Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia
Panic attacks are marked by terrifying anxiety symptoms that may include palpitations, sweating, chest pain, nausea, hypersensitivity to light, feelings of unreality and catastrophic fears of dying, fainting, going crazy or losing control. Agoraphobia is a frequent complication involving avoidance of situations the individual associates with having panic symptoms. We utilize cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavioral exposure, and medication as needed.
Generalized or Specific Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder presents in many forms, including specific performance situations like public speaking, sport or musical performance, and "bashful bladder" (paruresis). Generalized social anxiety disorder can involve severe self-consciousness and avoidance of most social contacts. We utilize individualized cognitive interventions, behavioral exposure methods, group formats even including improv, and medication as needed to maximize positive outcomes.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
In GAD, worry and anxious arousal are often pervasive, nearly daily experiences with many foci of worry from daily uncertainties, hassles or conflicts to potential disasters. We assist people in exploring anxiety triggers, nonproductive worry, and helpful coping skills for managing worry and reducing bodily arousal. Individual therapy, group therapy, medication, and mindfulness meditation training are available.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
OCD is most often characterized by unwanted, unbidden and very upsetting thoughts which escalate anxiety, sometimes accompanied by internal or behavioral rituals intended to reduce anxiety, (e.g., checking, cleaning, reassurance-seeking, neutralizing thoughts, etc.). We treat OCD by specialized cognitive-behavioral methods, including exposure and response prevention, as well as certain medications.
In adults, common phobias that bring sufferers to treatment include the fear of flying, fear of driving the Bay Bridge or the Harbor Tunnel, fear of medical procedures or fear of small animals. (Some apparent phobias are more about a fear of panic attacks or fear of loss of control.) In children, "school phobia" and fear of small animals are common. Treatment usually focuses on gradual, carefully-dosed exposure, with an emphasis on education and cognitive coping skills.
Adjustment Disorders with Anxiety or Depression
Symptoms of anxiety and depression may accompany many upsetting life experiences such as separation/divorce, loss/bereavement, illness, infertility, unemployment, lawsuits, care of an elderly parent, moving, or parenting. Many of our therapists are used to helping people adjust more effectively to such adverse life circumstances.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Traumas such as accidents or crimes can often lead to benumbed feelings alternating with intense arousal, unsettling flashbacks, and avoidance patterns. Treatment involves sensitive handling of phobic components, as well as addressing the many effects trauma can have on one's sense of well-being, safety, relationships, etc. Individual therapy, behavioral exposure, and medication are typical treatment approaches.
Our bodies' acute stress response serves us well; however, when stress becomes more chronic, bodily symptoms and emotional distress are often the result. There are so many conditions that are either caused by or aggravated by stress, including anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, as well as some skin disorders, ulcers, respiratory conditions, and sexual dysfunctions. We utilize specialized individual therapy, as well as biofeedback and medication as indicated in the service of more effective stress management.