Anxiety is a normal emotion that everyone experiences periodically. We all experience
nervous emotions before tests, during periods of change, and at other uncertain times.
Most individuals also experience some degree of irrational anxiety and avoidance of situations
in which they are uncomfortable, such as flying, public speaking, high places. These are normal,
and while uncomfortable at times, they do not present any challenges to everyday life.
However, when anxiety becomes more serious and prolonged, or begins to interfere with our
daily lives, an anxiety disorder may be present and require treatment.
Panic Disorder is characterized by recurring severe panic attacks. It may also include
significant behavioral change and ongoing worry about the implications or concern about
having other attacks.
Agoraphobia may develop due to the fear of having a panic attack in a setting
from which there is no easy means of escape. A person suffering from agoraphobia
might avoid crowded or open places, driving, or being away from home.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a potentially disabling illness that traps
people in endless cycles of repetitive thoughts and behaviors. People with OCD are
plagued by recurring and distressing thoughts, fears, or images (obsessions) that
they cannot control. The anxiety produced by these thoughts leads to an urgent need
to perform certain rituals or routines (compulsions). The compulsive rituals are
performed in an attempt to prevent the obsessive thoughts or make them stop.
Obsessions are recurrent, intrusive thoughts, impulses, or images that are perceived
as inappropriate, grotesque, or forbidden . The obsessions, which elicit anxiety and
marked distress, are disturbing because their content is quite unlike the thoughts
that the person usually has.
Obsessions are perceived as uncontrollable, and the sufferer often fears that
he or she will lose control and act upon such thoughts or impulses. Common themes
include contamination with germs or body fluids, doubts (i.e., the worry that
something important has been overlooked or that the sufferer has unknowingly
inflicted harm on someone), order or symmetry, or loss of control of violent
or sexual impulses.
Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that reduce the anxiety that
accompanies an obsession or “prevent” some dreaded event from happening. Compulsions
include both actual behaviors, such as hand washing or checking, and mental acts
including counting or praying. Not uncommonly, compulsive rituals consume long periods
of time, even hours, to complete. For example, repeated hand washing, intended to remedy
anxiety about contamination, is a common cause of contact dermatitis.
Behavior therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy, often in combination with anti-anxiety
or anti-obsessional medication, is the treatment of choice for
Obsessive -Compulsive Disorder.
Specific Phobias are very common conditions characterized by marked fear of specific objects
or situations, followed by avoidance of the feared object, situation, or experience. Adults
generally recognize that this intense fear is irrational. Nevertheless, they typically avoid
the phobic stimulus or endure exposure with great difficulty. Many of us have irrational fear
and avoidance of something in our lives, but it is when the fear and avoidance begin to
significantly impact or limit our lives that a phobia is diagnosed.
Specific Phobias can be very effectively treated with behavior therapy.
Social Phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder, describes people with
marked and persistent anxiety in social situations, including performances and
public speaking. The critical element of the fearfulness is the possibility of
embarrassment or ridicule.
Like specific phobias, the fear is recognized by adults as excessive or
unreasonable, but the dreaded social situation is avoided or is tolerated
with great discomfort. Many people with social phobia are preoccupied with
concerns that others will see their anxiety symptoms (i.e., trembling,
sweating, or blushing); or notice their halting or rapid speech; or judge
them to be weak, stupid, or “crazy.” Fears of fainting, losing control of
bowel or bladder function, or having one’s mind going blank are also not uncommon.
Social phobias generally are associated with significant anticipatory
anxiety for days or weeks before the dreaded event, which in turn may further
handicap performance and heighten embarrassment.
Behavior therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy, at times in combination with
anti-anxiety or anti-anxiety medication, is the treatment of choice for Social Phobia.
Acute and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop
after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. This event may involve
the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one's own or someone else's
physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, overwhelming the individual's ability to
cope. As an effect of psychological trauma, PTSD is less frequent and more enduring than
the more commonly seen acute stress response.
Symptoms of PTSD include re-experiencing the original trauma(s) through flashbacks
or nightmares, avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, and increased
arousal – such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, anger, and hypervigilance.
Features of acute stress disorder include symptoms of generalized anxiety and
hyperarousal, avoidance of situations or stimuli that elicit memories of the trauma,
and persistent, intrusive recollections of the event via flashbacks, dreams, or
recurrent thoughts or visual images.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy or individual psychotherapy is the treatment of choice
for Acute and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders. At times, Eye Movement Desensitization
and Reprocessing (EMDR) can also be effective in lessening the acute anxiety symptoms
accompanying the difficulties.
Hoarding is the excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them.
Hoarding often creates such cramped living conditions that homes may be filled to capacity,
with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter. Some people also collect animals,
keeping dozens or hundreds of pets in unsanitary conditions.
Hoarding, also called compulsive hoarding and compulsive hoarding syndrome, can be a
symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, many people who hoard do not
have other OCD-related symptoms.
People who hoard often do not see it as a problem, making treatment challenging. But
intensive behavioral and cognitive-behavioral treatment can help people who hoard
understand their compulsions and live a safer, more enjoyable life.
Behavior therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy is the treatment of choice for
Compulsive Hoarding. Willow Clinical Services offers help and support for those
suffering from compulsions of any kind. Our staff is trained in mutliple methologies
in order to find the right fit for your needs. We are dedicated to helping you