Diagnosing and Treating Anxiety Disorders

Feeling a certain degree of anxiety in particular situations is normal. For example, most of us feel anxious prior to a job interview, a test, or a public speaking engagement. In fact, some anxiety can be a beneficial; it can motivate us to study harder for a test or prepare for an interview. On the other hand, excessive anxiety can be crippling, and the resulting stress can threaten one’s overall health.

If you are experiencing intense or chronic anxiety that is preventing you from achieving your full potential, establishing and maintaining healthy relationships, or fully enjoying your life, we at Princeton Concierge Psychiatry encourage you to get help. As experts in treating anxiety in the New Jersey area, we are confident that we can help alleviate anxiety for you or your loved one, regardless of its source.

Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

An anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive or repeated bouts of anxiety or worry that do not go away and may worsen over time. There are several types of anxiety disorders, including the following:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): This condition is characterized by excessive anxiety or worry related to normal life circumstances and occurring most days for at least six months. Symptoms include:
    • Restlessness
    • Fatigue
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Irritability
    • Muscle tension
    • Poor sleep
  • Social anxiety disorder: This condition is characterized by fear or nervousness in social settings. People with social anxiety disorder are often afraid of being judged by others, and they are easily embarrassed, which often leads them to avoid social interactions.
  • Separation anxiety disorder: People who live with separation anxiety are afraid of being separated from others they feel closely attached to, such as a parent or a partner. They often worry that some harm will come to themselves or their loved ones if they are separated from one another for any amount of time.
  • Panic disorder: People who experience panic disorder often have recurring panic attacks characterized by
    • Heart palpitations
    • Sweating
    • Trembling or shaking
    • Shortness of breath
    • Flushing
    • Hives
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a condition triggered by a terrifying event from the past (experiencing it or witnessing it). Symptoms include
    • Flashbacks
    • Nightmares
    • Severe anxiety
    • Intrusive memories (uncontrollable thoughts about the event)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): OCD is a chronic condition in which a person has uncontrollable, recurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions):
    • Obsessions may include fear of germs; unwanted or taboo thoughts about sex, religion, or physical harm; aggressive thoughts toward self or others; or the need to have things symmetrical or in a perfect arrangement.
    • Compulsions may include excessive cleaning or handwashing, ordering or arranging things in a precise manner, repeatedly checking on things (such as whether the door is locked or the lights are off), or compulsive counting.
  • Phobias: A phobia is an intense and often irrational fear of certain objects or situations such as
    • Heights
    • Flying
    • Public speaking
    • Certain animals such as dogs or snakes
    • Leaving one’s home (agoraphobia)


Depending on the nature of the anxiety and any underlying causes, a variety of treatment options are available alone or in combination:

  • Medication: Various medications can be helpful in alleviating anxiety symptoms while other long-term interventions take effect. Medications include:
    • Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines and buspirone (BuSpar)
    • Antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft)
    • Beta blockers, which are commonly used to control high blood pressure but may also be helpful in treating anxiety
  • Psychotherapy: Certain psychotherapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, and mindfulness training may help to adjust the thought processes that give rise to anxiety.
  • Stress-management techniques: Various stress-management techniques have shown promise in relieving anxiety including yoga, tai chi, controlled breathing, and guided imagery.
  • Diet/lifestyle changes: Certain diet and lifestyle choices may contribute to or worsen anxiety such as excessive caffeine or nicotine consumption, alcohol or drug use, lack of exercise, and stressful work environment or relationships. Adjustments to diet and lifestyle can reduce the impact of these factors.
  • Support groups: Discussing your situation with others and hearing about their struggles with anxiety may help to alleviate your own anxiety and help you discover other resources that can help.

Keep in mind that your journey to find relief for your anxiety is unique. You may prefer or respond to certain anxiety treatments better than others. At Princeton Concierge Psychiatry, we provide expert guidance to lead you to successful treatment. We will observe and listen closely and offer treatment options that are likely to work best for you. We will then monitor your progress and make any adjustments necessary until you are feeling your very best.