Anxiety Treatment in Baton Rouge

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What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is common condition that many people experience.  Anxiety disorders appear in a variety of ways with different symptoms, diagnoses, and treatments.  The best way to treat and cope with these intense feelings is to understand the different types of anxiety disorders and how they can be addressed.

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

GAD, or generalized anxiety disorder, requires little to nothing to provoke exaggerated worry and tension.  This anxiety condition creates chronic anxiety.

Generalized anxiety disorder can be diagnosed in a variety of ways.  A physical examination can identify any anxiety caused by underlying medical conditions, or a complication with your prescription medication.  If there is a medical condition, blood and urine tests can be administered to find a treatment plan.  The DSM-5, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual or Mental Disorders, criteria can also be used to arrive at a diagnosis.

How is Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treated?

Psychological counseling, or psychotherapy, involves a patient working with a therapist to reduce anxiety symptoms.  The most effective type is cognitive behavioral therapy.  While this is typically a short-term treatment, it develops the skills necessary to help you manage your feelings and worries, allowing you to return to the activities that create anxiety.  Medication is another treatment method.  There are a number of medications including most antidepressants and benzodiazepines which can all be effective based on your symptoms.

What is Panic Disorder?

Unexpected and repeated episodes of fear combined with physical symptoms is known as panic disorder.  This anxiety disorder can cause shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dizziness, and chest pain.

Blood tests, a complete physical exam, and a psychological evaluation can all be used to help to determine a panic disorder diagnosis.  The physical exam and tests like an ECG or EKG can help to rule out other physical conditions that resemble panic attacks. Your psychologist can help identify other symptoms, concerns, situations, and other stimuli that can trigger these episodes.

In order for a panic disorder diagnosis to be determined, the DSM-5 uses these symptoms.

  • Panic attacks are not caused by substance use, another mental health condition, or an underlying medical condition.

  • You experience unexpected, frequent panic attacks.

  • You have continued fear of a repeat episode for at least one month.

How is Panic Disorder Treated?

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A combination of therapy and medications can be used to treat panic disorder.  Cognitive behavioral therapy allows you to learn from your own experiences and understand that your panic symptoms are not dangerous.  When you don’t feel threatened by the physical symptoms of a panic attack, the attacks can become less frequent and less severe. 

Certain medications can reduce the symptoms that accompany panic attacks. Selective serotonin reputable inhibitors (SSRIs) have a low risk of serious side effects and are safe and effective for treating panic attacks.  These types of medicine include Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft.  Benzodiazepines can also be used to treat panic disorder.  These sedatives are central nervous system depressants.  Lastly, serotonin and norepinephrine reputable inhibitors (SNRIs) are another class of antidepressants that the FDA has approved for panic disorder treatment.

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts, referred to as obsessions, or repetitive behaviors, called compulsions, obsessive-compulsive disorder can be quite devastating.  Rituals like excessive hand-washing, or repeatedly performing an action like counting provide temporary relief.  Ignoring these urges only serves to increase anxiety.

OCD can be diagnosed a few different ways.  A psychological evaluation where you discuss your thoughts, feelings, behavior patterns, and symptoms.  This will help to determine if you have any compulsions or obsessions that are interfering with your quality of life.  Diagnostic criteria from the DSM-5 can also be applied to arrive at a diagnosis. 

How is OCD Treated?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective treatment option for OCD.  ERP can also be helpful in teaching you how to resist performing your rituals.  Medication can also be prescribed.  Antidepressants are most commonly tried first.  Anafranil , Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and others can be used by adults and children of varying ages. 

What is Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder)?

Overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in normal social settings is referred to as social phobia, also commonly called social anxiety disorder.  Social phobia can be as narrow or broad as these symptoms occur.  From only having a fear of public speaking, or eating in public to having intense anxiety anytime you are around other people, social anxiety disorder can present itself in a variety of ways. 

There are several ways to diagnose social phobia.  Your doctor may have you review a list of situations to see if they make you anxious.  A self-reporting questionnaire about your symptoms can also be beneficial.  The DSM-5 criteria can be applied as well.  Your doctor may also want to conduct a physical exam to determine if a medical condition is triggering your symptoms.

How is Social Anxiety Disorder Treated?

Most people with social anxiety disorder can find relief from their symptoms with psychotherapy.  Cognitive behavioral therapy is a very effective option, it is helpful in both group and individual settings.  Gaining confidence in social situations is a major objective for this treatment plan.  Medication can also be used or combined with therapy to treat social anxiety disorder.  SSRIs and SNRIs are most commonly recommended. 

What is PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)?

PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder.  This is a form of anxiety  that develops after experiencing an event where grave physical harm occurs, or potentially could have.  Examples of these types of events are natural, or human-caused disasters, violent assaults, military combat, or accidents.

In order to diagnose PTSD, your doctor has several options.  A physical exam can identify any medical problems that can potentially cause your symptoms.  A psychological evaluation can determine the events and experiences that are causing your signs and symptoms.  The criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) can also be used to establish a diagnosis.

How is PTSD Treated?

PTSD treatment can help you re-establish a sense of control in your life.  Psychotherapy tends to be the primary course of treatment, but medication can also be included.  Combining varying types of psychotherapy can improve many PTSD symptoms, these therapy types include:

  • Exposure Therapy – Exposure therapy is a behavioral therapy that teach you to safely face frightening memories and situations. This option is specifically helpful for nightmares and flashbacks.  The purpose of this therapy type is to help you effectively cope with these experiences.

  • Cognitive Therapy – There are many cognitive distortions that can make it difficult for you to manage how you respond to PTSD. Risks of another traumatic experience occurring and  negative feelings about yourself are two examples.  Cognitive therapy helps you recognize these harmful ways of thinking and teaches you how to change them.

  • EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) – The process of combining guided eye movements with exposure therapy is called EMDR. This therapy changes how you process traumatic events and memories, and in turn, how you react to them. EMDR has been shown to be especially effective in treating PTSD.

PTSD symptoms can also be improved through prescribed medication, including:

  • Anti-Anxiety Medication – Generally used for a short period of time, this type of medicine relieves severe anxiety.

  • Antidepressants – Antidepressants address the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Selective serotonin reputable inhibitors like Paxil and Zoloft have approval from the FDA to be used as a treatment for PTSD.

Working closely with your doctors will help you find the best course for therapy and medication.  Be sure to share any side effects so that the appropriate adjustments can be made. 

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