Dr. Kathleen Diane Kozma, PH.D. is a psychologist in Ashburn, VA specializing in psychology.
Anxiety is a generic name given to a variety of conditions characterized by unusual amounts of fear and worry, especially unrealistic fears and tension. People who suffer from anxiety often are aware that their fears are irrational, but that knowledge does not make the feeling of being scared and anxious go away. To qualify as anxiety, symptoms must last for 6 months or more and interfere with the way a person lives their daily life. Some cases may be mild, where, for example, a person simply avoids certain situations. Other cases can be severe enough to be disabling.
Some of the specific conditions covered under the general label of anxiety include:
Collectively, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issues diagnosed in the United States -- even more common than depression. Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with anxiety, and it is extremely common for a person with anxiety to have another illness at the same time, such as depression, a physical illness, or substance abuse.
Treatment for anxiety usually involves medication and psychotherapy together. Medications used may include antidepressants (which also work for anxiety), anti-anxiety medications, or beta blockers (which can be used to control the physical symptoms of anxiety). Psychotherapy can be useful to teach patients new ways of thinking and reacting so that they can manage their feelings of worry and fear. Support groups can also be very effective for anxiety, and they can be a form of treatment themselves for social phobias. Stress management, relaxation techniques, and meditation all help reduce feelings of anxiety or of being out of control. Finally, having a strong support network of family and friends is an excellent way to help manage the difficulties of life with anxiety.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a form of psychotherapy or treatment for mental illness. It comes in a variety of methods, but the basic concept behind all CBT is the same -- thoughts cause feelings, which cause actions. If someone wishes to change problematic behaviors or emotions in their lives, they need to start by changing their thoughts. CBT examines ideas and looks for patterns that may be causing harmful actions. The therapist helps patients modify those thought patterns and, in doing so, helps them feel better and cope more effectively.
CBT is one of the most widely studied forms of psychotherapy, and it has been shown to be extremely effective for a variety of mental illnesses. Some of the issues that respond well to CBT include mood disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse, sleep disorders, and psychotic disorders. In some cases, CBT has been shown to be as effective or even more effective than medication. One of the interesting things that the scientific study of CBT has shown is that CBT actually changes the way the brain works, physically improving its function.
CBT differs from traditional psychotherapy in a few key ways. One of the most important distinctions is the emphasis on the power and responsibility of the patient in CBT. The patient will be encouraged to be the one asking the questions in CBT therapy, and most patients are assigned homework to complete outside of therapy sessions. There is a concept in CBT that everyone has power the power to change how they feel, even if they cannot control the situation, and this can be very empowering for patients. Because of this power shift, the therapist-client relationship is not as critical to success in CBT as it is in other modes of therapy. Patients should still get along well with their therapists, but they do not need a deep, dependent emotional connection to them. Finally, because CBT often treats a specific issue or problem, it is usually shorter in duration than traditional therapy. While some therapies may continue for years, CBT lasts on average just 16 sessions.
Everyone knows what it feels like to get the blues once in a while. But depression is a serious illness that is more severe than a bad day and lasts much longer. Symptoms of depression stop a person from being able to function and enjoy daily activities for weeks or months at a time. It can happen to anyone, and it isn't something that people can control by force of will or "snap out of it."
Some common symptoms of depression include:
We don't yet know what causes depression, but it's thought that it is a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and social influences. Because of this, the most effective treatments for depression combine medication with psychotherapy. Therapy, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy, can be extremely helpful in resolving the negative thoughts and feelings that come with depression. It gives patients new tools that they can use themselves to cope when their depression is making them feel down.
Some of the common medications used to treat depression include antidepressants such as SSRI's (Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft) or atypical antidepressants (Cymbalta, Wellbutrin). It's important to remember that these medications have different effects on everybody, and no one medication works right for everyone. Patients may have to try a couple before finding the one that works just right for them. If the first medication they try doesn't work, they should talk to their doctor about trying something else. In extreme cases where medication is not enough, electro-convulsive therapy and hospitalization may be the answer to keeping a severely depressed person safe.
Depression is a difficult illness to deal with, but it is more common than believed and there are many people who can help. With the right treatment, individuals with depression can get back to fully enjoying life again.
She has a state license in Virginia.
Licensed In: Virginia
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