To a degree, we all experience anxiety. It’s not really an illness to be anxious, and more to the point, there is nothing downright negative about the state of anxiety. In truth, anxiety and being anxious aren’t any different – and there are plenty of times throughout a person’s life where anxiety is the healthy, correct emotion.
Think of anxiety as a more complicated warning system for the brain’s emotional capacitors, similar to how pain is a system by which we gauge how much physical damage we can sustain.
While pain typically occurs when something’s wrong – an injury, for example, or a constant stream of pain as when touching something hot – anxiety typically occurs when we’re in situations with emotional and mental stress we can’t handle. When the anxiety sets in, we know we’re at our limits, brushing and pushing up against our own boundaries. At that point, it’s best to take things down a notch and relax, rather than push through.
There’s a difference between stress and anxiety. The simplest analogy is exercise. Weightlifting will tire you out, and introduce a burn in your muscles as they suffer micro-tearing from the exertion of the exercise. But the very same mechanism – slowly but precisely destroying your musculature – is what kick starts the growth that produces stronger muscles.
But what happens if you keep going? If you don’t listen to your body and exercise past the point of fatigue, your muscles will fail, and you’ll either injure yourself with improper form, or your muscles and tendons will tear under the pressure.
In the same way, stress is a mental burn from being in a stressful situation. It’s a gauge for how much we can handle. In that sense, there’s nothing wrong with stress or anxiety. In fact, we here at Vantage Point can wholeheartedly tell you that most people have had moments in their life where they’ve been legitimately anxious, and panicky.
But there’s a difference between having your mind act appropriately in any given situation, and finding yourself irrationally anxious, to the point where the good aspects of anxiety – self-preservation – are overshadowed out by an overwhelming host of negative drawbacks. That kind of anxiety – an anxiety disorder – affects 18 percent of the US population as per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Anxiety is fine. Let us repeat that because it’s really important to us that you understand that what you’re going through is perfectly human, and often completely normal. Anxiety is a valid reaction to many events and problems in life.
However, being caught up in anxiety when you shouldn’t be – overtly worrying, becoming paranoid, and generally experiencing constant feelings of tension – is a sign that something’s gone wrong in your life, and you need help to set yourself straight again. Just like how chronic pain is a sign of a greater underlying issue, so is anxiety something that requires professional help to clear up.
But while the mechanism is simple, and vaguely similar from case to case, even with a common illness like an anxiety disorder there is a myriad of varying symptoms, different forms, and ultimately, completely separate treatment details and tweaked treatment solutions depending on who you are and what your circumstances dictate.
When Being Anxious Becomes Too Much
There is no strict guideline for when you have an anxiety issue, aside from what you consider to be an anxiety issue. This is very much an illness based on mental and emotional pain – and no one can presume to tell you how you feel, other than yourself.
That being said, there are times when we’re suffering from an issue we can’t even name, or identify – so if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should probably dig deeper:
- Panic attacks, general feeling of dread
- Insomnia, or irregular sleep
- Dry mouth
- Nausea and dizziness
- Numbness in the limbs, muscular tension
- Shortness of breath and bursts of hyperventilation
These aren’t normal feelings of stress – especially if you’ve experienced any of these symptoms regularly, more than just once.
Anxiety can often be an isolated case of panic and dread after a traumatic experience – but it truly begins to become a problem when what was a single event turns into a regular experience. If you’re consistently experiencing these symptoms, you may still be affected by a previous traumatic event.
Now, let’s take a step back and make sure there are absolutely no misunderstandings here. We have to get this straight: anxiety is, in some cases, a normal reaction. Life is full of moments where we’re lucky to have survived, or where an event – whatever that event might be – can leave us scared, and emotionally altered.
But after a while, that should fade away. If it stays, that’s not your fault either – you’re not flawed, broken, or somehow less of a person. You are you – and come with your own unique traits and strengths. But if you’re finding yourself in a consistent state of dread, you need help! Trust us: you’re definitely not the only one. Anxiety affects millions of Americans, and barely one-third seek treatment.
That saddens us, here at Vantage Point. Why? Because anxiety disorders are highly treatable. That means that in most cases, we can help you fully recover from your anxiety problems without many, if any drawbacks.
You’ll still be you, as always, but you’ll have learned to cope with your emotions and handle the stress you were previously susceptible to. Yet without help, an anxiety disorder could develop into something worse after years of dread and fear – like depression.
Anxiety, like most mental illnesses, happens because of any number of factors and combined reasons, changing from case to case. In some cases, it may be the partially to blame on prenatal environmental factors. In other cases, it may be genetics or food. Or trauma and abuse.
We can’t tell you why you’re the way you are. We can only tell you what may be wrong with you, and we can definitely tell you how we’re going to help you fix it. In the case of anxiety, there are plenty of tools out there today built to help you treat the illness, including advances in mental clinical science like:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Neuroplasticity Therapy
- Brain Mapping
- Group Therapy
- Stress Management
- Yoga and Meditation
- And more
But really, let’s skip past the part where we tell you what each of these fancy terms mean because there’s no telling what will work best for you without an in-depth analysis of your mind and case by our professional staff. Perhaps you’re extremely responsive to herbal medication and yoga.
Perhaps that stuff is completely ineffective, and you only respond well to classic anti-anxiety medication. Or maybe medication doesn’t work at all, and the only way you can fix yourself is to slowly rewire the way you think with therapy and support, through neurofeedback and cognitive exercises. Whatever does work best for you, we will guarantee you that we’ll find it, and work with you to give you an in-depth look into how your treatment will work.
We’ve been in the business for far too long to tell you that there’s a magic pill or 12-step program. You’re not a problem with a single logical solution – you’re a person, experiencing a complex system of symptoms, and requiring a uniquely compatible treatment plan.
That’s where we come in. The Vantage Point way differs from your usual treatment center, as we offer anxiety treatment plans that are:
- Built specifically for you, your condition, your problems, your circumstances
- Built around your daily needs and illness severity, i.e. with inpatient or outpatient recommendations
- We treat you as a person, not a case number
To us, our clients are people looking for help, not to be inspected and prodded – we work with you, rather than making you the subject of treatments you may not understand. Every step of the way will involve your understanding and cooperation, because the only way to beat your disease is, simply, to work together.
It’s not shyness. We need to come right off the bat as strong as possible and lead with this statement because too many people with actual anxiety find themselves desperately trying to brush off the importance of their symptoms as simple shyness or overt emotionality.
We’re here to tell you that social anxiety is real, it’s a crippling condition, and is so powerful that it’s often known as a social phobia. This is characterized by an intense fear of being around other people because you’re afraid of being judged, scrutinized, or constantly compared and watched for your performance and actions.
There’s a difference between an actual social anxiety and being an introvert, however. Introverts can function perfectly fine in social environments, and typically even enjoy some social gatherings.
People with social anxiety, on the other hand, don’t just experience discomfort when around others, or simply would rather not be in social gatherings – they have an actual fear, characterized by symptoms so powerful that they disrupt and actively obstruct daily life, making it impossible to live a normal life.
What Social Anxiety Looks Like
It’s not easy to draw a definite distinction between someone who just doesn’t like being around people, and someone who’s actually got social anxiety – but the primary difference would most certainly be the absence or presence of total fear.
Symptoms of social phobia are basically riddled with emotional overreactions not on-par with what someone would describe as “dislike”. When in any social situation, you’re likely to have social anxiety if you:
- Do everything you can to not be in a social situation
- You fear to be around other people, to the point that it haunts you, and stresses you out
When you are around others, you:
- Sweat profusely
- Shake and tense up
- Suffer an upset stomach
If you’re familiar with feeling distraught at the thought of being at a party or a gathering, you have an issue. And we can help you with it, let us.
Overcoming Your Social Fears
If that sounds anything like you, we need to stress that you talk to us so we can confirm a diagnosis. As per the ADAA, about 15 million Americans suffer from this condition, and over a third of them only begin to seek help for their phobia over a decade after symptoms first start.
We understand why. You’re scared of judgment. You don’t want to suffer through humiliation or risk feeling powerless and vulnerable. And although you know you have a problem, and are much more sensitive to social awkwardness than anyone else you know, it feels extremely hard to fight against all that to seek help.
We make it easier – we focus on judgment-free treatment, and we discuss every step of the way with you so you know what’s coming. Some of the techniques we explore on the road to help you overcome your disorder include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Group Therapy
- Mindfulness Therapy
- Exposure Therapy
Nothing is particularly set in stone when it comes to mental illness. What might appear to be a social anxiety might actually turn out to be general anxiety once a treatment begins, and as professionals, it’s in our nature to adapt and change our methods based on how you react to them. We don’t pick a course and stay with it against better judgment – your treatment will conform to your situation, until we find a way to help you as best as possible. That’s the special thing about our services. At Vantage Point, we build a treatment plan that:
- Is undoubtedly built around you
- Works with you and incorporates your active participation
- Molds itself around your needs, including work and family needs
- Tackles your problem comprehensively, taking into account the possibility of other issues besides your anxiety
We don’t force our pet treatments on people that don’t respond well to them – and we don’t try or guess aimlessly until we stumble upon what works. But without your input and participation, a lot of what we’re doing will seem like shots in the dark. With your help, however, we can get you to the point where you’re reliably coping with your anxiety.
Panic attacks – or more to the point, a panic disorder that causes common panic attacks – are said to affect as many as 1 in 75 individuals as per the American Psychological Association. That’s several million Americans, suffering from the consequences of regular episodes of pure distress.
We’re not going to sugarcoat it – it’s not an easy disorder to live with. Unlike anxiety, which presents itself as a sort of permanent layer of stress added to your life, a panic disorder is highlighted by sharp and drastic events of panic and fear, brought about by, well, nothing.
Panic attacks aren’t uncommon. In fact, for many, they’re part of the coping mechanism for traumatic or extremely stressful experiences. But in a panic disorder, your natural instinct goes haywire, and you find yourself caught in a series of dangerous episodes without any prior input or particularly obvious reason.
What is a Panic Attack
A panic disorder is defined as an illness marked by several repeated panic attacks, often at random or without cause. Panic attacks, when they happen, happen suddenly and involve:
- Rapid heart rate.
- Extreme fear and anxiety.
- Excessive sweating.
- Stomach issues.
Yep, it sure isn’t pretty. But it can be dealt with. Panic attacks don’t have to ruin your life, and with the right help, you can reduce and even eliminate them. Now, sure, we get that all of this sounds very vague and non-specific – and that’s because, at the end of the day, we need your input and your information to be able to tell you how things will move on. That being said, there are a couple things we can do for you.
Treating a Panic Disorder
To treat the problem, you have to understand it. And you have to understand that there’s very little to say without doing an in-depth analysis of a specific case. We don’t know why, in general, panic disorders occur. PTSD and anxiety are common factors for a panic disorder. Genetics and environmental factors also play a role. Often, the disorder is marked by excessive trauma and a series of particularly scarring events, such as being forced to move, separation, loss, and so on.
It sounds a bit heartless just listing these things off like that, but trust us – we understand the magnitude of a panic attack, and we understand how disruptive the disorder can be in everyday living.
Curing a panic disorder requires a unique, thought-out approach for each case. You might respond well to mindfulness training and yoga, while traditional group therapy does little for you. Medication might work, while other techniques don’t. Meeting us and discussing your problem in further detail can help us figure out how best to help you – until then, here are some of the things we do to end your problem:
- Mindfulness Therapy
- Talk Therapy
- Group Therapy
We’re specialists in intensive outpatient care, here at Vantage Point. Now, when you think about that combination of terms, it might sound a little contradictory. Intensive – yet outpatient, as in, without direct involvement with our facilities?
It’s rather simple, really, and it’s what sets our therapy apart: we work with you to help you help yourself.
We’re not going to send you to some cookie-cutter therapy program, pat you on the back and write you a lengthy prescription – our outpatient programs are involved and require you to dedicate no small part (rather, a big part) of your life towards getting better. We also enlist the help of willing friends and family to ensure that your treatment is a success – and that long after treatment, any symptoms are dealt with quickly.
Don’t get us wrong, a panic disorder isn’t cured overnight. It’s a long-term condition – a protective shell that actually harms the people inside it, and constricts them. It can take away the joy from life – but instead of smashing that shell open for you, or taking a buzz saw to its hard exterior, we give you the advice and help you need to calmly extract yourself from its vice-like hold, and open up to a life of wonders, fulfillment, and lots of opportunities and experiences for happiness. Panic disorders are highly treatable, and we will make every effort to treat yours.