Anxiety

Welcome! If you have found this page, you or somebody you love may be experiencing anxiety and would like to learn more. Good news: anxiety is one of the most treatable mental health issues! While you may be feeling stuck with how to proceed with treatment or even wondering if this is what you are experiencing, let me share some of the common types of anxiety that I treat so you can better determine if you need assistance.  Contact me at 785-477-9117 or AmandaPetrikLCPC@gmail.com for more information!

Recommended Reading: Worry Reframes by Amanda Petrik, LCPC


Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is that general worrier, whose anxiety and racing thoughts may jump from worry to worry. Today you worry about your health, tomorrow you worry about your grades or if you will be fired, then your appearance and how you compare to others, then finances, then your family. These individuals have difficulty controlling the worry, so simply saying “relax” typically does not solve it. In addition to the worried thoughts, you may experience: sleep difficulties, fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, poor concentration, and feeling on edge.

If this sounds familiar and you would like to schedule a consultation, we will gather background information, family history, symptoms, and your anxious thoughts. Let me help you ease those worries before it impacts relationships, school or work, or leads to additional mental health issues.

 

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety does not mean that you lack social skills; this occurs when you have a fear of being scrutinized or judged in social situations, fear you will be embarrassed or mess up, or become anxious performing in front of others. Important to note is that those social situations almost always cause anxiety and are often avoided or endured with much displeasure. In children, this anxiety can look like crying, tantrums, clinging, freezing, or not speaking.

Social anxiety is becoming more prevalent in today’s world due to advances in technology. Many of our daily activities can be done while avoiding people; we can order and deliver our groceries to the door, do our shopping online, meetings via Skype, read a book on your phone instead of checking it out at the library. So when you are required to interact face-to-face with another or perform in front of a crowd, this can be quite nerve-racking. Our goal will be to relieve that anxiety and assist you in those tasks you want to achieve.

 

Specific Phobias

Specific phobias, such as that fear of heights, spiders, water, storms, needles, or airplanes, are actually the quickest to treat! A specific phobia is an intense anxiety around an object or situation, and is avoided or endured with much displeasure. Contact me if I can assist you with one of your phobias, especially if it is starting to interfere with your functioning or daily routine.

 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Do you ever feel like things “just aren’t right” or maybe thoughts get stuck in your head and become distressing? Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) consists of two parts: Obsessions are the intrusive, persistent and unwanted thoughts or images that get stuck in your head, while the compulsions are the repetitive rituals (or behaviors) you feel you have to complete in order to relieve your anxiety. Some common examples are a fear of contamination so you may excessively clean, a need to order and arrange items, check if you completed a task such as if lights are turned off, count items or patterns, or repeate a task multiple times until it is just right or a certain number of times. Some clients have OCD that consists of religious thoughts or rituals such as needing to say their prayer a certain number of times or they worry something bad will happen, thoughts of harming someone, disturbing images of death or grotesque scenes, or what they feel is inappropriate sexual thoughts. I have seen and heard it all so you are in good hands. The evidenced based treatment for OCD is called Exposure and Response Prevention, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy. Call me at 785-477-9117 for more information on the treatment or to schedule.

 

Selective Mutism

Often seen in children, selective mutism is the failure to speak in social situations where the child is expected to speak despite having the verbal abilities.  The thought of initiating conversation or responding causes great anxiety for the child and can lead to academic or social impairments. Treatment will include work with the child individually, as well as training parents, family members, peers, and the school how to appropriately respond to the child when anxious.

 

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Separation Anxiety Disorder is more commonly seen in children, outside of what is considered developmentally appropriate, when he or she fears being separated from an attachment figure.  The child or adolescent may worry that something bad will happen to that caregiver when they are gone (get hurt in an accident, never come back) or worry something bad will happen to themselves (be kidnapped, become ill).  Due to these worries, he or she will try hard not to be separated from the caregiver, may not want to sleep alone, have difficulties separating to school or to a friend’s house, will not want to stay home alone, may have nightmares regarding separation, or show physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches when anxious.

 

Panic Disorder

To meet the criteria for panic disorder, you have experienced unexpected panic attacks, often without any predictable trigger beforehand and can occur as often as several times per day or as few as a couple per year.  A panic attack lasts approximately 10-15 minutes, is defined as a period of intense fear, and consists of several symptoms such as difficulty breathing, sweating or chills, feeling weak or faint, racing heart, tingling or numbness, chest pains, feelings of choking, nausea, fear of dying, or feeling a loss of control.

The difference between experiencing panic attacks and having a diagnosis of panic disorder, is the worry that you will then have additional panic attacks in the future and making changes in your life in fear that you will have another.  If you find yourself having such intense anxiety that you actually increase the number of panic attacks you are having, it may be time to seek treatment.

 

Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is a fear of being in a place or situation in which you fear escape may be difficult or embarrassing, or fear you may not be able to get help if a panic attack should occur.  Places and situations that I have heard from those with agoraphobia include in a crowd, while waiting in a line, at sporting events, while at stores, auditoriums, on public transportation, and even in open spaces like baseball fields.  Agoraphobia can accompany panic disorder but does not necessarily have to.  These individuals will often avoid these situations otherwise they are endured with much distress.

 

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

If you are like most, you associate Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with combat, war, and veterans.  While that is true, there are many other individuals that experience the same symptoms and do not realize that they also have PTSD.  The first criteria is that you have experienced a stressor, either directly been exposed, witnessed it, or learned of it through another person (indirectly).  Common stressors include physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, war, accidents, neglect, bullying, and major disasters.

The second criteria is that you feel you are re-experiencing the trauma in some manner.  This could include nightmares, intrusive memories, flashbacks, or distress to triggers (reminders of the event).  Next, there is some attempt to avoid the trauma, both the thoughts and feelings as well as the triggers.  Maybe you avoid going to the place it happened, around the person whom did it, or avoid activities that remind you of it.  There is also a change in one’s mood or thoughts such as a lack of interest in your usual activities, feeling alienated from others, difficulty recalling the event, blame for yourself or others, trauma-related emotions (fear, guilt, shame), or negative beliefs about the event (“it was all my fault”).  Lastly, you may be experiencing symptoms such as sleep difficulties, poor concentration, irritability, hyper-vigilance (overly cautious), or an increased startle response.

I specialize in the two evidence based treatment for PTSD, including Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) and Prolonged Exposure Therapy.  For more information on these treatments and which would be more appropriate for you, contact me at AmandaPetrikLCPC@gmail.com

 

Trichotillomania/Excoriation

Trichotillomania (hair pulling) and excoriation disorder (skin picking) are two types of body-focused repetitive behaviors, meaning they involve compulsively damaging one’s physical appearance or causing injury.  Both are often caused or exacerbated by anxiety, so it is not uncommon to see a diagnosis of another anxiety disorder along with trichotillomania and excoriation disorder.  Treating these underlying anxiety disorders will be beneficial.  In addition, Habit Reversal Training and cognitive behavioral therapy are recommended to address the body-focused repetitive behaviors.