40 million Americans suffer from some type of anxiety disorder, making it the most commonly diagnosed psychological problem in the US. Anxiety is defined here as a feeling of fear, dread or apprehension. This includes frequent and excessive feelings of worry about topics such as children, money, or health. When worry seems to take up too much of the day, and it’s realistically out of proportion to the situation, we refer to it as “generalized anxiety”. When excessive worry, even panic, is often directed at a particular kind of activity, such as driving, being in a crowded store or elevator, for example, it’s called a “phobia”. Social anxiety, is defined as excessive worry about being watched, judged, embarrassed in social situations. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder where people experience repeated upsetting thoughts and feelings, (obsessions), and/or feel compelled to engage in repeated compulsive behaviors, such as hand washing, or checking all electrical appliances an excessive number of times before leaving the house. In Panic Disorder, anxiety is experienced in the form of very intense panic attacks during which people feel as though they are going crazy or having a heart attack because of severe symptoms such as hyperventilation, heart palpitations, dizziness, and sweating.
If we include the millions more in this country who don’t fit all diagnostic criteria, but experience enough worry to interfere with their overall health and happiness, anxiety is truly an American epidemic. Dr. Sam and her associate Cindy Gelber use a highly effective combination of short-term psychotherapy combined with other strategies such as supplementation, exercise and stress reducing activities to beat the anxiety that has been getting the best of you. Our commitment to you is that you will begin feeling less within 1-3 sessions.
As is the case for all major mental disorders, there is a strong genetic component to anxiety. The amygdala and hippocampus have both been found to play important roles in generating anxiety in the brain. The heritability rates for anxiety disorders among close blood relatives is considered significant. At Dr. Sam Von Reiche and Associates, therefore, we consider it essential to address your anxiety directly on a brain level. Given our holistic approach, however, we don’t simply rush you to a physician for medication. In contrast, we advocate using supplements and herbs such as 5-H-T-P (a precursor to serotonin), a natural substance called SAM-e (S- Adenosyl methionine)-which also has potent anxiety reducing effects, and GABA, a calming substance found naturally in the brain.
Cindy Gelber and I also refer a large number of our patients for brain training technology called Neurofeedback, which can have some amazing and rapid results for anxiety. Regular exercise is another critical component to anxiety treatment (as for any mood challenge) and overall stress management. Meditation is a powerful anxiety reducing practice, in and of itself. Cindy and I also strongly advocate a diet lower in refined carbs and sugar and higher in protein to keep blood sugar stable.
True to our holistic approach, Cindy and I only refer clients for meds when other strategies prove insufficient. And even then, the goal is to keep the dosage low and duration as short as possible. The benzodiazepenes (such as Xanax and Ativan) and antidepressants used to treat anxiety often have very negative side effects including weight gain, loss of sex drive and erectile dysfunction, grogginess and fatigue. It can also be very difficult to get off these meds due to withdrawal symptoms. Perhaps most importantly, compelling evidence has come to light in the last several years about harmful effects of long- term antidepressant and benzodiazepine use. At Dr. Sam and Associates, we believe that anxiety meds can have a place in the healing spectrum as long as alternatives are explored first and they are part of a comprehensive wellness plan.
For every mental health challenge, there is a real solution. At Dr. Sam and Associates, my associate Cindy Gelber and I work with you as a team to help you develop a more positive and resilient approach to what stresses you out. Not only do we use “cognitive- behavioral” strategies, such as practicing more rational ways of looking at situations, and homework to develop various skills (such as facing situations you are afraid of in limited doses, limiting your worry to 15 minutes a day, and keeping a journal) but we will help you develop a more empowered identity. Instead of feeling fearful that negative circumstances outside your control will get in your way, you will feel a growing sense of personal power to create the life you truly want. Your thoughts will be more positive, and the resulting feelings (and results) will mirror those thoughts. Even people prone to anxiety who feel more in control of their destinies experience less worry, more self esteem and life satisfaction. Call or email Dr. Sam and Cindy Gelber to start feeling better fast.