Many treatable conditions are associated with worry. For some people, worry is simply a habit or an entrenched way of dealing with life’s conflicts. But for others, it is a symptom of an underlying condition which may be amendable to psychotherapeutic, medical, and holistic interventions, such as:
Ruminative worry, often with negative thinking, is one of the primary symptoms of depression, along with sleep and appetite changes, lethargy, isolation, and a loss of pleasure in every day life experiences. Fortunately, depression responds well to psychotherapy, sometimes with medical or holistic support.
Panic Disorder and Social Phobia
A panic attack is worry taken to the extreme- a feeling of terror accompanied by rapid heartbeat and fast breathing along with a need to run away from the situation. The person senses imminent doom. About 30 to 50 percent of the time, panic attacks are accompanied by agoraphobia, which is a fear of any public place where a dreaded panic attack might occur like crowds, driving, stores, restaurants, or elevators. Social phobia, on the other hand, involves a fear of being the center of attention, like speaking in public. These conditions can be treated with powerful psychotherapeutic tools, and sometimes antidepressant or antianxiety medications and holistic approaches can be a useful adjunct to therapy.
A person with OCD experiences unwanted and intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and may feel a compulsion to engage in rituals as a way of handling these unwanted thoughts. Strange thoughts are fairly common for most people, but when they are pervasive and seem uncontrollable and distressful, psychotherapeutic interventions combined with other therapies may help.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
People with GAD lead fairly normal lives, but they worry about things that most of us can brush off. They find it difficult to let go of their worries and this may have a genetic or biological basis. For the person with GAD, any event can prompt an automatic response to interpret things in a negative and fearful way, and this can lead to a cascade of worry. Psychotherapy is very effective in helping a person learn to think positively and to let go of distressing thoughts, and sometimes an antianxiety medication can be used judiciously as an adjunct to therapy. Current research is available on the positive aspects of holistic approaches.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Sometimes our old pain associated with tragic experiences is difficult to let go of, especially when these experiences have threatened our sense of integrity and safety. A trauma can set the stage for worry years after the original event. Coming to terms with PTSD in psychotherapy usually involves learning to talk about the trauma, grieving the losses associated with the event, and finding ways to forgive.