What is anxiety?
We all get anxious sometimes. People with anxiety disorders have intensive, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. There are many types of anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), and specific phobias. Globally, anxiety disorders are the most common of all mental disorders, affecting 1 in 6 adults (World Health Organization, 2019). In the UAE anxiety disorders affect 1 in 5 people (20% of the population). Amongst these, Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the most common anxiety disorder in adults.
Some common symptoms of anxiety include:
Feeling nervous, restless, or tense
Having difficulty controlling worry
Physical symptoms, such as increased heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, and trembling
Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
Many people experience these anxiety symptoms without being anxious. You might be anxious if these symptoms persist for two or more weeks, and are not caused by a clear trigger such as death of a loved one, substance use, or health issues.
Get in touch to find out how we can help you overcome your anxiety. Contact us however you feel most comfortable, for example Whatsapp message us, or feel free to call us on +971 56 895 2347. You can also email or simply send us a query via our online form. Instagram message, Facebook chat… whatever works best for you!
Our goal is to make you comfortable.
What does Anxiety Look Like?
What can I do right now to help with my anxiety?
Are there different types of anxiety?
There are several types of anxiety, and their intensity can range from mild to severe. The following is a basic guide to some of the different forms of anxiety. For more information, we recommend visiting the Mayo Clinic website.
1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
People who are struggling with generalized anxiety disorder experience persistent and excessive worry about everyday life events. For example, someone with generalized anxiety disorder will spend a lot of time worrying about things like their school or work life, family relationships, friendships, physical health, and finances. Often, they will expect the worst-case scenario and ruminate over these negative thoughts. Typically, this form of anxiety is described as either mild, moderate, or severe. We offer several generalized anxiety treatment options at Thrive, all of which are evidence-based and effective. Please see below for more information and click here to read what some of our past clients have said about working with us. GAD is the most common anxiety disorder.
2. Panic disorder.
People with panic disorder experience very sudden and strong feelings of anxiety, fear, or terror. These feelings tend to peak within a few minutes and are known as panic attacks. A panic attack is usually marked by a number of physical symptoms including accelerated heart rate (heart palpitations), sweating, shortness of breath, chest pain, and nausea. Often, people who experience panic attacks worry about experiencing them again and will go out of their way to avoid situations/places in which they’ve previously occurred. Struggling with panic attacks? Check out our blog on how to stop them in their tracks.
3. Social Anxiety Disorder.
People who are struggling with social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia) experience high levels of anxiety and fear when there is a chance that they will be scrutinized by others. This can include interacting with others (e.g., meeting new people), being observed by others (e.g., eating or drinking in front of people), and performing in front of others (e.g., giving a presentation or a speech). People with social anxiety disorder will go out of their way to avoid these situations and the related self-consciousness and embarrassment.
4. Illness Anxiety Disorder.
Commonly known as health anxiety, this disorder is actually characterized as a Somatic Symptom and Related Disorder. People with illness anxiety disorder experience persistent worry about their physical health status and become preoccupied with either having or acquiring a serious illness. This can also lead to reassurance (e.g., excessive Googling or medical check-ups) and physical checking (e.g., constantly checking their body for signs of an illness), all of which reinforce the preoccupation with the physical health status. You can read more about what health anxiety is and how it works on our blog.
5. Separation Anxiety Disorder.
People with separation anxiety disorder experience significant fear or anxiety concerning separation from an attachment figure, such as a parent or romantic partner. For example, someone with separation anxiety disorder will struggle with the thought of being away from the attachment figure. Sometimes, this means that they will be reluctant to or refuse to be away from them. Other times, it can mean that they have repeated nightmares about separation and complain about physical symptoms either when the separation occurs or just by thinking about it.
6. Specific Phobias.
People with specific phobias experience fear or anxiety about a particular object or situation. As a result, people will go out of their way to avoid coming into contact with the phobic object/situation (i.e., the stimulus that they have a phobia towards). Phobias can lead to panic attacks for some people. Common phobias include arachnophobia (excessive fear of spiders), ophidiophobia (excessive fear of snakes), acrophobia (excessive fear of heights), aerophobia (excessive fear of flying), cynophobia (excessive fear of dogs), astraphobia (excessive fear of thunder and lightning), trypanophobia (excessive fear of injections), social phobia (excessive fear of social situations), agoraphobia (excessive fear of being alone in a place or situation from which it may be difficult to escape), and mysophobia (excessive fear of germs and dirt).
Other types of anxiety disorders not covered here include:
Anxiety disorder due to another medical condition
Other specified anxiety disorder
Unspecified anxiety disorder
What causes anxiety?
Anxiety is widespread. Similar to depression, women experience it almost twice as much as men; although men are less likely to reach out for help and usually when they do it’s more severe.
There are many factors that are linked to anxiety. Some of the contributors are:
1. Biological factors.
Research shows that some people are more likely to experience anxiety based on their biological profile. Anxiety is linked to certain genes, temperaments, brain activity, and neurotransmitters.
We can learn anxiety in multiple ways. One way is through observational learning. This means that we can develop a fear by seeing someone close to us avoid or react to a fear-producing object. For example, seeing your caregiver have very strong fear reactions to spiders in childhood could prompt you to develop arachnophobia.
Another way we can learn anxiety is through conditioning. One type of conditioning is classical conditioning, which means that we develop an association between two things over time. A classic example is 9-month-old Little Albert, who was conditioned to associate a white mouse with a very distressing sound. Overtime, Little Albert developed a fear of white mice and experienced a lot of distress when he would see one. This response was overgeneralized to other white and fluffy objects, including socks, bunny rabbits, and cotton balls.
Operant conditioning occurs when consequences shape our behavior. In terms of anxiety, we often make the decision to leave an anxiety-provoking situation. This usually results in a reduction of the anxiety which then reinforces our behavior in the future. For example, imagine that you had a panic attack in a supermarket and now experience anxiety every time you have to go to a supermarket. Many people will then avoid going to the supermarket, which reduces their anxiety in the short-run but maintains their anxiety in the long-run.
3. Psychological factors
Anxiety can also be triggered by our experiences. Research shows that people who were abused, experience significant life stress, and/or had overprotective parents are at a heightened risk for developing certain anxiety disorders.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Just remember - the most important thing is to be aware of, and recognize, the symptoms of anxiety and seek professional, licensed support using evidence-based effective treatments.
How is anxiety treated at Thrive?
We offer several different treatment options at Thrive.
1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a widely used type of talk therapy (psychotherapy), common for mental health. CBT is an evidence-based treatment, which means that it has been shown to be effective through clinical trials. This CBT anxiety therapy is evidenced based - conducted by professionals in Dubai. During the session, a CBT practitioner will work with you to identify the link between how you think, feel, and behave. We then work on changing these unhealthy and unhelpful patterns. The sessions are very structured and you will be given tasks between sessions to practice different skills. Ultimately, our goal is to make ourselves redundant by working with you to identify the coping strategies you need to manage on your own. Typically, we see clients for between four to twelve sessions. Dr. Sarah Rasmi is our in-house CBT practitioner, although Malak , Sonia, and Dr. Ola integrate it into their practice as well.
2. Integrative psychotherapy
There are many different therapeutic approaches: cognitive behavioral therapies, psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapies, and humanistic and existential therapies. In addition to CBT, we offer holistic therapy. This means that we draw from different approaches based on our clients’ needs.
Malak Kamel (M.A.) and Sonia Singhal (M.Ed., M.A., LMFT) are integrative psychotherapists. Their approach is generally strengths-based, empowerment-driven, and emotion-centered.
3. Art therapy, play therapy, and sandtray therapy
In addition to talk therapy, we offer creative therapies including art therapy, play therapy, and sandtray therapy. These therapeutic modalities are a wonderful alternative, especially when people have difficulty expressing themselves verbally. Children and adolescents, regardless of their creative inclinations/abilities, have a tendency to respond well to these types of therapies. Talk therapy - especially CBT is also incorporated into the sessions.
Dr. Ola Pykhtina is our art therapist, play therapist, and sandtray therapist. She specializes in working with children, teenagers, and young people aged 3 and up.
What do we do during a session?
What we do in a session will depend on the type of treatment that you are getting. CBT is a structured talk therapy session with activities and exercises. Integrative psychotherapy is an unstructured talk therapy session where we explore whatever the client wants to focus on. Art therapy, play therapy, and sandtray therapy will centre on a creative task, but will also incorporate some talk.
Why should you work with us?
We are warm, empathic, experienced and non-judgmental mental health professionals (with the option for English, Arabic, French, and Russian). We combine the latest research and best practice with your goals to give you the best tools for you in our confidential and affordable anxiety therapy sessions.