Before delving into why group therapy can help with your anxiety, it’s important to understand the different types of anxiety to determine which you may be struggling with. The following six are the most common types of anxiety disorders:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- What most people generally think of when they hear the term “anxiety”
- Constant and chronic worry about things without reasons to be worried about them
- Generally a lower level of anxiety but still disrupts daily lifestyle
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Exactly as it’s named: obsessive and compulsive thoughts that the person does not have control over
- Feeling the need to perform repetitive rituals that they think will lessen their anxiety
- Feelings of intense fear and panic
- Often experiencing panic attacks where they experience difficulty breathing, chest pains, and irregular heartbeat
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety that stems from a specific traumatizing event
- Often associated with veterans coming back from war
- Can also be the result of violence, emotional trauma, car accidents, or a plethora of other traumatizing experiences
- More than just being “shy”
- Overwhelming feelings of anxiety when in social situations
- Self-conscious about little things – walking by a group of people, eating with friends, going to a wedding
- Very limiting to a person’s lifestyle
- Claustrophobia (fear of closed spaces), acrophobia (fear of heights), and mysophobia (fear of germs) are a few of the most well-known phobias
- Some people think people with these fears are “being dramatic” or “ridiculous” when in reality they are suffering from very serious disorders
Isolation and Anxiety:
Like many mental diseases, anxiety can feel incredibly isolating. Most of the time friends, family members and peers who don’t struggle with anxiety don’t understand it. And nothing is more frustrating than getting a demeaning response when you open up about your anxiety. It can even be frustrating when people without anxiety try to relate: “I get stressed easily too!” Anxiety is much more than experiencing normal life stressors or getting nervous before a big event. Anxiety is a very real mental disorder that can be debilitating and interferes with your daily life.
Once you’ve acknowledged that you do in fact struggle with anxiety, it’s important to take the right steps in combatting it. My preferred method of therapy is CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). It’s a type of psychotherapy (aka thought therapy) that proves that our thoughts, behaviors, and feelings are all linked. It states that we cannot change our behavior until we change our thoughts. And we cannot change our thoughts until we observe them to distinguish why we’re experiencing them. CBT is often practiced in group therapy, which is highly beneficial to those who are diagnosed with anxiety.
The following is a list of benefits that group therapy provides for people with anxiety disorders:
Offers social support
- It’s a frequent reminder that you are not alone.
- You get to share your thoughts and feelings with people who understand what you are going through.
- If you are new to the therapy process, you can look for help from people who started where you once were.
- If you are further along in your treatment process, you can provide support and advice to people who are struggling.
Share your achievements
- If you share a big achievement with a friend or family member, their response may be something along the lines of “hey, good for you!” without really understanding why your achievement is so important.
- When you share a big achievement with a group of people with the same struggles, they will actually understand the reality of how big your accomplishment is.
- For those who struggle with social anxiety, participating in a group is a good way to practice overcoming social anxiety.
Group therapy is one of the most effective ways of treating those who struggle with anxiety. While the above list provides a few benefits, you will reap much more from participating in the group therapy process.