Group Therapy – Panic and Anxiety, Session 1Posted in Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Group Therapy: Panic and Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Attacks, PTSD, Series, Support, Therapy, Therapy By Faye Nox On August 9, 2012
Trigger Warning: mention of rape, sexual assault
This is the first of an 8 week series reviewing panic and anxiety from a group therapy point of view. It is based on the group therapy services available through Langley Memorial Hospital. Feel free to follow along and answer the questions posted in each section.
Session 1: Exploring Anxiety Disorders
Did You Know:
- 1 in 10 people suffer from an anxiety disorder
- 1 in 4 people will experience significant problems with anxiety at some point in their lives
What this means:
- Over 400,000 Canadians are currently suffering from at least one anxiety disorder.
An anxiety about, or avoiding, places or situations where escape would be difficult or embarrassing, or where help may not be available in the event of panic. Also classified as a fear of open spaces or crowds. It is classed under a larger group known as “Phobic Disorders”
Panic disorders are identified through a high occurrence of panic attacks. A panic attack is a period where there is a sudden onset of intense: apprehension, fearfulness, or terror. It is often associated with feelings of impending doom. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations, discomfort, choking or smothering sensations. Fear of of “going crazy” or “losing control” are often present.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD):
OCD is characterized by obsessions that cause high levels of anxiety or distress, and/or by compulsions put into practice to neutralize said anxiety.
Common obsessions include:
- recurrent thoughts of images, numbers or words
- recurrent thoughts that something has not been done properly, even if they know they have done it correctly (ie: turning off the stove or putting something away)
- recurrent worries about germs, infections, dirt, dust contamination, cleanliness
- persistent ideas that certain things or objects must always be in a certain place, order or position.
Common compulsions (to alleviate anxiety over obsessions) include:
- hand washing
- cleaning house
- touching certain objects
- going back and forth through a door
- placing items a certain way
- hoarding objects
- seeking reassurance
- tapping or counting.
A person with OCD will usually recognize the senselessness of impulsive behaviors, and does not get pleasure from carrying out the activity, simply short lived relief from their anxiety over their obsession.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):
PTSD is characterized by re-experiencing of an extremely traumatic event, accompanied by symptoms of high levels of stress, (negative) arousal, and attempts to avoid stimulation that would be associated with the trauma. This condition is commonly seen in war veterans (especially Vietnam and Iraq) and victims of long term abuse or rape.
Social Anxiety/Social Phobia:
Social anxiety is commonly known as “the fear of evaluation”. It is a fear of social situations or performances that may lead to evaluation and judgment by others. The individual fears embarrassment or social stigma during these situations. Symptoms are typically:
- red face or blushing
- head shaking
- hands shaking
- voice cracking or faltering.
These symptoms are only present in the company of others and cause further fears of being seen suffering these symptoms or losing control of the symptoms. This is another condition classed under “Phobic Disorders”
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):
GAD is characterized by at least six months of persistent and excessive anxiety and worry.
Questions for This Week:
What factors have contributed to your panic or anxiety:
(these can include thing such as: relationship conflicts, financial worries or trauma)
How does panic or anxiety impact how you meet your most basic self-care needs:
(Examples include eating, sleeping, showering, dressing)
How does panic or anxiety impact your involvement with leisure interests:
(this might include hobbies, exercise or socializing)
How does panic or anxiety impact your spirituality:
(such as hope, meaning, or purpose.)
How does panic or anxiety impact your communications and relationships:
(in places such as work place, family, or friends)
How does panic or anxiety impact your involvement with productive tasks/roles:
(this might be at work, school, household responsibilities, parenting or pet care)
If you are comfortable, feel free to share your answers in the comments section and I’ll share some of them in next weeks session!
I am a photographer and writer, trying to make it in a competitive industry. I have struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life, though for the better part of ten years, I managed to avoid the health care system, until a breakdown in 2009. While I am currently on medication for my depression, my goal is to be drug free and to share holistic solutions that I find on my journey.
Q. What factors have contributed to your panic or anxiety:
A. Experiencing loss at a young age, being bullied and publicly mocked. Having depression because although my medication controls my anxiety relatively well, whenever I have an intense negative emotion, I get anxiety fearing that this time will be the time I simply cannot cope.
Q. How does panic or anxiety impact how you meet your most basic self-care needs:
A. When it’s bad, I don’t want to eat and I cannot sleep.
Q. How does panic or anxiety impact your involvement with leisure interests:
A. I’d seek out distractions that I’d only half-heartedly participant in. Like putting a movie on in the background but staring into space trying to calm myself down instead.
As for socializing, it would cause me to remove myself from the group and seek solitude.
Q. How does panic or anxiety impact your spirituality:
A. It makes me doubt my intuition which I consider my spiritual guide. It makes me doubt my safeness in this Universe. It makes me question whether or not there truly is a guided path I am on or whether or not I’m vulnerable to all of life’s hardships with no way of coping.
Q. How does panic or anxiety impact your communications and relationships:
A. When really anxious, at work I barely speak. It makes me irritable because I’m absorbed in my head; I get angry with everyone who doesn’t understand the urgency inside me as I try to find my “safety” (a calm state).
Q. How does panic or anxiety impact your involvement with productive tasks/roles:
A. At work, usually by the end of the shift if I have been anxious the entire time, I have calmed down but through-out it makes me feel rushed, like I’m desperate to get out so I can be alone with my thoughts. Sometimes I would have to go to the bathroom to collect myself. So it affects my ability to put my best effort in, so instead I do as little as possible and as poorly as possible, as long as it’s quick.