Therapist

Stress and anxiety management institute

The Anxiety & Stress Management Institute is an integrative facility focused on mental health and well-being. Our staff is comprised of highly trained and fully licensed counselors and psychologists offering individual, couples, marriage, family, and group counseling services to all ages in the Atlanta community. We utilize well-researched, state of the art treatment approaches, and our therapists all have additional training or certification in particular specialty areas to deliver the best care possible. We believe that treating the whole person is the most effective way to produce lasting change. Therefore, we strive to provide a comprehensive selection of professional services all in one location, including but not limited to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), DBT therapy, hypnotherapy, play therapy, exposure therapy, smoking cessation therapy, and psychological testing. We also provide life coaching, career counseling, nutritional counseling, and a number of other holistic and health related services. We also offer corporate seminars and trainings tailored for large and small businesses across Atlanta as well as a vast array of continuing education workshops for mental health professionals. As a Licensed Professional Counselors Association Of Georgia (LPCAGA) approved sponsor for continuing education workshops, we are able to provide core or ethics continuing education credits (CEs) to psychologists, professional counselors, social workers, and marriage and family therapists practicing throughout the southeastern United States. The Anxiety & Stress Management Institute is located on the border of Atlanta and Marietta near the intersection of I-75 and I-285 in Cobb County. Our facility was designed very intentionally with soft lighting, soothing music, and trickling fountains. We want people to feel taken care of from the moment they walk through our door. If you are interested in making an appointment or learning more about the behavioral health services we offer, please contact our Intake Department at

I’m So Stressed Out! Fact Sheet

Feeling overwhelmed? Read this fact sheet to learn whether it’s stress or anxiety, and what you can do to cope.

Is it stress or anxiety?

Life can be stressful—you may feel stressed about performance at school, traumatic events (such as a pandemic, a natural disaster, or an act of violence), or a life change. Everyone feels stress from time to time.

What is stress? Stress is the physical or mental response to an external cause, such as having a lot of homework or having an illness. A stressor may be a one-time or short-term occurrence, or it can happen repeatedly over a long time.

What is anxiety? Anxiety is your body’s reaction to stress and can occur even if there is no current threat.

If that anxiety doesn’t go away and begins to interfere with your life, it could affect your health. You could experience problems with sleeping, or with your immune, digestive, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems. You also may be at higher risk for developing a mental illness such as an anxiety disorder or depression. Read more about anxiety disorders.

So, how do you know when to seek help?

Stress vs. Anxiety

Stress Both Stress and Anxiety Anxiety

  • Generally is a response to an external cause, such as taking a big test or arguing with a friend.
  • Goes away once the situation is resolved.
  • Can be positive or negative. For example, it may inspire you to meet a deadline, or it may cause you to lose sleep.

Both stress and anxiety can affect your mind and body. You may experience symptoms such as:

  • Excessive worry
  • Uneasiness
  • Tension
  • Headaches or body pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of sleep
  • Generally is internal, meaning it’s your reaction to stress.
  • Usually involves a persistent feeling of apprehension or dread that doesn’t go away, and that interferes with how you live your life.
  • Is constant, even if there is no immediate threat.

It’s important to manage your stress.

Everyone experiences stress, and sometimes that stress can feel overwhelming. You may be at risk for an anxiety disorder if it feels like you can’t manage the stress and if the symptoms of your stress:

  • Interfere with your everyday life.
  • Cause you to avoid doing things.
  • Seem to be always present.

Coping With Stress and Anxiety

Learning what causes or triggers your stress and what coping techniques work for you can help reduce your anxiety and improve your daily life. It may take trial and error to discover what works best for you. Here are some activities you can try when you start to feel overwhelmed:

  • Keep a journal.
  • Download an app that provides relaxation exercises (such as deep breathing or visualization) or tips for practicing mindfulness, which is a psychological process of actively paying attention to the present moment.
  • Exercise, and make sure you are eating healthy, regular meals.
  • Stick to a sleep routine, and make sure you are getting enough sleep.
  • Avoid drinking excess caffeine such as soft drinks or coffee.
  • Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts.
  • Reach out to your friends or family members who help you cope in a positive way.

Recognize When You Need More Help

If you are struggling to cope, or the symptoms of your stress or anxiety won’t go away, it may be time to talk to a professional. Psychotherapy (also called talk therapy) and medication are the two main treatments for anxiety, and many people benefit from a combination of the two.

If you are in immediate distress or are thinking about hurting yourself, call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org.

If you or someone you know has a mental illness, is struggling emotionally, or has concerns about their mental health, there are ways to get help. Read more about getting help.

More Resources

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
National Institutes of Health
NIH Publication No. 20-MH-8125

Anxiety disorders are generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. There are many ways to treat anxiety, and you should work with a health care provider to choose the best treatment for you.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy or “talk therapy” can help people with anxiety disorders. To be effective, psychotherapy must be directed at your specific anxieties and tailored to your needs.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an example of one type of psychotherapy that can help people with anxiety disorders. It teaches people different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations to help you feel less anxious and fearful. CBT has been well studied and is the gold standard for psychotherapy.

Exposure therapy is a CBT method that is used to treat anxiety disorders. Exposure therapy focuses on confronting the fears underlying an anxiety disorder to help people engage in activities they have been avoiding. Exposure therapy is sometimes used along with relaxation exercises.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Another treatment option for some anxiety disorders is acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). ACT takes a different approach than CBT to negative thoughts. It uses strategies such as mindfulness and goal setting to reduce discomfort and anxiety. Compared to CBT, ACT is a newer form of psychotherapy treatment, so less data are available on its effectiveness.

Medication

Medication does not cure anxiety disorders but can help relieve symptoms. Health care providers, such as a psychiatrist or primary care provider, can prescribe medication for anxiety. Some states also allow psychologists who have received specialized training to prescribe psychiatric medications. The most common classes of medications used to combat anxiety disorders are antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications (such as benzodiazepines), and beta-blockers.

Antidepressants

Antidepressants are used to treat depression, but they can also be helpful for treating anxiety disorders. They may help improve the way your brain uses certain chemicals that control mood or stress. You may need to try several different antidepressant medicines before finding the one that improves your symptoms and has manageable side effects.

Antidepressants can take several weeks to start working so it’s important to give the medication a chance before reaching a conclusion about its effectiveness. If you begin taking antidepressants, do not stop taking them without the help of a health care provider. Your provider can help you slowly and safely decrease your dose. Stopping them abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms.

In some cases, children, teenagers, and adults younger than 25 may experience increased suicidal thoughts or behavior when taking antidepressant medications, especially in the first few weeks after starting or when the dose is changed. Because of this, people of all ages taking antidepressants should be watched closely, especially during the first few weeks of treatment.

Anti-anxiety Medications

Anti-anxiety medications can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks, or extreme fear and worry. The most common anti-anxiety medications are called benzodiazepines. Although benzodiazepines are sometimes used as first-line treatments for generalized anxiety disorder, they have both benefits and drawbacks.

Benzodiazepines are effective in relieving anxiety and take effect more quickly than antidepressant medications. However, some people build up a tolerance to these medications and need higher and higher doses to get the same effect. Some people even become dependent on them.

To avoid these problems, health care providers usually prescribe benzodiazepines for short periods of time.

If people suddenly stop taking benzodiazepines, they may have withdrawal symptoms, or their anxiety may return. Therefore, benzodiazepines should be tapered off slowly. Your provider can help you slowly and safely decrease your dose.

Beta-blockers

Although beta-blockers are most often used to treat high blood pressure, they can help relieve the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heartbeat, shaking, trembling, and blushing. These medications can help people keep physical symptoms under control when taken for short periods. They can also be used “as needed” to reduce acute anxiety, including to prevent some predictable forms of performance anxieties.

Choosing the Right Medication

Some types of drugs may work better for specific types of anxiety disorders, so people should work closely with a health care provider to identify which medication is best for them. Certain substances such as caffeine, some over-the-counter cold medicines, illicit drugs, and herbal supplements may aggravate the symptoms of anxiety disorders or interact with prescribed medication. People should talk with a health care provider, so they can learn which substances are safe and which to avoid.

Choosing the right medication, medication dose, and treatment plan should be done under an expert’s care and should be based on a person’s needs and their medical situation. Your and your provider may try several medicines before finding the right one.

Support Groups

Some people with anxiety disorders might benefit from joining a self-help or support group and sharing their problems and achievements with others. Support groups are available both in person and online. However, any advice you receive from a support group member should be used cautiously and does not replace treatment recommendations from a health care provider.

Stress Management Techniques

Stress management techniques, such as exercise, mindfulness, and meditation, also can reduce anxiety symptoms and enhance the effects of psychotherapy. You can learn more about how these techniques benefit your treatment by talking with a health care provider.

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