Anxiety Disorders: Know the Different Types and Symptoms

July 27, 2020

The past few months have been challenging. As a result, many of us, including children, parents, and seniors, are experiencing feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.

Occasional anxiety over recent events, on top of additional personal stress, is normal. However, the feelings of anxiety caused by an anxiety disorder, do not go away and can worsen over time. These feelings of anxiety can interfere with your daily life and may be difficult to control.

Knowing the difference between normal fears or worries and anxiety disorders is important and can help you recognize them and seek treatment.

 

Different Types of Anxiety Disorders

Worried manEach type of anxiety disorder has its own unique symptoms:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

A person with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) has frequent or constant feelings of worry and anxiety about issues, such as health, work, social interactions, or everyday situations. These feelings can cause problems in areas of your life such as school, work, and social interactions. In some cases, people with GAD have experienced these feelings since childhood or adolescence, while in other cases, they may have been triggered by temporary stress.

Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Feeling irritable
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Tense muscles
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep

Panic Disorder

Panic attacks are periods of intense fear that can occur suddenly. Over time, they can be triggered by certain situations. A person with panic disorder has repeated and unexpected panic attacks, and often worries about when the next attack will happen.

During a panic attack, some people may experience:

  • Feelings of impending doom
  • Feelings of being out of control
  • Heart palpitations, a pounding heartbeat, or an accelerated heart rate
  • Sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, or choking
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking

Phobia-related Disorders

A phobia is an intense fear caused by a specific object or situation. Common phobias include flying and heights, but people can develop phobias regarding almost anything. People with phobias feel fear that is out of proportion to the actual danger caused by that situation or object. People with a phobia may:

  • Experience an irrational or excessive worry about encountering the feared object or situation
  • Endure unavoidable objects and situations with intense anxiety or dread
  • Experience immediate, intense anxiety upon encountering the feared object or situation
  • Take steps to avoid the feared object or situation

 

Know the Risk Factors

handsThe risk factors for each type of anxiety disorder can vary, but some general risk factors for all types of anxiety disorders can include:

  • A family or genetic history of anxiety or other mental illnesses
  • Consumption of caffeine or medications (such as certain steroids or over-the-counter cold remedies) that can produce anxiety-like effects
  • Exposure to stressful and negative events in early childhood or adulthood
  • Health conditions, such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmias

 

Actions You Can Take

Girl con videocallWhile you can’t predict what will cause anxiety disorders to develop, you can take the following steps to help reduce the impact of symptoms if you are anxious:

  • Avoid alcohol or drug use since it can cause or worsen anxiety.
  • Make it a priority to get a good night’s sleep, since poor sleep quality, insomnia, or sleep deprivation may increase your risks.
  • Our social interactions have been limited during the last few months but talking with friends over the phone and doing things that you enjoy while staying safe may help reduce your worries.
  • Seek help early if you are experiencing symptoms that don’t go away.

If you have an anxiety disorder, you should work with your doctor to choose the best treatment for you. In addition to psychotherapy or medication, there are other ways that you may benefit from when dealing with an anxiety disorder.

  • Support groups. A support group alone is not a substitute for therapy. But, in conjunction with other treatment, joining a support group and sharing your experiences with others could benefit you.
  • Meditation and techniques to manage stress. These can help people with anxiety disorders calm themselves and enhance the effects of therapy.

 

We Are Here to Support You

Doctor and patientYour mental health is important. If you are unsure whether you are experiencing occasional anxiety or an anxiety disorder, you can call AltaMed Behavioral Health Services directly at (855) 425-1777. We are here for you, and together we can find the answers you need.

 

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The Services to Help You Grow Healthy and the Protection to Keep You Safe

July 07, 2020

For the past 50 years, our top priority has been helping our patients grow healthy. Our locations remain open and safe to support you and your family’s health needs. While we have telehealth visits available, there’s no substitute for in-person visits. Here’s how we’re keeping you safe:

All of our sites follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines:

  • Patients and staff are screened for COVID-19 symptoms before being permitted to enter.
  • Everyone is required to wear a mask.
  • We have placed hand sanitizer stations throughout our facilities.
  • All exam rooms are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between each patient.
  • All of our providers and staff use personal protective equipment (PPE) that includes a mask, protective eyewear, a plastic face shield, and gloves (when appropriate).

 

Use Our Patient Portal to Get In and Out 

Couple checking computer The MyAltaMed patient portal now has more features that can help you minimize contact while getting you checked in and ready for your appointment faster. Using the patient portal, you can:

  • Schedule, register, and check in to your appointment from your own device
  • Communicate with your health care team
  • View lab results and visit notes
  • Set up and attend a telehealth visit

 

Now Open and Serving You Safely

Altamed ClinicTelehealth visits are convenient, but they are no substitute for in-person care – and you can’t get a vaccination over video-chat! And, if you have a newborn, bringing them for in-person visits is critically important. Whether you need a dental appointment or an appointment for any of our other services, our facilities remain open and safe for you and your family to visit.

If you have any questions or concerns about your health or how to schedule an appointment, please call us at (888) 499-9303.

 

7 Ways to Support Your Child’s Mental Health

June 19, 2020

Our children and teenagers are suffering the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the civil unrest that has shaken our nation, just like we are. Even if they and their immediate families have stayed healthy, these crises have taken a toll on young people. From the outrage over the murders of countless unarmed Black people at the hands of the police and the racism it put on display, to the sadness of missing important life milestones, and the anxiety  they surely feel from all of the bad news out there, our youth need our support more than ever.

It’s natural that many of our children are sad and grieving, but increasingly, health experts worry about long-term mental health issues. While it’s true that children are often tougher, smarter, and more resilient than we give them credit for, we need to take their mental health seriously. Here are a few ways you can support your children.

 

Let Your Kids Be Sad and Grieve

Section 1As a parent, it’s natural that you want to protect your child from pain. However, denying them or trying to distract them from their sadness is actually doing them a big disservice. According to AltaMed’s Director of Behavioral Health, Sandra Pisano, PsyD,  this can make your child less resilient, which means they may have a harder time bouncing back from future sadness and disappointment. To help your child develop this important resiliency, help them participate in creative and playful activities. “Creativity and play stimulate the “pleasure” and “calming” parts of the brain, which in turn prevents or reduces sad and fearful reactions,” Dr. Pisano says. You might consider challenging your child to draw or write a story about what they’re feeling. This will stimulate their creativity while allowing them to honestly process their thoughts.

 

Communicate Honestly but Optimistically

Section 2

Even if your first instinct is to protect your kids from the harsh realities of current events, this could backfire. To some degree, your kids know what’s going on – and if they aren’t getting the full picture, they are probably imagining that things are much worse than they really are. 

Communicate with them honestly and frequently, including discussions about the impact of recent events, especially if your family or friends have been directly affected. Be straightforward and include reasons for optimism, too – for example, point to how individuals and communities across the country have pulled together to offer support for one another during these uncertain times.

 

Introduce Them to Mindfulness

Section 3Maybe you’ve heard about mindfulness at your job or from a social media influencer. It’s the practice of being present: slowing down, doing one thing at a time, and focusing on living in each moment. 

Mindfulness can help kids deal with anxiety and negative emotions, but it also has many other positive benefits, such as helping them make better decisions and improving their self-esteem. And, if they learn mindfulness at an early age, they can use it for the rest of their lives.

If you’re new to the concept, there’s a simple exercise you both can practice together. When you or your child find yourself in a stressful or uncomfortable situation, just STOP:

S: Stop. Whatever you’re doing, take a time-out.
T: Take a breath. As you breathe, tune everything out but the feeling of pulling air into your body. 
O: Observe. Notice what is happening, and your thoughts and feelings, too. 
P: Proceed. Whatever you do next, think about what you’ve experienced in this moment. 

Some people who practice mindfulness combine it with meditation, but you don’t have to – and neither do your kids. The best way to teach your kids mindfulness is to practice it yourself, and then together.

 

Limit Their Intake of News

Section 4Thanks to social media and being home all the time, we’re all seeing more news than ever – and many of us are finding that it’s terrible for our mental health.

An easy way to limit the intake of news is by limiting device usage and screen time. Think about creating device-free zones or times – for example, no devices at the dinner table or an hour before bedtime. You can also make time for your family to watch or read the news then talk about it. Try to speak about the news honestly, while also emphasizing any positive aspects,  and discuss what you can do to keep your family safe, healthy, and connected to loved ones during this time.

 

Keep Providing a Healthy Environment 

Section 5One of the best ways to support your child is by continuing to maintain a nurturing, stable environment. 

⦁    Make sure you create structure and routine in their daily lives.
⦁    Even if you want to spoil them or give in to requests for fast food, continue to cook healthy, balanced meals – good nutrition can make a big difference in their moods (as well as your own).
⦁    Keeping them healthy means keeping them on their vaccine schedule. This is more important than ever since many children have missed their shots, which could put your child at risk when schools start to open up.
⦁    Kids require more sleep than we do – even teenagers require 8-9 hours a night, so help them get a good night’s sleep.

 

Recognize the Signs that Something’s Not Right

Section 6We all know kids – especially teenagers – can be moody. However, look out for these clear signs that there could be a bigger problem.

⦁    Noticeable changes in personality and temperament
⦁    Fatigue or claiming to be tired all the time
⦁    Anger or acting out – children often mask their depression with aggressive behavior
⦁    Socially withdrawn
⦁    Difficulty thinking or concentrating
⦁    Expressing feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
⦁    Talk of self-harm or suicide

 

Get Them Help If They Need It

Section 7Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues are real, and they can have serious consequences for children if left untreated. If you believe something is wrong, talk to your pediatrician. They may be able to give you additional guidance or refer you to a Behavioral Health specialist

Our pediatricians are taking appointments now – your child may be able to have a virtual visit, but in-person visits are required for immunizations. Your and your child’s mental health matters to us, and we want to help!