When it comes to anxiety, there is more to the story than just “being worried.” While stressful events – whether happy like preparing for a wedding or discouraging like losing a job – can trigger anxiety, these worries typically alleviate themselves after the event has passed. For those with an anxiety disorder, persistent feelings of worry, fear, and impending doom can affect everyday life. Simple tasks like going to work or the grocery store become increasingly difficult, creating a decline in mental health.
According to a 2022 report, 30% of Texans reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression with unmet needs in therapy or counseling. SUN Behavioral Health Houston is bridging the gap in anxiety treatment by providing program options and resources for anyone who needs them. Texas is ranked 50th in the United States for mental health providers, and SUN Houston is here to help solve those unmet needs within our communities.
An anxiety disorder is classified as a mental health condition typically presenting with persistent feelings of worry and dread. There are different types of anxiety disorders, including:
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) – people with GAD respond differently to everyday stress. A big project at work is stressful, but for people with GAD, the stress will continue before, during, and after the project is complete. This reaction to stress occurs throughout everyday tasks and can last for months.
Social anxiety disorder – an intense fear of being watched or judged by others. People living with social anxiety disorder feel overwhelming fear when put into social situations, such as going to the store or even attending work.
Panic disorder – characterized by panic attacks. People living with panic disorder can become triggered when there is no clear danger present. The body responds by inducing a panic attack, a bout of intense fear and discomfort, usually with shortness of breath and a racing heartbeat. These attacks can occur as often as several times a day to as little as a few times a year.
Phobia-related disorder – while having a phobia of something – for example spiders – is normal, when the phobia begins interfering with life, it is seen as a disorder. A common phobia is agoraphobia, which consists of the fear of public spaces, going outside the home, or being in a crowd.
Treating anxiety disorders is not one size fits all. SUN Behavioral Houston is able to diagnose different anxiety disorders and treat them on an individual basis to provide the best outcomes. Our team can also identify other mental health conditions that may be present with anxiety.
Anxiety disorders are the most commonly diagnosed mental health condition. Approximately 30% of adults are affected by an anxiety disorder throughout their lives. While they are more prevalent in women, anxiety can affect any gender and age range. SUN Behavioral Houston understands that different age groups will require different treatment methods. Our facility offers programs for children, teens, women, and adults.
Anxiety can cause different symptoms depending on the type. The most common symptoms of anxiety include:
Not all of these symptoms will present at the same time and not all will be experienced. When these symptoms become everyday occurrences or begin disrupting work, school, or relationships, it is time to talk to a doctor. SUN Behavioral Health Houston has a team of psychiatrists that are able to navigate your symptoms and give you a diagnosis that will get you on the path to treatment and relief.
While a definitive cause for anxiety disorders has not been discovered, there are factors that can lead to its development. Those who have a direct relative, such as a parent or sibling, who has been diagnosed with anxiety are more likely to develop an anxiety disorder. Experiencing trauma, chronic stress, or abuse has been linked to children and adults developing anxiety disorders. Certain physical conditions, such as thyroid disease, can cause hormonal imbalances leading to anxiety. Lastly, certain personality traits such as being overly shy, can increase the risk of developing anxiety.
There is no definition of an anxiety attack, however; many describe being overcome by anxiety symptoms as an attack. When a person has anxiety, certain scenarios such as going shopping can trigger more intense feelings of fear or worry than just sitting on the couch at home. This increase in feelings can cause nausea, headaches, and a rapid heartbeat and can be described as an anxiety attack.
A panic attack is not the same as an intense feeling of anxiety. A panic attack can happen at any time, and feelings of anxiety may not even be present at the onset. These attacks occur quickly and are coupled with terror or fear as well as shortness of breath and sweating. Sometimes, the trigger is not easily identifiable, and an attack can occur with no present danger. They typically last only 10-15 minutes and can occur as many as several times a day.
Only a doctor can diagnose an anxiety disorder. They will go over your symptoms and rule out any other medical conditions before putting together a definitive diagnosis. Your family doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist for further testing and treatment. SUN Houston has a staff of medical professionals as well as licensed therapists for complete comprehensive anxiety disorder treatment and management.
Different anxiety disorders will require different treatment methods. At SUN Behavioral Health Houston, we work with each individual to come up with a plan that will be most effective for them. Typically, the first go-to for anxiety treatment is therapy. Here at SUN, we use a combination of talk therapy which includes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In talk therapy, you will work through past traumas and identify your specific anxiety triggers. CBT works to redirect thought patterns and change the way you respond to situations of stress or difficulty. Using this therapy method, our patients develop healthy coping skills and habits to promote a healthy lifestyle.
Medications can help certain people with symptoms of anxiety. You will work with our team to find out if medication is right for you and find which ones are best suited to your needs. Not everyone with an anxiety disorder will need medication, and the professionals at SUN Houston can help decide if it is right for you.
Unique to SUN Behavioral Houston is electroconvulsive therapy treatment (ECT). ECT involves stimulating or hindering brain activity through electrodes or magnetic fields. This is a medical procedure done in a hospital environment. This treatment has been proven effective in those who have been hospitalized multiple times for anxiety and can be life-changing for those who have found no relief. Dr. Michael J. Barber is the medical director of SUN Houston’s ECT program and has been using this treatment for over 20 years with numerous success stories.
Those coping with anxiety on their own may turn to substance use in order to self-medicate their symptoms. When in a treatment program, therapy and medication can help alleviate anxiety symptoms.
There is no definitive cause of anxiety, but certain factors such as genetics, environment, and trauma can contribute to causing an anxiety disorder.
The amygdala, hypothalamus, and thalamus are mostly responsible for emotional regulation and can be triggered by anxiety.
Having an anxiety disorder doesn’t have to define who you are. At SUN Behavioral Health Houston, our team of dedicated professionals will help you navigate treatment options and give you the skills needed to take back your life. Call us today at 713-796-2273 to learn more about our anxiety treatment options.