General Anxiety Disorder and other types of Anxiety Treatment in San Diego

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Treating anxiety at Refresh Recovery rehab in San Diego requires understanding, care and knowledge of one’s unique physiology, circumstances and history.

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health problems. They include generalized anxiety disorders, social phobias, specific phobias (for example, claustrophobia and agoraphobia), and panic disorders. Depression is often related to anxiety disorders.

Anxiety disorders are common mental health problems that affect many people. Approximately one fourth of the population have an anxiety disorder that warrants treatment at some time in their life and up to another 25% have less severe anxieties such as fears of insects and mice.

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How much fear and anxiety is normal?

Fear and anxiety are normal and helpful human emotions that help us deal with danger. However, some people experience excessive and irrational worries that become constant and disturbing, interfering with their daily lives. This may indicate an anxiety disorder. Often there appears to be no obvious or logical reason for the way the person feels. This may make an anxiety disorder even more worrying to the patient.

Symptoms of Anxiety

The main features of an anxiety disorder are fears or thoughts that are chronic, distressing and that interfere with daily living. Other symptoms of an anxiety disorder may include avoidance behavior, physical anxiety reactions (nausea, sweating, faintness, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing and trembling) and panic attacks or a fear of these.

A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense terror that may occur in certain situations or for no apparent reason. Panic attacks are a common feature of each type of anxiety disorder. They may be related to a chemical response in the brain, caused by actual threatening or stressful events or by thinking about stressful events. The brain response leads to physiological changes in the body, such as shallow breathing and increased heartbeat.

Panic attacks are frightening. Some people say they feel like they are going to die or lose their minds. They may avoid situations in which they think attacks might occur. In some cases, this may lead to the developing other anxiety disorders like claustrophobia.

Anxiety disorders can affect a person’s ability to work, study and socialize. There are different types of anxiety disorders. These include:

Anxiety disorders are distressing and debilitating. They contribute to loss of educational and employment opportunities and difficulties in family and social relationships.

Generalized anxiety Disorder (GAD)

GAD is excessive anxiety and constant worry about many things. The focus of the anxiety might be romantic relationships, friends, health, work, money or forgetting important appointments. You may be diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder if you find it hard to control your anxiety and if the worry has been prevalent for over half a year. 

Supportive and interpersonal therapy can help with GAD. Cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) has been more researched and specifically targets thoughts, physical symptoms and behaviors including the over-preparation, planning and avoidance that characterizes GAD. Mindfulness based approaches and acceptance commitment therapy are implemented at Refresh Recovery San Diego given its evidence-based options to anxiety.

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Treating Anxiety in California with Utmost Care and Compassion

Anxiety Treatment at Refresh Recovery San Diego

Teaching mental health tools at Refresh Recovery is part of our unique long-term and real life transition focus. Some of our anxiety treatment tools for anxiety disorders include learning about anxiety, relaxation methods, mindfulness, appropriate breathing techniques, cognitive and behavior therapies, counseling, dietary and exercise suggestions, assertiveness, structured problem solving and medication treatment among others.

Learning about Anxiety

Education about anxiety includes examining the physiology of the ‘flight-or-fight’ response, which is the body’s way to deal with impending danger. For people with anxiety disorders, this response is inappropriately triggered by situations that are generally harmless. Education is an important way to promote control over symptoms.

Mindfulness

When feeling anxious, a person can spend a significant amount of time caught up in anxiety-provoking thoughts. Mindfulness guides you to bring the attention back to the present moment and unhook from unwanted thoughts.

Proper breathing

The physical symptoms of anxiety may be triggered by hyperventilation, which raises oxygen levels and reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood. Carbon dioxide assists in the regulation of the body’s reaction to anxiety and panic.
It is good to learn how to breathe from their diaphragm, rather than their chest, to safeguard against hyperventilation. The key is allowing your belly to expand as you breathe.

Cognitive therapy

Cognitive therapy focuses on changing patterns of thinking and beliefs that foster and are linked to anxiety. For example, a person with a social phobia may make their anxiety worse by negative thoughts such as, ‘Everyone thinks I’m problematic’.

The basis of cognitive therapy is that beliefs trigger thoughts, which then trigger feelings and produce behaviors. For example, let us say you believe that you must smile to everyone to feel worthwhile. If someone does not greet you back, you may think, ‘This person hates me’, which makes you feel anxious.

Cognitive therapy strategies include rational ‘self-talk’, reality testing, attention training, cognitive challenging and cognitive restructuring. This includes monitoring your self-talk, challenging unhelpful fears and beliefs, and testing out the reality of dark thoughts.

Behavior and exposure therapy

A major component of behavior therapy is exposure. Exposure therapy involves deliberately confronting your fears to desensitize yourself. Exposure allows you to train yourself to redefine the danger or fear aspect of the situation or trigger.

The steps of exposure therapy may include:

  • Rank your fears in order, from most to least threatening.
  • Think about the feared situation. Imagine yourself experiencing the situation. Analyze your fears.
  • Work out a plan that includes several small steps – for example, gradually decrease the distance between yourself and the object of your fear, or gradually increase the amount of time spent in the feared situation.
  • Stay despite the fear. Use relaxation, breathing techniques and coping statements to help manage your anxiety.
  • Note that nothing bad happened.
  • Repeat the exposure as often as you can to build confidence that you can cope.

Nutrition

Even though nutrition is not currently part of our program at Refresh Recovery, we do suggest keeping specific macronutrient needs met as well as a general understanding of basic stimuli and physiological needs such as sleep and excercise.

Nicotine, caffeine and stimulant drugs (such as those that contain caffeine) trigger your adrenal glands to release adrenaline, which is one of the main stress chemicals. 

Exercise

The physical symptoms of anxiety are caused by the ‘flight-or-fight’ response, which floods the body with adrenaline and other stress chemicals. Exercise burns up stress chemicals and promotes relaxation. At Refresh Recovery we promote an environment and suggested activities that are conducive to a physiological re-education and behaviors supportive to our treatment.

Assertiveness Training

Being assertive means communicating your needs, wants, feelings, beliefs and opinions to others in a direct and honest way. A person with an anxiety disorder may have trouble being assertive because they are afraid of conflict or believe they have no right to speak up. However, relating passively to others lowers self-confidence and reinforces anxiety. Learning to behave assertively is central to developing a stronger self-esteem and at Refresh Recovery we emphasize embracing a healthy and realistic self-esteem from supportive group excercises and a personal understanding by our therapists.

Structured Problem Solving

Some people with anxiety disorders are worriers, who fret about problems rather than solving them. At Refresh Recovery, we will help you to break down a problem into its various components, and then decide on a course of action. This is a valuable skill that can help manage generalized anxiety.  

Other anxiety disorders, depression, or substance abuse often accompany GAD, which rarely occurs alone; co-occurring conditions must also be treated with appropriate therapies and at times with medication assisted treatment. Our clinicians at Refresh Recovery will have the appropriate intake and support to attend the needs of our clients suffering from anxiety disorders and substance use disorders.

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