Joseph Contorer LMFT provides virtual/telehealth therapy sessions. This may include use of programs like Zoom, FaceTime, Skype or telephonic appointments.

For more information and appointment scheduling please contact the office at any time at:

310-486-0087 or you may also email directly:

ANXIETY DISORDERS Anxiety Disorders and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Anxiety can be thought of as an abnormal level or preoccupation with worry, fear and feelings of being unsafe which leads to an irregularly heightened level of concern about what might happen next.


One of the more commonly diagnosed forms of anxiety disorders is referred to as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD. This is generally an “anticipatory anxiety” affliction. By definition this condition suggests that the person struggling with GAD will experience an excessive amount of worry and disruption pertaining to disproportionate events of  triggers. The majority of time, days, events, and incidents in the life of a person suffering from GAD are spent neurotically worried about something horrible happening next.

Without proper intervention or medication, GAD sufferers are constantly plagued by their symptoms of excessive worry; they persistently focus on negative, yet mostly irrational self-imposed doom and gloom predictions of dread, fear and trauma. One of the cognitive distortions that frequently occurs with GAD is referred to as "catastrophizing" or "horribilizing." With Generalized Anxiety Disorder,  the catastrophizing creates a more dramatic highly elevated perception of events and potential outcomes. The whole mental vision is one that the sufferer has now hyper-magnified in a disproportionate capacity to the actual scenario.

GAD also typically presents with physical symptoms such as muscular tension, headaches/migraines, body aches, abnormal vital signs on breathing, heart rate, and nausea. If GAD spikes to even higher levels, the end result may be what is known as a panic attack.


Possible causes of anxiety disorders might include everything from genetics and biological implications to abuse history, faulty thought processes, compromised levels of self-esteem and problems with confidence and identity development.

Panic Disorder and Panic Attacks

One of the most severe forms of anxiety is referred to as a Panic Attack. For many people who suffer from more extensive or frequent panic attacks, they may be diagnosed specifically with Panic Disorder. A panic attack is an intense escalation of anxiety and fear to the point that there is also notable physical symptoms, such as rapid heart beat, nausea, difficulty breathing or cold clammy sweating. Some people experiencing panic attacks will mimic symptoms of a heart attack or other extreme physical events. It has been reported that some patients seeking emergency room treatment for heart attack symptoms are actually having a panic attack, which must be carefully confirmed and still treated somehow.

Panic Disorder is an insidious condition because it is the cause and result of what is essentially an intense fear of being in fear. Panic Attacks are so noxious, unpleasant and debilitating, that part of the cause/effect vicious cycle is that it is common to develop a strong pathological aversion to experiencing the symptoms or the panic attack again in the future. The fear of another attack continues to fuel the disorder itself.

In other severe cases, panic disorder is associated with a fear of leaving home known as Agoraphobia, because there is also a related aversion to leaving a safe space, primarily the home environment. Agoraphobics can become so debilitated that they are unable and vehemently unwilling to leave their home. The terror and fear of having a panic attack causes some to rigidly refuse to leave their home sometimes for extended periods of time, even years or longer.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

The term “OCD” has been utilized and generally discussed more frequently and perhaps more informally in recent years,  likely because of television, movies and social media. However Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a serious condition. The symptoms of OCD typically include both obsessions (born out of various cognitive thoughts,) and compulsions, which are usually repetitive or ritualistic behaviors. The driving force behind OCD is predominantly organic and physiological, but there are also influential behavioral and situational/lifestyle aspects. The more effective treatment outcomes for OCD sufferers seem to typically include a combination of both talk therapy and medication, depending on each case and the extent of the symptoms and severity.

Treatment WITH Medications
Prescribed by MD, Psychiatrist / Psychopharmacologist

Since the advent of Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication, such as the first one: Prozac, (Fluoxetine) became widely utilized for depression and anxiety disorders after it was approved in 1987, these drugs seem to be one of the more preferred psychopharmacological options to treat depression and anxiety.

SSRI medication works by chemically blocking a mechanism that limits serotonin levels. Serotonin has been found to be directly linked to alteration of mood, anxiety and or obsessional thinking. There are several other psychotropic medications and classes of medications used to treat mood disorders and other mental health conditions as prescribed by your doctor or psychiatrist.

There other SSRI derivatives of Fluoxetine that have been released since Prozac became widely used for treatment of depression, anxiety and several other disorders and conditions. Patients respond differently to SSRI drugs, so sometimes their physician will prescribe one and later switch to another SSRI variation, depending on effectiveness and side-effect issues.

For more technical, clinical details on depression and Anxiety Disorders, please follow this link to: National Institute of Mental Health