Anxiety and Its Treatment in a Nutshell

If you have found this page then you probably are interested in knowing more about  anxiety , social  anxiety  or shyness, stress, worry, and related problems or disorders, what they are and how to get over them. You are in the right place! I am a Santa Rosa based psychologist and psychotherapist who was formally the head of the  Anxiety  Disorder Best Practices for all of Northern California Kaiser-Permanente Psychiatry. I have some very important information to share with you!

Fact:  Anxiety  Disorders are the most common mental health problem in the US!

Over the course of a lifetime,  Anxiety  Disorders will affect 25 to 30% of the entire US population! There are 6 primary  anxiety  disorders: Simple phobia, Panic Disorder, Generalized  Anxiety  Disorder, Social  Anxiety  Disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). There are also Adjustment Disorders with Anxious Features (also very common).

 Anxiety  is an out of control fear response

 Anxiety  is related to fear, a basic emotion which we all share. If humans had no fear, humankind would not survive! In this sense, fear is adaptive and has many forms: panic, worry, apprehension, nervousness, and even feeling stressed out. Fear is supposed to serve a useful purpose and is nature’s way of getting your mind and body prepared to face some type of actual or genuine threat. A common fear response causes your attention to narrow onto what you are afraid of and also causes your body to become charged with adrenaline to “flee or fight”.  Anxiety , on the other hand, is maladaptive and causes a reaction similar or identical to a fear response but… there is little or nothing to really be afraid of!  Anxiety  causes you to overreact to situations, people, sensations, and even memories!  Anxiety  is an easily triggered and misplaced reaction.

What causes  anxiety ? Can  anxiety  lead to depression?

 Anxiety  is primarily caused by a combination of predisposing factors that interact with your environment. Predisposing factors include past histories of trauma or abuse, problems in your early emotional connection with caregivers, modeling of anxious behaviors by caregivers, domestic violence, being bullied or picked on, ongoing work related stress, history of accidents or medical illnesses, genes and temperament, and other factors. With these predispositions in place you are more vulnerable to developing problematic  anxiety  or even  anxiety  disorders in reaction to your environment like during periods of stress or adversity, life transitions (both negative and positive), losses, major life events, etc. Once  anxiety  has started you may experience a very strong urge to avoid situations, people, sensations, and/or memories associated with the  anxiety . Unfortunately avoidance only works in the short term-you may feel relief when you avoid, but you keep the whole cycle going by not learning to confront the sources of the fear directly. Every time you avoid due to  anxiety , your world shrinks a little. Over time this avoidance can lead to other problems including social isolation and depression!

How do I get over  anxiety ?

The best way to overcome  anxiety  is to learn to confront your fears and examine the factors that lead up to the  anxiety . If you have had abuse or trauma this needs to be addressed as well.  Anxiety  recovery means learning to face things and to stop avoiding. Drugs can sometimes be used temporarily, but long term use can cause side effects and reinforce the tendency to avoid, thereby never really addressing the true causes of your  anxiety . If you need help, you should get it sooner rather than later! For more information on  anxiety , social  anxiety  or shyness, phobias, PTSD or trauma, OCD, and other issues related to  anxiety  and its treatment go to