What are Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety Disorders are very common and one of the most common conditions that individuals report. Anxiety is the automatic physiological and physical changes that occur in response to perceived threat or danger. On awareness of danger, the involuntary nervous system sends immediate messages throughout our body, to either ‘fight’ (tackle the situation head on) or ‘flight’ (flee from the situation). This ‘fight or flight’ response is characterised by:
Increased heart rate and blood pressure
Increased breathing rate
A feeling of fear or apprehension
Trembling, shaking or a feeling of restlessness
Sensory changes (i.e. - feeling cold, clammy, chills or hot flushes)
Feeling nauseous or butterflies in the stomach
Anxiety Disorders include:
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - OCD involves intrusive thoughts called obessions that cause distress to the individual. The individual often learns to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsessions by performing specific rituals or compulsions. The most common obsessions (thoughts) in children and teens are fears of germs and contamination followed by fears of harm to self or others. Some common compulsions include cleaning/washing; repeating; touching/tapping; checking; counting; ordering/arranging - to name a few.
- Specific Phobia - Unreasonable persistent fear of an identifiable object such as animals, medical procedures etc.
- Panic Attacks - repeated, unexpected, out of the blue panic attacks, dreaded anticipation of another attack, avoidance of perceived triggers or attacks, reluctance to go outside of the house due to fear of an attack
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder - uncontrollable worry over day-to-day events. This is the "What if...[something bad happens]" disorder.
- Social Anxiety Disorder - intense fear of social and performance situations, avoidance of social situations.
Treatment for Anxiety Disorders - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Dr. Jenni Silva uses evidence-based interventions, these are therapies that have been shown to be effective in treating anxiety conditions. Jenni is guided by Cognitive Behaviour Threapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) interventions to treat anxiety conditions in children, teens and adults. CBT helps individuals to identify and correct negative, irrational thoughts that are unhelpful & may exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression. By learning to think about life situations in a more realistic and constructive manner, people are more able to cope with the day to day challenges they face, and learn to better control how they react to given circumstances.
When working with children, parents are also taught strategies to help manage their child's anxiety. With children, interventions are always modified to their developmental level, including adding games, use of Ipad etc.