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Anxiety is a normal emotional reaction. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), “anxiety refers to anticipation of a future concern and is more associated with muscle tension and avoidance behavior.” However, individuals that experience persistent and debilitating anxiety may have an anxiety disorder. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) asserts: “Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions, each having unique symptoms. However, all anxiety disorders have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.” There are a variety of signs and symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. These can include, but are not limited to, the following examples provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Overwhelming worry and fear
  • Isolation 
  • Low self-esteem/ low self-worth
  • Tension
  • Anxiety 
  • Worry/ Fear
  • Agitation
  • Muscle tension
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Dysphoria

The symptoms can present in any combination with varying levels of severity. If left untreated, an individual struggling with an anxiety disorder is at increased risk for developing a plethora of adverse short and long-term effects. There are a variety of treatment options available in Southern California to help an individual overcome symptom of anxiety. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy 

Psychologist Marsha M. Linehan developed dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) in the late 1980s as means to treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). It has since proven to be an effective method of treatment for an array of mental health ailments (e.g., substance use disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, eating disorders, etc.). DBT is a form of evidence-based psychotherapy that is founded on the principals of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and blends Eastern mindfulness techniques (e.g., awareness, mindfulness and attentiveness to current situations and emotional experiences) to encourage acceptance and change. Dialectical behavior therapy emphasizes the psychosocial aspect of treatment through four primary behavioral skill modules

  • Core mindfulness 
  • Distress tolerance 
  • Emotion regulation 
  • Interpersonal effectiveness 

The DBT process is carried out in three distinct therapeutic settings: weekly individual psychotherapy (one-on-one therapy) sessions, weekly group DBT skills sessions, and as-needed phone coaching between sessions, should crisis arise. 

DBT and Anxiety

DBT works by providing individuals with new skills to manage painful emotions and reduce relationship conflicts. More specifically, DBT helps an individual work through the process of acquiring emotional and cognitive skills to address and manage his or her excessive anxiety and associated symptoms. When regularly applied, the DBT skills can help an individual improve his or her ability to regulate emotions, learn to better tolerate distress and negative emotions, remain mindful and present in the moment, and learn to communicate and interact with others more effectively. 


The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

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