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distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune

Anxiety is a common human emotion that everyone experiences at times. Many people feel anxious or nervous when faced with a problem, before taking a test, or when making an important decision. Anxiety disorders, however, are different. They can cause such distress that it interferes with a person’s ability to lead a normal life.

Anxiety disorders include panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder. For people with anxiety disorders, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming. Anxiety disorders can be crippling, even to the point that individuals find it difficult to leave their home; and they avoid social contact or outside activities. Symptoms vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder; but some general symptoms include feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness; problems sleeping; nightmares; shortness of breath; heart palpitations; an inability to be still and calm; muscle tension; dizziness.

The exact cause of anxiety disorders is unknown, but anxiety disorders are not the result of personal weakness, a character flaw, or poor upbringing. As research continues on mental illness, it is becoming clear that many disorders are caused by a combination of factors, including changes in the brain, environmental stress, and chemical imbalances in the body.

Much progress has been made in the last two decades in the treatment of mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders. Although the exact treatment approach depends on the type of disorder, treatment options include talk therapy (psychotherapy); cognitive-behavioral therapy; relaxation therapy; dietary and lifestyle changes; and, if appropriate, medication.

New Leaf Center therapists provide talk therapy and/or cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety and can provide referral resources for clients to receive psychiatric evaluation for medication intervention, when indicated.

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