We are currently living through one of the most challenging years in recent world history. The combination of economic distress, isolation, and the widespread loss of human life has naturally resulted in increased rates of mental illness across the board. However, it would be disingenuous to suggest that this trend is new. The truth is that organizations devoted to addressing mental illness in the United States have noted for several years that the rates of mental illness are continuously increasing. And we want to look at the link between sleep disorders and mental illness.


For the best cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia in Los Angeles, visit CBA. We provide treatment for a range of disorders, with high rates of success. When you visit our insomnia specialist in Beverly Hills, you can get back to a better quality of life.

Link between Sleep Disorders and Mental Illness

In 2018, Mental Health America found that 19% of American adults experienced mental illness that year. That is a 1.5 million person increase over the previous year. These same trends appear to replicate themselves among youth in the United States. Both are matched by increased rates of suicide ideation. Therefore, it is clear that mental illness is a prevalent and growing issue in the United States, one that we need to tackle to protect the health of the community.

The Chicken and the Egg

Previously, it was widely believed that mental health disorders were largely responsible for the fact that an astounding percentage of mental health patients also suffer from a sleep disorder. Continued research has clarified that perception, leading scientists to see the relationship as far more complex. Essentially, the link between sleep disorders and mental illness is a circular one, much like the proverbial chicken and the egg.

Researchers now realize that mental illness and sleep disorders are inextricably linked and often reinforce one another. This reinforcement may actually explain why mental health disorders can be so difficult to overcome. Lack of sleep makes it difficult to regulate our thoughts and emotions. Then the resulting struggle makes it more difficult to sleep. For many people, this is a serious problem that can make their struggle feel impossible. Fortunately, there are research-driven approaches that can help to relieve this burden.

Getting the Help You Need

Cognitive behavior therapy is a complex approach to treatment that works to help patients recognize harmful thoughts while developing coping mechanisms. This form of therapy can be paired with medication and additional counseling if appropriate. Still, your cognitive behavioral therapist’s primary aim will be to have you examine your own thoughts critically.

Analyzing your own anxieties and fears is a helpful way of undermining their connection to reality. Your therapist will help you isolate the thoughts that trigger your symptoms based on your mental illness’s nature. From there, you can discuss what validity those thoughts have, if any. By learning to recognize the thoughts and feelings that aggravate your mental illness, you can start deconstructing them to build a healthier relationship with yourself.

Applying Cognitive Behavior Therapy to Sleep Disorders

At Cognitive Behavior Associates, the staff understands that mental illness and sleep disorders go hand in hand. Their goal is to treat the whole person and that includes resolving sleep disorders that may make it harder for you to recover from your mental illness. Insomnia is the most common complaint, but there are several sleep disorders that commonly coexist with mental illness.

Working on Thoughts

For the most part, the general approach of cognitive behavior therapy can apply directly to patients suffering from insomnia. The CBA experts recognize that the harmful thoughts you have are often most clear as you lie awake in bed. However, there are some additional forms of treatment that your therapist may suggest in addition to your CBT treatment.

Programmable daylight lamps and blue light filtering lenses are some of the most common. These are useful because they limit the effect of external stimuli and maximize your natural circadian rhythm. Regardless of what approach you choose, CBT will give you everything you need to tackle your insomnia and your mental illness at the same time.

Many people ask themselves: am I socially anxious or introverted? Everyone experiences moments when they don’t want to interact with large groups of people. You just need time to wind down and recharge. However, if you find that you tend to prefer spending your time alone or in small groups, you’ve probably fielded more than a few questions surrounding your approach to socializing. Your family and friends may even worry that you have a form of social anxiety, but it is just as likely that you’re simply more introverted than others.

Am I Socially Anxious or Introverted?

Luckily, there are a few easy ways that you can determine whether or not you do experience social anxiety. If you do, we provide the best anxiety treatment Los Angeles has.

Examining the Underlying Emotion

True introverts without social anxiety take real pleasure in having large chunks of time to themselves. They tend to be relatively comfortable in social settings and reserve the ability to socialize for the moments that suit them. By sharp contrast, a person with social anxiety avoids social engagements out of fear. The truth is that many people with social anxiety are also naturally extroverted. They crave interaction with other people, but they are afraid of being judged, ignored, or unwelcome.

With your therapist in Beverly Hills, you can begin working against these patterns. As you do, you can take control over your life once more.

Nature vs. Nurture

The current theory, as it is understood by prominent psychologists, is that introverts are typically born. From childhood onward, introverts tend to find activities that allow them to enjoy the pleasure of their own company. These periods of isolation are mixed with regular, healthy social interaction that gives them the social skills they need. Therefore, an introvert without social anxiety has no fear of interacting with other people. If they say “no” to a party invitation, then it’s probably because they’d rather be reading a book in front of a nice fire that night.

Social anxiety is a learned behavior pattern. There are literally thousands of minor traumatic experiences that can lead to its manifestation, but it typically starts in childhood. Bullying is a common trigger for later social anxiety, but any repeated exposure to judgmental people or a lack of confidence-building exercises could result in social anxiety. When a person with social anxiety says “no” to a party invitation, they’re more likely to avoid the situation out of fear that they won’t fit in or be invited out of pity.

Determining When You Need Help

If you or someone you care about is a true introvert, then you just need to be left alone. Let your friends know that once you’ve recharged a little bit, you’ll be ready to socialize again. Introverts have their own way of balancing their personal needs, and it’s a perfectly healthy way of coping with the stresses of everyday life. On the other hand, someone with moderate to severe social anxiety might benefit from a little counseling.

Cognitive behavior therapy is a common treatment for people who struggle with social anxiety. It works by helping the patient to identify the thoughts that trigger their negative emotions. From there, they can begin to unpack those emotions. Their therapist walks the patient through those thoughts and emotions in order to help them see that there’s little to no logical basis. Over time, the patient’s belief that they are unwelcome or unwanted is challenged one by one. This helps to slowly re-build the patient’s confidence, allowing them to feel less anxious while interacting with other people. Of course, there are times when people can be judgmental, so cognitive behavior therapy also works to prepare patients for those circumstances while recognizing that they represent a small percentage of all interactions.

The Takeaway

Social anxiety is born of negative interactions and a lack of self-confidence. Cases are often mild to moderate, allowing the people affected to live very normal lives despite their anxiety. Fortunately, even the most severe cases are treatable. It just takes a little help and a lot of patience.

There is nothing quite like waking up refreshed after a good night’s rest. Unfortunately, about 35% of Americans regularly miss out on that opportunity. Through a combination of living in a high-stress society and practicing poor sleep hygiene, millions of Americans lay awake in bed every night hoping sleep will come to them. But treating insomnia without medication is not only possible, but highly effective.

As a result, an entire sub-category of the pharmaceutical industry now, exists to meet the widespread demand for sleep-inducing medications. Some are habit-forming, while others are easier to use without the risk of addiction. These medications are an excellent option for occasional use, perhaps after a particularly stressful day. None of them are intended for daily use over a prolonged period. So it is important to find a long-term solution.

We provide the best cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia Los Angeles has around.

Identifying Insomnia

Everyone has some restless nights, but there are specific parameters that we can use to identify chronic insomnia. Generally speaking, chronic insomnia occurs at least three days a week for at least three consecutive months. If the patient hasn’t had the opportunity to get adequate sleep due to a demanding job or substance abuse is involved, then it is possible that the insomnia is a symptom of lifestyle choices rather than existing as a condition itself. In these cases, the patient will need to address underlying factors first.

Treating Insomnia without Medication: Analyzing Your Sleep Hygiene

For those with stubborn insomnia, it may be beneficial to first examine your daily practices, including sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to the regular practice of habits that promote reliable sleeping patterns. These include going to sleep at a predetermined hour every day of the week and waking up at the same time every day. Good sleep hygiene also includes avoiding electronics one hour before bed and avoiding caffeinated products after noon.

Of course, a fresh change will not have an immediate effect. If you have found holes in your sleep hygiene, you should do whatever you can to address them. It won’t happen overnight, so you should aim to make gradual changes to your routine. Adjusting your habits could take several weeks, and it may take several weeks more to take full effect. At six to eight weeks, if you’ve experienced no change, then you should consider a more targeted approach.

Using Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Sleep hygiene is highly personal, and it doesn’t work in the same way for everyone. For people with anxiety and depression, it can be exceptionally difficult to overcome insomnia. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a research-driven treatment that strives to help patients analyze their own thoughts and behaviors to better understand the nature of their insomnia.

In many ways cognitive behavior therapy is related to sleep hygiene but does more to target mental health complications that could be contributing to the patient’s sleeping experience. Those who specialize in cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia aim to help patients target the negative cognitions and behaviors that have developed around sleep due to prolonged frustration and sleep deprivation. Overall, this approach to therapy has proven highly effective. A full 100% of patients in multiple studies noted improved sleep, and 75% achieved a normal sleeping schedule, getting at least 7 hours of continuous sleep per night.

Making the Decision to Pursue Treatment

Sleep deprivation can have serious side effects with the potential to impair cognitive function and ability to handle mental or emotional stress. If you are experiencing the symptoms of chronic insomnia, then you should seriously consider receiving professional treatment. At Cognitive Behavior Associates, you may receive treatment in person or through telepsychotherapy. These options allow patients to choose how they would like to approach treatment and move towards their goals.

A panic disorder is characterized by “repeated, unexpected panic attacks” over a period of time. These patients may find themselves apprehensive of another attack. Panic disorders are often connected to traumatic experiences or sudden change. So patients likely to avoid the experiences that tend to trigger their panic attacks. But what risk factors contribute to panic disorders?

Visit the best panic attack specialist Los Angeles has around at Cognitive Behavior Associates.

What Risk Factors Contribute to Panic Disorders?

Not everyone who has experienced a panic attack has a panic disorder. In fact, panic attacks are not uncommon. Studies suggest that between 3 and 5% of the United States population experience at least one panic attack each year. However, that is not to say it isn’t an important indicator of mental health. If you have had even one panic attack, you should seek professional medical attention. Experts can help ensure the problem does not escalate to the point of being a disorder.

What is a Panic Attack?

Panic attacks generally last for 5 to 10 minutes. They remain part of a natural stress response that fits within the realm of the fight or flight instinct. The pulse quickens. The rate of breathing increases, but the person undergoing the panic attack will likely act seemingly irrationally. It is best described as an intense fear of fear. As a result, there is no direct threat to fight or run from, leaving the patient stuck in a state of panic with no immediate way to address their fear.

Given that the body can’t rely on normal responses perceived danger, it proves impossible to predict exactly what symptoms someone may experience during a panic attack. Nausea, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, and a lack of control appear commonly. However, the nature of the trigger that set off the panic attack can result in different symptoms. That means that if someone seems in an irrationally panicked state in response to a non-immediate threat, they could be dealing with a panic attack.

Considering Risk Factors

Genetics do play a role in panic disorders in some cases. If your family has a strong history of them, you should consider proactive treatment. This especially applies if you struggle with other aspects of your mental health. Research also shows that women prove about twice as likely to develop panic disorders. However, whether this stems from genetic or socially driven sources remains unclear.

That being said, the most prominent risk factor for panic disorders is a traumatic life experience. Abuse, the loss of a loved one, a near-death experience, or a major life change can negatively affect a person’s sense of control. Although we don’t always think about it, feeling control over the most personal and important aspects of your life is integral to feeling secure and happy. When a person who has experienced trauma or a major life event encounters a trigger, it can awaken that lack of control, prompting an intense fear response.

How to Alleviate the Symptoms of a Panic Disorder

In some cases, medical professionals will suggest medication to help control the immediate symptoms of a severe panic disorder. However, medication never should serve as a full replacement for targeted therapy. Anyone suffering from a panic disorder should have the full benefit of a medical team. And one prepared to use medication and behavioral therapy together to give the patient the best quality of life as quickly as possible. Cognitive behavior therapy exists as an important part of this treatment.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Los Angeles

At Cognitive Behavior Associates, experts work with patients to learn about the nature of their disorder. This baseline understanding always proves an important tool. The staff help patients recognize their triggers and slowly work through breathing techniques to help reduce their response. From there, they can help patients to restructure their thought process by using logic to identify unhelpful thoughts while the patient is not under the influence of the panic attack. Due to this careful, tiered approach, a cognitive behavior expert can eventually help people to stay in control even when faced with a trigger in life.

Social isolation has never been as prevalent as it is today. Staying at home is a joy for many, but it might not be the best for your mental health. We take a look at if isolation can cause social anxiety.

At Cognitive Behavior Associates, we provide services for the best cognitive behavioral therapy Los Angeles has to offer. Our goal is to help every patient grow and develop, especially during trying times.

Can Isolation Cause Social Anxiety?

We are quickly approaching a year of recommended isolation and social distancing. The economic costs splatter the news. But few people are taking the time to fully recognize the mental strain that we are all under. The separation from parents, siblings, and close friends has been hard. The general need to remove ourselves from practically all forms of social interaction may be even harder. We are a highly social species. And we have been asked to give up one of the core aspects of human life.

We recognize the necessity of isolation. And we care for the health of our fellow human beings. But there is no avoiding that it has come at a cost.

The Isolated Mind

Long before the average person had even considered the possibility of a pandemic, psychologists were already studying what isolation does to human beings. Alarmed by what appeared to be increasing rates of loneliness in American adults, researchers began to study the effects. One 2015 study found that people who felt isolated were more likely to smoke often and drink heavily. And this trend fits with current data coming from Americans in isolation this year.

Studies that pre-date the pandemic found that isolation often led to the development of depression and the associated sleep disorders. But what about social anxiety? In many ways, it makes sense that you may feel social anxiety as a result of isolation and depression. At its root, social anxiety thrives when we feel unsure of ourselves in a social setting. If we’re out of practice, it’s no wonder that anxiety sky-rockets.

Understanding Social Anxiety

Most people experience some level of social anxiety during their lifetime. It’s that nagging feeling you get in a room where you feel like others are judging you. Or it is that sense like you don’t quite fit in. It’s an uncomfortable ache. And in severe cases it can seriously inhibit a person’s ability to socialize.

There is still a lot of research to be done before we can definitively say what the effects of the pandemic are, but we have a start. Gyms have closed down. Grocery stores barely open. And barbers are on hold, so many of us don’t look our best at the moment. On top of that, there seems a growing push to act “more” productive despite the disruption of our lives. Just by talking to family and friends, we can see the change. More and more people are unwilling to go out when they can and shying away from others out of fear that they will be judged.

What is left is a population of people suffering from isolation and social anxiety, which can feel like an impossible situation. If this describes you or someone close to you, you deserve to know that it is okay to ask for help.

Finding the Help You Need

At Cognitive Behavior Associates, we use cognitive behavior therapy to treat a range of psychological disorders, including depression and social anxiety. We offer the best social anxiety treatment Los Angeles has around. It works by making the patient an integral part of their own recovery by helping them to recognize the stimuli that trigger the negative emotions they are experiencing. From there, the staff can work with you to see the correlation between the stimuli, your negative emotions, and what they are actually doing to you. This helps many patients to recognize the ways that they can replace negative thoughts with positive ones to improve their mental health overall.

However, the doctors at CBA also recognize that this is sometimes easier said than done. To help you while you’re working on reducing the frequency of negative thoughts, they will also help you to learn behavioral tricks to control or eliminate harmful behaviors. Even if you aren’t comfortable leaving your home due to being high risk, you can always arrange for a telepsychotherapy session to get started.

Addiction recovery can be a challenging time. In fact, it rarely is easy. But many factors go into determining how difficult or doable it is. What role does family play in addiction recovery? Is it positive? Or negative? Or, like most things, a little bit of both?

In regard to medicine, our understanding of addiction has changed dramatically over the past century. Unfortunately, developments in science are not always immediately applied by society at large. Popular discussions focused on mental health, sobriety, and substance abuse continue to rely on outdated tropes that shape these serious health concerns into personal, moral flaws. This can make recovery even more difficult. The affected person has to try to overcome their addiction under the added strain of public condemnation.

Addiction and Family

The role of family in addiction recovery is certainly not negligible. Regardless of how you choose to define your family, having an addict among you comes with a unique set of challenges. You have to carefully balance their emotional needs. At the same time, you must hold them accountable for behavior patterns that develop out of their illness. It’s a tightrope that most families cannot maintain without falling into a collective set of dysfunctional roles. Without professional help, you will likely find that each member of your family begins to fill one aspect of the addict’s needs. You may be the enforcer, the enabler, the family clown, the over-achiever, or any other number of fixed roles in their life, but none of these represent a healthy response.

Our interpersonal relationships are far too complex for us to reduce them down to one set of emotions. Even if you think you are doing what is necessary to keep your family together, you are likely causing further damage to your family dynamic. The honest truth is that if one member of your family is an addict, then you are all going to need professional therapy. It is the best way to protect the bonds that hold you together during their recovery period.

Moving Forward Together

To give your family the best chance of recovery, it is important that you do what you can to maintain a supportive environment. Specifically, one that doesn’t condone the addict’s negative behavior. Every family’s experience with addiction is different. So, you will want to work through recovery with the help of a mental health professional. They can help you to stop harmful patterns before they start. They can also help you by finding positive behaviors that will provide you and the rest of your family the support they need as you go through this together. At Cognitive Behavior Associates, we provide the best addiction recovery treatment Beverly Hills has available. Call us today to learn more and start your path to recovery.

Using Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Family therapy can make a great difference. It can provide stability and healthy responses as your family member goes through the recovery process. However, this probably won’t be enough on its own to get your loved one to a point where they have the opportunity to heal. In addition to family therapy and regular medical attention, people suffering from addiction often benefit from cognitive behavior therapy.

Cognitive behavior therapy is designed to help addicts recognize what environmental and emotional triggers drive their addiction. It may be certain friends, stress, or a specific environment. Figuring out what experiences are most likely to initiate their cravings means that the addict can move forward with avoidance or coping.

The experts at Cognitive Behavior Associates balance positively engaging activities with exposure to triggers. And they work on dealing with the negative emotions associated with them. Based on your loved one’s readiness, the therapeutic team will help them to gauge their ability to deal with triggers in the real world, teaching avoidance if necessary.

In allowing your family member to understand what triggers them, the staff at Cognitive Behavior Associates can help them take a level of control over their addiction. It is still not an easy process, and full recovery will require a life-long commitment. However, family counseling, medical treatment, and CBA can give your loved one an opportunity for a better life. Contact us today to learn more about the best option for cognitive behavioral therapy Los Angeles has.

Long before the pandemic, medical professionals had already realized a disturbing trend in mental health cases. In many communities across this nation, Americans are working longer hours. And increasing wages are failing to keep up with more rapidly increasing inflation. The internet allows us to build global communities, but many are still alone when they go to sleep at night. Self-care during quarantine is about more than reacting to COVID-19, it is about learning healthy practices.

These are just a few factors that scientists believe may be correlated to perceived increases in cases of depression, anxiety, and other environmentally-driven mental health disorders. A lot of research still needs to be done. Still, there is a general consensus that the isolation of the pandemic will aggravate existing mental health disorders and increase cases across the country. As a result, even if you are not already struggling with your mental health, it is absolutely imperative that you take the appropriate steps to protect it.

According to the experts at the Center for Disease Control, self-care can be as simple as taking care of your physical needs and maintaining the emotional connections that help you thrive. By setting aside time to get outside or talk to your best friend over the phone, you can do a lot to maintain a sense of comfort and normalcy despite the current situation. Here are just a few ways you can escape from the stress of the pandemic and take care of your mental health.

Try Cooking Something New

Giving your body the nutrients it needs is vital to keeping yourself feeling good. Unfortunately, cooking the same old meals over and over again takes the fun out of it. To mix things up, take an hour of your time to explore popular food blogs and print out the recipes that sound the most delicious and contain plenty of vegetables. You can do this with dessert too, if you prefer baking. A great fruit tart, beautiful carrot cake, or even chocolate zucchini bread will satiate your sweet tooth and creativity while delivering much-needed nutrients.

Find a Local Trail

Our parks, beaches, and normal outdoor hangouts are a little too populated for anyone concerned about COVID. To get yourself out and about, you’ll need to strap on some good shoes and find a local trail. You will definitely see people, but the density is noticeably less, allowing you to keep your distance and your mask while enjoying the great outdoors.

Schedule Calls with Family and Friends

It’s natural to want to withdraw a little when you are feeling anxious, but you will need as much support as you can get to make it through quarantine. Set a time once a week or so to check in with family and friends. It’s good for your mental health, and it will allow you to reach the people who may be having an even harder time dealing with the pandemic.

Do Some Indoor Exercise

When your gym is closed and the sidewalks are too crowded, it can be difficult to stay fit, but maintaining a healthy BMI is good for your overall health, not just your vanity. To stay active, try following along with a yoga video or game. You can also do bodyweight exercises, such as squats, push-ups, and planks for a little extra burn.

Ask for Help When You Need It

Don’t wait for a crisis. If you feel that you are struggling with your mental health, you need to talk to an expert. Cognitive Behavior Associates offers telepsychotherapy, which means you can speak with an expert from the comfort of your own home and start the journey towards better mental health. For caring, quality cognitive behavioral therapy in Los Angeles, call CBA today.

Please note that all of these suggestions are preventative. If you are in crisis or considering hurting yourself, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The operator will be able to connect you with the resources you need to feel like yourself again. Self-care during quarantine is vital. Don’t neglect your own well-being!

Nearly half of the United States’ population will experience a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. Despite the stigma, struggling with a mental illness is a normal part of existence, especially for urban populations where the percentage of cases is substantially higher. Perceptions of mental illness have drastically changed, allowing people to access real help more easily than ever before. Unfortunately, that does not mean that all negative associations have disappeared. On average, only 41% of people dealing with a mental illness receive professional aid in a given year. The result is that 59% of people are trying to control a serious health issue alone. But why do people avoid mental health treatment?

According to data published in Psychology Today, the reasons behind so many patients avoiding professional treatment are complex and often deeply personal. However, this information does emphasize three primary categories of reasoning that prevent many individuals from seeking treatment for mental illness.


In the initial study, 35.3% of all participants cited a concern that they might be perceived differently if anyone knew about their mental illness. Many were concerned about confidentiality and whether their neighbors or employer might find out that they were undergoing treatment.

These anxieties are common among people with mental illnesses. Anxiety itself is a common symptom. However, their concerns don’t exist in a vacuum. For patients with a wide range of mental health struggles, their anxieties lock onto pre-existing stigmas that do exist in our society.

Fortunately, HIPPA covers treatment for a mental health illness. This means your personal data can only be used for necessary operations. In reality, you have complete control over who knows you are seeking treatment.


Given the nature of our current healthcare system, it is not surprising that 65.9% of participants were concerned about cost. Many worried that their health insurance might not cover care. Or that the cost of treatment may be too high even with insurance. The study emphasizes that cost concerns also seemed driven by perception rather than an attempt to receive treatment.

Patients concerned about the cost of receiving professional help should speak with their primary care physician. Also, we advise having a consultation with a mental health specialist to determine available solutions. These parties can typically help you to navigate the insurance system to receive as much aid as possible, making treatment a workable solution for you. However, Cognitive Behavior Associates has compiled a useful list of resources for therapy to help people take the first step towards a healthier tomorrow. We hope this list benefits patients who may not be ready to open up to their doctor or need help locating services near them,


The last category may seem somewhat generic, but 58.9% of respondents suggested a reason they didn’t seek help was due to misunderstanding the nature of their illness. Many initially thought they wouldn’t need help. Or they worried they might be forced to take medications against their will. Others assumed that they would be able to fix it themselves.

The heart of the issue is that we, as a society, still fail to equate a mental health illness with a physical illness. We know that we can’t fix a broken leg or a malfunctioning heart valve. Yet we believe that those dealing with depression, anxiety, and other serious mental health issues can fix it by putting their minds to it. It is not that simple.

Finding Help When You Need It

Despite all of these misgivings, the truth is that mental illness is like any other serious health issue. You can’t solve it on your own. And a professional is best suited to helping you navigate your way through your illness. For a positive, scientifically-backed approach to your mental health treatment, contact Cognitive Behavior Associates to schedule an initial consultation.We are top providers of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Los Angeles and have served countless patients. We offer treatments for disorders ranging from social anxiety to bipolar disorder. We look forward toward helping you move toward a future of mental health. Don’t let the reasons people avoid mental health treatment keep you away from a clearer sense of self and purpose.

Anxiety disorders represent the most common mental illnesses present in the United States today. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, roughly 40 million adults over the age of 18 are affected every year. That is 18% of the national population! As many as 25% of American adults having an anxiety disorder at some point during their lifetime. The physical symptoms of anxiety disorders can become rapidly apparent.

Predictably, anxiety disorders have not been spared from the stigmatization of mental health. Rather than being treated as inherently dangerous or uncontrollable, people with anxiety disorders regularly face apathy and even scorn, as the remaining majority of the population refuse to validate the condition. The combination of social perceptions and the lack of access to affordable medical care for many patients with mental health disorders has resulted in less than 37% of people with anxiety disorders receiving treatment for their condition.

Mental Health and the Body

Indeed, an anxiety disorder is primarily a mental health issue. But this classification can be misleading. The Australian National Survey of Mental Health Literacy and Stigma found that the mental nature of anxiety disorders deeply affected popular perceptions. Most of those surveyed refused to believe that it was a real medical condition. Indeed, they posited that anxiety disorders were reflective of “personal weakness.”

In reality, any person who has experienced one of these disorders can tell you that it isn’t as simple as “snap[ping] out of it.” The brain and body are completely intertwined. A person suffering from an anxiety disorder isn’t merely dealing with negative thoughts and fears. They are battling an entire host of physical symptoms of anxiety disorders that further complicate the existing situation.

It is important to note that an entire range of anxiety orders exist, and some have very particular physical tells. The purpose of this article is not to diagnose a specific anxiety disorder but to help you recognize the general physical symptoms. If you or someone close to you is consistently demonstrating behaviors or symptoms consistent with an anxiety disorder, your next move is to seek/encourage professional diagnosis and treatment. Contact Cognitive Behavior Associates for professional help and a personalized treatment plan.

Recognizing the Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

When it comes to anxiety, there is a long list of possible symptoms. Some of these are emotional, but even they are often expressed in physiological terms.

Here are the ten most common physical symptoms to pay attention to if you suspect that you or someone close to you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. These include:

  • Chronic symptoms, which generally affect the person daily
  • Triggered responses, which usually occur during an attack

Chronic Symptoms:

  • Insomnia or Intermittent Sleep: Difficulty sleeping is a common symptom of an anxiety disorder. But not all people experience conventional insomnia. Some will wake up throughout the night, preventing adequate rest.
  • Difficulty Concentrating: In most cases, the mind seems to revert to the source of the anxiety. This prevents long periods of concentration on other subjects.
  • Regularly Avoiding Triggers: This is purposefully vague, as triggers can vary widely based on the diagnosis and source of anxiety. Pay attention to those who regularly seem to want to avoid crowds, loud atmospheres, or other specific stimuli. If they become agitated, try having a more open conversation about how those situations make them feel and make your support clear.

Triggered Responses:

  • Uncontrollable Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Elevated Heart Rate
  • Hyperventilation
  • Nausea
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Fainting

For the most part, when a person has a triggered response, you will notice several of these symptoms simultaneously. Please refer to our guide on how to help someone who is having a panic attack to learn more about what you can do to help without causing additional harm. Always be careful and understanding. An anxiety disorder can make someone feel isolated. By providing compassionate help, you can make a difference.

Although they aren’t necessarily common, panic disorders affect between 2 and 3% of all American adults. In fact, 4.7% of American adults will experience a panic attack during their lifetime. These statistics are markedly higher for adults in their late teens to early twenties and doubled for women. For friends and family, it is important to know how to help someone having a panic attack.

Due to the concentration of cases in these demographics, the reality is that you probably know someone who has or currently does suffer from a panic disorder. In order to do what you can for them in the event of an attack, you must be able to recognize a panic attack and respond effectively.

What to Look For

The symptoms of a panic attack can vary from person to person. In some minor cases, they are almost indiscernible if you don’t know what to look for because the most common symptoms are mainly internal. Mental Health First Aid warns that panic attacks can manifest in several ways. The following list comprises the most common symptoms.

  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Numbness
  • Dizziness
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Chest Pain
  • Abdominal Distress
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Fear of “going crazy” or dying
  • Chills and Hot Flashes
  • Feeling Choked
  • Feeling Faint
  • Feeling that you are detached from reality

Given the nature of these symptoms, a bystander is only likely to notice general physical and emotional distress. You may note that they are breathing heavily or look visibly confused. Unfortunately, these symptoms could be associated with a long list of other medical conditions.
Therefore, your first priority is to assess the situation to establish what the person is going through.

Assessing the Situation

Differentiating a panic attack from a medical situation that requires emergency help can be difficult, so your ability to assess the situation will rely on your ability to communicate clearly and concisely. A person in the throes of a panic attack will only be able to process small amounts of information at a time. All of their internal systems are in over-drive, so you will need to be patient.

Ask and Listen

Start by asking short, basic questions.

  • “Has this happened before?” Wait for a response. Try a different question if you get no answer.
  • “Do you want an ambulance?”
  • “Have you been feeling stressed?”

Your goal is to figure out if they know what is happening to them and if they require emergency help. Regardless of whether you end up calling 911, you will need to manage the situation until the attack has passed or the ambulance arrives.

Managing the Attack

Your last question should always be, “What might help you?” If they need to be moved away from a crowd or sat down, offer aid. Once they’re settled, stop asking questions. Instead, provide gentle assurance. Stay calm, talk slowly, and help them to focus on their breathing by encouraging them to count to ten with you.

On average, the longest attacks can last between 20 and 30 minutes, but most panic attacks will only last 5 to 10 minutes. During this time, stay with them to ensure continuity and support while they recover.

After the Attack

Once the attack has passed, it is important to show that you genuinely care for their well-being. See if they need you to call someone to pick them up, and encourage them to reach out to a medical professional regarding their attacks.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be used to teach patients how to recognize their triggers and manage their symptoms. In ten weekly sessions, the “Panic No More” program at Cognitive Behavior Associates will help patients to restructure their reactions to common anxiety behaviors and address avoidance behaviors.