In everyday language, we often use the words “fear” and “anxiety” synonymously. We also do this for words such as “worry,” “nervous,” “stress,” and even “panic.” We could say something like, “I’m anxious about this test”, “I’m stressed about this test” or even “I’m panicking about this test.” Yet, we still mean the same thing.
Cut, clinically speaking, these words all mean different things. It’s important to know how each one is distinct and the unique way that our bodies may experience them.
Let’s start with stress. Stress is your body’s natural reaction to a challenge or a demand, and it can be both positive and negative. In positive stress, the brain becomes focused and alert. As a result, we can feel excited and energized, and we can act fast and with confidence. We often do better work when we experience a manageable degree of short-term stress.
Negative stress happens when the stressful event becomes overwhelming. It may last for a long period or overlap with other stressful events. Your body remains alert indefinitely, which has many negative effects such as:
- Muscle pain and tension
- Difficulty sleeping
- Stomach issues
- Sexual problems
- Weight change
- And more
Fear and Anxiety
Fear is a natural and powerful response in which your brain and body react to the presence of danger. Your brain alerts your limbic system. Once this occurs your breathing, heart rate, blood sugar, and perspiration speed up. The rational part of your brain is also muted. Many of your internal resources are routed to your muscles and organs needed to protect yourself as well.
In short, your brain is activating the fight or flight response to try to save you.
For your body, fear and anxiety are strongly interrelated. The primary difference between the two is the context you are experiencing. Fear relates to a known or understood threat. But, anxiety follows from an unknown or perceived threat.
Anxiety causes many of the same physiological responses as fear. But, without the immediate and identifiable threat for you to respond to. In other words, it is your body’s apprehension about what might be happening now or at some point later on.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Symptoms of anxiety can occur in a variety of situations, and can include:
- Feeling overwhelmed or out of control
- Panic attacks
- Social disconnect
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Trouble concentrating
- Difficulty falling asleep
How Anxiety Treatment Can Offer Support
The bad news is that anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in the US. Nearly 1 out of 3 people in the US meet the conditions for a diagnosable anxiety disorder at some point in their lifetime and almost 1 out of 5 have met those conditions within the past year alone. Some common types of anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic disorder
- And social anxiety disorder
This also includes forms of anxiety that do not rise to the level of a clinical disorder. But, they may still interfere in a major way with daily life and happy living.
The good news is that anxiety is treatable. Many studies and decades of research have shown counseling is a very effective and long-lasting treatment for anxiety. This includes treatments like CBT, Mindfulness, and EMDR.
The team at Unity Counseling would be honored to support you in overcoming anxiety with a variety of treatment options.
- CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) is a tried-and-true technique. It is effective in treating both generalized anxiety and OCD. CBT therapy for anxiety works by helping us to question the thoughts and beliefs that contribute to anxiety, obsessions, and compulsions. Then, it helps them form new beliefs or create a new, more flexible frame of reference.
- Other types of anxiety, such as those related to trauma, respond more readily to techniques like EMDR. Rather than challenging and changing thoughts, EMDR therapy for anxiety involves processing anxiety-related memories using physical movements. These movements can help us to reprocess troubling memories.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness-based intervention. It was developed to treat social anxiety disorder. Like PTSD, ACT therapy for anxiety does not have a goal of changing negative thoughts. Instead, the focus is on accepting these thoughts without believing them or fighting them.
- Exposure therapy is an especially effective intervention for working with phobias and agoraphobia. With this technique, we learn to approach or expose ourselves to the situation or object we fear over time. At the same time, we make use of relaxation techniques. For instance, in the case of systematic desensitization, we may first imagine the frightening situation. Then, we approach it in real life through a series of gradual steps working toward our final goal.
Feel free to schedule your free consultation today! We can discuss how anxiety counseling may benefit you.
Begin Anxiety Treatment in Michigan
You deserve support in overcoming anxiety symptoms. Our team of caring therapists would be honored to help equip you with the tools to better cope with stress and anxiety. We offer support from our Grand Rapids, MI-based counseling practice, and across the state. To start your therapy journey, please follow these simple steps:
- Meet with a caring therapist
- Start finding the right treatment for your anxiety symptoms!
Other Services Offered With Unity Counseling
Anxiety treatment isn’t the only service offered at Unity Counseling. We offer a variety of services to support you through the difficulties life may throw your way. Our team is happy to offer a variety of mental health services to support clients including counseling for teens, depression counseling, and grief counseling. We also offer services including couples counseling, LGBTQ+ counseling, CBT, EMDR, trauma, and mindfulness. We understand making in-person appointments can be difficult at times. So, we are happy to also offer online therapy across Michigan. Feel free to learn more by visiting our blog or FAQ today!