Do You Have Anxiety? How a Psychiatrist Can Help with a Proper Diagnosis and Treatment

Everyone worries from time to time and some level of anxiety is normal. Anxiety can be general and non-specific or can be externally driven. For example, anxiety can take center stage for long spells like when you have lost a job or if you have been diagnosed with a health issue. An anxiety disorder, on the other hand, is often diagnosed when the anxiety becomes bothersome, making functioning difficult or daily activities enjoyable. Anxiety disorders can manifest themselves in many different ways.

About 40 million adults in the United States have an anxiety disorder, and these disorders have many forms — from obsessive-compulsive disorder to panic attacks to post-traumatic stress syndrome to generalized anxiety disorder.

As a specialist in this area, board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Matthew Goldenberg is very familiar with the different types and presentations of anxiety and how it can disrupt your life and happiness. One thing he has learned from his training and from many years of practice is that no two people suffer anxiety in the same way. Dr. Goldenberg has found that each patient benefits from highly individualized, targeted and professional care.

What is anxiety?

Your body is well equipped for many different types of stressful situations, including those where there is perceived danger. Called your fight-or-flight response, this reaction is a survival response that’s initiated by your sympathetic nervous system.

There are physical changes that occur in your body when fight-or-flight kicks into gear, such as an increase in your heart rate and more blood flow to your muscles to allow you to defend yourself or flee. And stress hormones like cortisol flood your system to keep your mind and body alert.

When you have an anxiety disorder, this response system often is not functioning properly and it fires up too often, often without an actual physical stressor, leaving you in a more constant state of stress, panic, fear or worry, which takes a mental and physical toll.

Your anxiety is your own

An important point we want to make is that there is not a scale upon which you can measure your level of anxiety compared to “normal” or compared to someone else. What is important is how the mental thoughts or physical symptoms of anxiety are experienced by you and how they are impacting your life and ability to fully function. Which is why it’s important to seek help if you feel anxiety is negatively impacting your life. Anxiety is not black or white but a spectrum of signs and symptoms that are as individual as you are.

For example, you might be prone to worrying, but now your worry has leaped to new heights and you are experiencing panic attacks or anxiety that is so debilitating you are avoiding many things in your life. This “anxious avoidance” often leads to more anxiety as the different areas of your life become unmanageable and the hills of stress become mountains of stress. 

On the other end of the spectrum, maybe you have long prided yourself on being fairly level-headed, but these days you’re waking up to this constant background worry. It’s subtle, but you can feel your heart racing and you cannot concentrate or focus as well. Maybe it is impacting your memory and recall. 

In both cases, there is likely an anxiety disorder at play, but of different varieties. We recognize that and Dr. Goldenberg meets you where you are and can help make a proper and evidence-based diagnosis.

Getting to the bottom of your anxiety

Anxiety can be incredibly frustrating because it often seems to attack without rhyme or reason. As a psychiatrist, Dr. Goldenberg understands the problem differently and works with you to pinpoint what might be underlying and driving your excessive worry and fear.

For example, perhaps you have not properly processed past trauma and it is showing up in the form of panic attacks or nightmares and flashbacks. Or, maybe your anxiety stems from a specific phobia, such as social anxiety disorder, which affects about 7% of the population in the United States.

Identifying where your anxiety is coming from is often best done with a professional like Dr. Goldenberg as he can dig down to reveal what you have been unable to see or understand as a source of your anxiety.

Treating your anxiety

Once Dr. Goldenberg makes a diagnosis and can help you better understand the sources and causes of your anxiety, he works on easing the heightened stress response in your body. As important, he works on positive and healthy coping mechanisms that can take the teeth out of your anxiety. Treatment can be in the form of medication management, non-medications like evidence-based therapies or perhaps both. 

Whether Dr. Goldenberg recommends psychotherapy, medications, behavioral therapies, or another therapy, his goal is to create an individualized and customized anxiety toolkit for each patient that is unique to your circumstances and goals.

For expert help with your anxiety, contact Dr. Goldenberg to set up a free, 10-minute phone consultation. Dr. Goldenberg is based in Santa Monica, California and sees patients from all over California, including San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. He also sees patients by secure telehealth appointments from all over California and Alaska, including Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Wasilla, Wasilla, Kodiak, and other areas within the State of Alaska, for telepsychiatry care. To schedule your consultation, simply click here.

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