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Anxiety and Stress Management

When Worry turns into Anxiety

Posted on: November 15th, 2017 by Dr. Angela Bisignano

Treatments Available in Palos Verdes Estates

We all worry. It’s normal. Worrying has a purpose. It helps motivate us to act, find a solution to our problems, and protect ourselves from unintended consequences. Worrying and anxiety are normal responses to stress. But, excessive worrying heightens your senses and responses, causes muscle tension, and makes you feel jumpy and on edge, irritable and apprehensive.

Feelings of impending doom, helplessness, unease, inability to concentrate and anger are the symptoms of anxiety. When worry turns to anxiety, fear and/or panic that interferes with your life on a daily basis, it’s time to seek the help of a professional psychologist.

Types of anxiety

There are many types of anxiety, but studies show that most anxiety is driven by feelings of being overwhelmed with negative thoughts. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is the most common type of anxiety. GAD is characterized by persistent worry and psychological distress. Symptoms include irritability, restlessness, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, and a general sense of doom that interferes with your life.

Panic Disorder is characterized by recurring panic attacks that cause sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, a pounding heart or rapid heartbeat, and a sense of dread. The attacks come on suddenly and create their own sense worry. Could this happen again? If so, when? It’s easy to understand how this could affect a person’s everyday life.

When you should seek professional help

Psychologists are trained to diagnose and treat anxiety. Dr. Angela Bisignano is a licensed clinical psychologist helping clients in Palos Verdes Estates and Manhattan Beach, CA, with twenty years of experience. She offers evidence-based treatments to help relieve your distress, resolve conflicts, and help you live a more productive, healthier and happier life. 

Anxiety Treatments

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is extremely effective in treating anxiety. CBT is the most widely used treatment for anxiety disorders as it leads to lasting improvements. CBT is designed to restructure your thinking and behavior patterns to reduce negative thoughts and feelings driven by psychological distress; and modify unhealthy behaviors.

CBT requires the client to actively participate in their recovery, which can restore a sense of control and self-confidence. In CBT, you will learn coping skills that are valuable for healthy living. While treatments may be short, they often provide sustainable relief from distress. Many individuals can reduce or eliminate anxiety with a few months of therapy. Of course, every client is different and circumstances vary.

Exposure Therapy is a form of CBT that as the name implies help people to confront their fears through exposure. When people are fearful of something, they may avoid the feared activities or situations. Avoidance is a short-term technique, but may reinforce their fear. Through controlled exposure clients can manage and ultimately conquer their fears.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) teaches acceptance and mindfulness approaches in combination with commitment and behavior change to improve psychological flexibility, and coping skills.

Medication for anxiety

Medications for anxiety include antidepressants to improve mood, and benzodiazepines to promote relaxation and reduce muscle tension, and other physical symptoms of anxiety. Medications can help reduce your symptoms, and when used in conjunction with talk therapy offer the best outcome.

Lifestyle Changes

Stress and relaxation techniques like meditation, regular exercise, deep breathing exercises, and guided imagery can consciously induce the body’s natural relaxation response- slowing the breath, lowering blood pressure, and inducing feelings of calm and well being. Yoga and massage can help you focus and relax.

Music and laughter can improve your mood and decrease your stress. Get out in nature to boost your mood, lower your blood pressure and heart rate, and help reduce muscle tension and stress hormones. Talking with a trusted friend or member of the clergy for support is helpful too.

When you haven’t been feeling yourself, and gloom and doom pervade your thoughts, use this as an opportunity for positive growth. It will take work, but in collaboration with Dr. Bisignano you can explore and process your issues, expand your awareness and understanding, and learn acceptance. Dr. Bisignano can teach you skills and strategies for effective communication and engagement to help promote deeper emotional connections, and support you in learning to be your best self.

Anxiety disorders are very treatable. The goal is to provide symptom relief and an improved quality of life. With professional care, many people are able to reduce or eliminate their symptoms within a few months of beginning therapy. Others may see improvements with only a few sessions.

Dr. Bisignano uses a comprehensive approach to treatment that includes biological, psychological, social and spiritual care. You will always be treated with respect and compassion. Dr. Angela Bisignano is a clinical psychologist in Palos Verdes Estates. She also serves Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach, CA.