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Anxiety about going to work

The feelings of anxiety do not begin with the morning alarm bell. Nope, the anxiety about going to work is felt throughout the night with fitful, restless sleep. The mere idea of entering the workplace triggers waves of stress that threaten to undermine any effort to be productive and engaged at work, and often result in calling out sick.

Workplace phobia, according to a definition published in Psychology, Health & Medicine, is defined as “a phobic anxiety reaction with symptoms of panic occurring when thinking of or approaching the workplace.” Considering the serious consequences of having anxiety about going to work, this particular phobia can be particularly devastating to not only one’s professional life, but their personal life as well. Being unable to keep a job due to this type of phobia can have far-reaching and deleterious consequences.

This specific source of this type of anxiety has often been lumped in with various other disorders. These include obsessive-compulsive disorder, social phobia, specific phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder. This is due to the features of the workplace phobia disorder, which can be recognized in these other forms of anxiety disorder. Finding a remedy is critical, and will likely involve a combination of therapies to help the individual overcome the dread and fear of going to work.

About Workplace Phobia

Individuals who have anxiety about going to work may exhibit a higher level of psychosomatic symptoms. These are the physical symptoms that can accompany a mental health condition, including gastrointestinal distress, migraines, pain, headaches, and fatigue, and often result in excessive absenteeism due to sick days. In fact one 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that 10% of patients with chronic mental health conditions who sought sick leave authorizations for their physical symptoms suffered from workplace phobia.

Identifying workplace phobia is essential in turning the ship around and overcoming a disorder that is negatively impacting quality of life. Employers also benefit from gaining an understanding of this type of anxiety, as loss of productivity related to paid sick days, having to hire temporary workers, and the impact on fellow coworkers are added costs to the business.

Intense irrational fear emerges when the individual thinks about or attempts to go to work. The triggering stimuli, such as encountering the supervisor or colleague, can cause symptoms like those of a specific phobia, such as:

  • Sweating
  • Hot flashes, chills
  • Trembling
  • Choking sensation
  • Inability to face the trigger (enter the workplace)
  • Chest pain, tightness
  • Dry mouth
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Intensive fear when approaching or considering the workplace
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sensation of butterflies in the stomach
  • Mental confusion, disorientation
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Reduction of symptoms when leaving or avoiding the workplace

When exposed to the workplace trigger, the symptoms are so uncomfortable and frightening that the anxiety about going to work can result in avoidance behaviors, thus the high rates of sick leave.

According to an article published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, There are several subtypes of work phobic, including:

  • Work-related anxiety
  • Work-related panic
  • Work-related social phobia
  • Work-related phobia
  • Work-related generalized anxiety
  • Work-related PTSD

What Causes Workplace Phobia or Workplace-related Anxiety?

Workplace phobia, also referred to as ergophobia, can have various causal factors. Aside from the existence of a disorder such as social anxiety, which can feature work-place anxiety or phobia features, other risk factors might include:

  • Having had a prior work-related experience that was traumatic, such as sexual harassment or bullying
  • Performance-based fears
  • Fear of required oral presentations
  • Ongoing interpersonal issues and conflicts with a superior
  • Family history of social anxiety or phobia
  • Multiple traumas or significant negative life events lead to coping or stress-management issues at work

How to Treat Workplace Phobia

Treating work-related anxiety will revolve around changing the thought distortions that lead to the avoidant behaviors or panic symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that helps patients identify the dysfunctional thought-behavior patterns and guide them toward reframing thoughts to eventually be able to cope when confronting the work-related trigger. Combining CBT with exposure therapies that help desensitize the patient to the triggering event or situation can yield positive results.

Medication also plays a role in treatment for workplace phobia or anxiety. Drugs that reduce anxiety, such as benzodiazepines or beta blockers, may help improve the individual’s ability to function in the workplace once again.

Certain holistic strategies can assist in the reduction of stress or anxiety symptoms. These might include yoga, guided meditation, deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, getting regular exercise, and reducing caffeine intake.

Elevation Behavioral Health Treats Workplace Phobia and Workplace-related Anxiety

Elevation Behavioral Health is a luxury residential mental health program located in Los Angeles, California. The team at Elevation has crafted a highly effective treatment protocol for treating workplace phobia or anxiety, using an integrative approach. This includes the evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy, adjunctive therapies, such as EMDR, and holistic therapies that provide additional coping skills through mindfulness training and meditation. For more information about our program, please contact Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

EMDR Trauma Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of therapy that can help individuals overcome the effects of a trauma or other distressing life experiences. When the impact of a traumatic event blocks emotional healing, EMDR can help remove that block so that healing can occur. EMDR has been particularly useful in treating individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by processing the emotions around the event, and then methodically decreasing the potency of the disturbing event.

What is Trauma Disorder?

Trauma disorder occurs after someone has experienced or witnessed a highly traumatic event, and then struggles to overcome the resulting emotional impairment caused by the incident. When the resulting symptoms do not resolve after one month, this is deemed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A trauma is an event that causes intense feelings of fear, or feeling that one’s life is threatened, often accompanied by a sense of lack of control. Examples of traumas include:

  • Physical or sexual assault
  • Serious auto accident
  • Natural disaster
  • Terrorist attack
  • Combat or war
  • Sudden death of loved one

Much of the residual suffering is related to feelings of being shocked by the event, therefore mentally unprepared. Some may suppress the feelings related to the trauma, preferring to be in denial, while others may exhibit symptoms outwardly, either way they lead to functional impairment.

Symptoms following a traumatic event include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Invasive, distressing memories
  • Blaming self or others
  • Loss of interest in things once enjoyed
  • Emotionally numb, detached
  • Physical reaction to memories of event, such as sweating, pounding heart
  • Over-reactive, easily startled
  • Aggression
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling isolated
  • Avoiding situations or people that may trigger memories of event
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Substance abuse
  • Hyper-awareness

What is EMDR Trauma Therapy?

EMDR is an 8-step program that helps individuals gradually overcome their response to the thought of the trauma. The therapist will review the client history of the trauma or traumas to identify the distressing memories or stress-provoking current situations to target during processing. Therapy may begin with childhood events. There therapist will use a finger or other item to create bilateral stimulation, moving the stimulus back and forth while the patient follows it with their eyes.

Over the course of the EMDR program, the individual will incrementally be exposed to the painful event, discussing it with the therapist while following the stimulus back and forth. By talking about the trauma, using the bilateral stimulation, allows the event to gradually lose power. At the end of the sessions the individual will have transformed their thinking from victimhood to one of empowerment.

How Does EMDR Trauma Therapy Work?

EMDR trauma therapy is a type of exposure therapy that works using the biological mechanisms involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. EMDR can help trauma victims shift their thought patterns towards positive, proactive ones. Over the course of treatment, the therapist will guide the individual through the process of acknowledging the event, along with the negative thoughts and body sensations that emerge. During the later portion of treatment the therapist guides the client to shift their thoughts toward a positive belief about themselves, one that was initially identified at the beginning of the treatment. They will then begin to focus on this positive vision of themselves as the exposure therapy continues, resulting in feeling empowered and transformed.

Residential Treatment for PTSD

Emotional trauma can literally paralyze someone, severely impacting their ability to function and often leading to lives of seclusion and substance abuse. When outpatient interventions are not sufficient for helping someone reclaim their life, a residential program may be the best treatment approach.

Residential treatment offers individuals in distress to take a breather from “real life” and reside in a calm, safe, and supportive environment while working through the issues related to the trauma. PTSD can be deeply ingrained, which takes time to unwind and process. Residential treatment provides an extended treatment period for slowly, methodically overcoming the traumatic event.

Treatment will be designed specifically for each individual person, as no two traumas, or responses to a trauma, are alike. The treatment plan will included a comprehensive mix of relevant exposure therapy, such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy or prolonged exposure, both tailored to help individuals with PTSD. In addition, adjunctive methods, such as EMDR and holistic activities, can augment the effects of the psychotherapy.

Continuing Care for PTSD

Following a residential treatment program for PTSD it is essential that recovery is protected and strengthened with appropriate aftercare efforts. The individual will be in a much stronger place following the intensive residential program, but will need to reinforce the skills learned in treatment to maintain the recovery.

This can be accomplished by continuing to receive weekly outpatient therapy. This can be in the form of individual psychotherapy sessions or in group sessions. In fact, groups that gather to discuss daily challenges are often quite effective sources of support for individuals recovering from PTSD. Led by a therapist, the groups will tackle topics of discussion and share their personal experiences, such as encountering triggers, and how they managed that challenge.

Participating in holistic activities is another protective factor following residential treatment. These activities are highly effective in assisting individuals in managing stress and promoting relaxation. Some of these activities include yoga classes, meditation, mindfulness training, massage therapy, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, and guided imagery programs.

It is possible to overcome the devastating effects of a traumatic event. EMDR, along with psychotherapy and holistic activities can help move one through the pain of the trauma and toward a renewed sense of self-empowerment.

Elevation Behavioral Health Leading Provider of Mental Health Services Los Angeles

Elevation Behavioral Health is a premier residential mental health center that treats individuals with trauma disorder. Our comprehensive approach includes a mix of evidence-based psychotherapies, holistic therapies, and adjunctive therapies such as EMDR. EMDR has been shown to compliment the conventional therapies by helping individuals overcome the effects of trauma in a more expedient manner. For more information about our residential program, please contact Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.