacks some­times believe they are having heart attacks, losing their minds, or dying.

  3. Social phobia. Social phobia, also called social anxiety disorder, is diagnosed when people become very anxious and self-conscious in every­day social situations. People with social phobia have a strong fear of being watched and judged by others. They may get embarrassed easily and often have panic attack symptoms.

  4. Specific phobia. A specific phobia is an intense fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. Specific phobias could be fears of closed-in spaces, heights, water, objects, animals, or spe­cific situations. People with specific phobias often find that facing, or even thinking about facing, the feared object or situation brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety.


Question: How are anxiety disorders treated?

Answer: Often, treatment includes counseling (called psy­chotherapy), medicine, or a combination of the two. Psychotherapy is talking to a trained mental health professional about what caused your anxiety disorder and how to deal with the symptoms. It may involve cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT may help you change the thinking pattern around your fears and change the way you react to situations that create anxiety.

Question: What if my treatment is not working?

Answer: Sometimes, you may need to work with your doctor to try several different treatments or combinations of treatment before you find one that works for you.

Although anxiety can have a negative impact on one's life, it can be managed. Neal-Barnett gives the following tips on how to overcome anxiety:

Become aware of our anxiety and combat it

"Some anxiety motivates us. It makes us better people. But there are some people where their anxiety interferes with their lives. And when it interferes with your life, that is when anxiety becomes a disorder."

Call it what it is

"You have to put a name to it: 'I have social anxiety. I have panic attacks.' By calling it what it is, you can then accept what is happening to you. By accepting what is happening to you, you can figure out how to deal with your anxiety, what is triggering your anxiety and the best route to manage your anxiety."

Figure out how to counteract your anxiety

"When we are anxious, a lot of times it is because our mind is keeping us anxious. We have to learn to recognize we are doing anxious thinking and then empty our minds of anxious thoughts. We teach people to recognize that their thinking is anxious, and then we teach them how to change that thinking through cognitive restructuring. We use musical cognitive restructuring. In our research, we have had our subjects find a song or write/record a theme song so that when they recognize the anxious thinking, what they then do is use their theme song to push out the anxious thoughts and replace with them positive thoughts. Some people do puzzles. Some will say a prayer. Find what works for you."

Don't be afraid to ask for help

"There is no shame in asking for help. Anxiety is quite easy to treat; particularly if your anxiety is treated early. It is treatable and you can reclaim your life. Find someone who understands your issues or find a therapist. Cognitive behavior therapy is the best therapy. Some do it with a combination of therapy and medication. Medication kind of takes the edge off the anxiety, but to truly overcome your anxiety, you really have to do the psychological work."