Anxiety is one of the most common reasons that people seek therapy. Approximately one third of all adults will experience some form of anxiety disorder in their lifetimes. It can affect people of an age, gender, class, etc. and millions of people are currently affected. Whether it’s fully debilitating or you have high functioning anxiety, it can help a lot to get therapy to resolve the issues associated with it.

What Is Anxiety?

What Exactly Is Anxiety And Do I Need Help For Mine?

See our comprehensive article on anxiety.

Anxiety is a normal and natural emotional response to perceived threats or stressors. It is characterized by feelings of apprehension, worry, or fear that are out of proportion to the actual danger or threat. Anxiety can manifest both physically and psychologically and can vary in intensity and duration. When it begins to interfere with daily activities, it rises to the level of a mental health condition.

Common Anxiety Symptoms

Common symptoms of anxiety may include:

  1. Excessive Worry: Persistent and excessive worrying about various aspects of life, including everyday activities, relationships, work, health, or future events.
  2. Restlessness: Feeling on edge, agitated, or unable to relax. Individuals with anxiety may have difficulty sitting still or finding a sense of calm.
  3. Irritability: Becoming easily irritable or having a low tolerance for frustrations or disruptions. Small stressors or triggers may lead to disproportionate emotional reactions.
  4. Sleep Disturbances: Difficulties with falling asleep, staying asleep, or having restless and disturbed sleep patterns. Anxiety can cause racing thoughts, making it challenging to quiet the mind for sleep.
  5. Physical Symptoms: Physical manifestations of anxiety may include rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest tightness, muscle tension, headaches, stomachaches, dizziness, sweating, or trembling.
  6. Difficulty Concentrating: Anxiety can make it challenging to focus or concentrate on tasks. Intrusive thoughts and worries may occupy the mind, making it hard to pay attention or complete activities.
  7. Catastrophic Thinking: A tendency to anticipate the worst-case scenarios or catastrophic outcomes. Anxiety can lead to overestimating the likelihood of negative events and underestimating personal ability to cope with them.
  8. Avoidance Behavior: Avoiding situations or activities that provoke anxiety. Individuals may try to avoid triggers, places, or social interactions that they perceive as anxiety-inducing.
  9. Hypervigilance: Heightened awareness of potential threats or dangers in the environment. Individuals with anxiety may be constantly on the lookout for signs of danger, even in situations where the threat is minimal or nonexistent.

Common Anxiety Symptoms

Unusual Symptoms of Anxiety

While the symptoms mentioned earlier are more common in anxiety, it’s worth noting that anxiety can manifest in various ways, and some individuals may experience rare or unusual symptoms. Here are a few examples:

Sensory Disturbances

In some cases, anxiety can cause unusual sensory experiences. This may include hypersensitivity to light, sound, or touch, as well as a heightened awareness of bodily sensations, such as feeling overly sensitive to temperature changes or perceiving internal bodily processes more intensely.


Anxiety can lead to feelings of dissociation or detachment from oneself or the surrounding environment. This may involve a sense of unreality, feeling disconnected from one’s body, or experiencing a “foggy” or dreamlike state.


Some individuals with anxiety may experience unusual sensations on the skin, such as tingling, numbness, or a crawling sensation. These sensations, known as paresthesia, can occur without any apparent medical cause and are thought to be related to heightened stress and anxiety.

Psychosomatic Symptoms

Anxiety can manifest as physical symptoms that mimic medical conditions. Rare or unusual psychosomatic symptoms may include unexplained pain, gastrointestinal distress, frequent urination, or other bodily sensations that are not typically associated with anxiety.

Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs)

BFRBs are repetitive self-grooming behaviors that can occur as a response to anxiety. Examples include excessive nail biting, hair pulling (trichotillomania), or skin picking (dermatillomania). These behaviors provide temporary relief but can be challenging to control.


While not uncommon, extreme perfectionism can be a symptom of anxiety that significantly affects an individual’s life. The constant drive for flawlessness, fear of making mistakes, and self-criticism can lead to significant distress and interfere with everyday functioning.

Existential Anxiety

Some individuals with anxiety may experience existential or philosophical concerns related to the nature of life, meaning, mortality, or the purpose of existence. This type of anxiety may lead to deep contemplation and existential questioning.

Prevalence of Types of Anxiety Disorders

Prevalence of Types of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health conditions worldwide. The prevalence of anxiety disorders can vary depending on the specific disorder and the population being studied.

Anxiety disorders can occur at any age, although they often begin in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood. They are more common in women compared to men, with some disorders, such as social anxiety disorder, showing a higher prevalence in females.

Here are some estimates of the prevalence of anxiety disorders.

It’s important to note that these prevalence rates are approximate and can vary across different studies and populations. Additionally, many individuals may experience symptoms of anxiety that do not meet the criteria for a diagnosed anxiety disorder but still impact their daily lives.

  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): GAD is characterized by excessive and persistent worry about a range of everyday issues. It is estimated that GAD affects approximately 3-6% of the global population.
  2. Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD): SAD, also known as social phobia, involves intense fear and avoidance of social situations. The estimated global prevalence of SAD is around 7-13%.
  3. Panic Disorder: Panic disorder involves recurrent and unexpected panic attacks, often accompanied by intense fear and physical symptoms. The prevalence of panic disorder is estimated to be around 2-3% globally.
  4. Specific Phobias: Specific phobias involve an intense fear or anxiety related to a specific object or situation. Prevalence rates for specific phobias can vary depending on the specific fear, but overall, they are relatively common, affecting approximately 7-9% of the population.
  5. Agoraphobia: Agoraphobia is often associated with panic disorder and involves fear and avoidance of situations or places from which escape may be difficult or embarrassing. The estimated prevalence of agoraphobia is around 1-2%.
  6. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD is characterized by recurrent and intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviors or mental rituals (compulsions) performed to alleviate anxiety. The estimated global prevalence of OCD is around 2-3%.
  7. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It involves re-experiencing the trauma through flashbacks or nightmares, avoiding reminders of the trauma, negative changes in mood and cognition, and heightened arousal. The prevalence of PTSD varies depending on the population studied, but it is estimated to affect around 4-5% of the global population.
  8. Acute Stress Disorder (ASD): ASD is similar to PTSD but occurs in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event and typically lasts for a shorter duration (up to a month). The prevalence of ASD varies depending on the population and trauma type, but it is estimated to affect around 6-33% of individuals exposed to traumatic events.
  9. Separation Anxiety Disorder: Separation anxiety disorder typically develops in childhood and involves excessive fear or worry about separation from attachment figures, leading to significant distress. The prevalence of separation anxiety disorder is estimated to be around 4-5% in children and adolescents.
  10. Adjustment Disorders: Adjustment disorders occur when an individual has difficulty coping with a stressful life event or change, resulting in significant emotional or behavioral symptoms. The prevalence of adjustment disorders can vary depending on the population and the specific stressors, but they are estimated to be relatively common.

How Therapy Helps with Anxiety

How Therapy Helps with Anxiety

If you suspect you may be experiencing symptoms related to any of these conditions, it is recommended to consult with a mental health professional for a comprehensive evaluation, accurate diagnosis, and appropriate treatment. Therapy can help whether or not you have a clinical diagnosis of anxiety. Some of the ways it helps include:

Identifying and Understanding Triggers

A therapist can assist individuals in identifying the specific triggers or situations that provoke anxiety. By gaining a better understanding of these triggers, individuals can develop strategies to manage and cope with them more effectively.

Cognitive Restructuring

Therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help individuals recognize and challenge negative thought patterns and beliefs that contribute to anxiety. Through cognitive restructuring, individuals learn to reframe their thoughts and develop more balanced and realistic perspectives, reducing anxiety-provoking thinking.

Relaxation and Stress Reduction Techniques

Therapists can teach relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness practices. These techniques help individuals reduce physiological arousal, manage stress, and alleviate symptoms of anxiety.

Coping Strategies and Skills Development

Therapists can help individuals develop practical coping strategies and skills to manage anxiety in daily life. These may include problem-solving skills, emotion regulation techniques, assertiveness training, and effective communication strategies.


Therapists provide education about anxiety disorders, explaining the nature of anxiety, its causes, and the associated symptoms. Understanding the underlying mechanisms of anxiety can help individuals gain a sense of control and reduce uncertainty, leading to increased empowerment in managing their anxiety.

Supportive and Non-Judgmental Environment

Therapy offers a safe and supportive space where individuals can express their fears, concerns, and emotions related to anxiety without fear of judgment. Therapists provide empathy, validation, and understanding, helping individuals feel heard and supported in their journey toward managing anxiety.

Lifestyle Modifications

Therapists can help individuals identify and make necessary lifestyle changes that can support overall well-being and reduce anxiety. This may include improving sleep habits, establishing healthy routines, incorporating regular exercise, and adopting stress management techniques.

Relapse Prevention

Therapy can equip individuals with tools and strategies to prevent relapses and manage future episodes of anxiety. Therapists work with individuals to develop personalized relapse prevention plans, which may involve ongoing support, monitoring of symptoms, and the development of self-care practices.

Types of Therapy for Anxiety

best type of therapy for anxiety

Learn more about therapy for anxiety.

There are several effective types of therapy for anxiety. The choice of therapy depends on individual preferences, the specific type of anxiety, and the therapist’s expertise. Here are some commonly recommended therapies for anxiety:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is one of the most widely used and effective therapies for anxiety. It focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to anxiety. CBT helps individuals challenge and reframe anxious thoughts, develop coping skills, and gradually confront feared situations through exposure therapy.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

ACT combines mindfulness practices with strategies to promote psychological flexibility. It helps individuals accept their anxious thoughts and feelings rather than trying to eliminate them. ACT aims to help individuals identify their values and take committed action towards living a meaningful life, even in the presence of anxiety.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT is originally designed to treat borderline personality disorder but has shown effectiveness in anxiety treatment. DBT helps individuals develop skills for emotional regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness, and interpersonal effectiveness. These skills can be beneficial for managing anxiety symptoms and improving overall well-being.

Mindfulness-Based Therapies

Mindfulness-based therapies, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), incorporate mindfulness practices to cultivate present-moment awareness and reduce stress and anxiety. These therapies teach individuals to observe their thoughts and emotions without judgment, which can help break the cycle of anxious thinking.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is primarily known for its effectiveness in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but can also be useful for anxiety disorders. EMDR involves guided eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation while processing traumatic memories or distressing experiences. It aims to reduce the emotional intensity and associated anxiety symptoms.

Types of Therapy for Anxiety

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy explores the underlying unconscious patterns and unresolved conflicts that contribute to anxiety. It focuses on gaining insight into the root causes of anxiety and addressing them through self-reflection, exploration of past experiences, and the therapeutic relationship.

Somatic Therapy

Somatic therapy, also known as body-centered therapy, is an approach that emphasizes the connection between the mind and body in addressing psychological concerns, including anxiety. It recognizes that emotions and psychological experiences are not only mental but also manifest in the body.

Group Therapy

Group therapy for anxiety provides a supportive environment where individuals can share their experiences, learn from others, and practice anxiety management skills. Group therapy offers a sense of connection, normalization of experiences, and opportunities for social support and learning.

Next Steps

It’s important to remember that therapy is a personalized process, and what works best for one person may not be the ideal approach for another. The therapeutic relationship and the expertise of the therapist are also essential factors in the effectiveness of therapy. Find a therapist today in our therapist directory or contact us for more information.

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