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Anxiety

Anxiety is a very common experience. In Australia, 1 in 7 people currently experience anxiety.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal response for any human being, and it is often a source of motivation that pushes us to reach our goals. For example, anxiety might be what helps us to prepare effectively for an exam. Once the challenge has passed, the anxious feelings should disappear. Learning to better regulate stress and anxiety is the key to using this powerful feeling to work in a way that is constructive for you.

Anxiety varies from a mild response – considered a normal and healthy response – to somehow challenging life stressors like an exam, a new job, the birth of a child, or going on a first date.  

Anxiety generally manifests as:

  • Thoughts that focus on worry, concern, and fear

  • A physical response to a significant challenge, or even a perceived threat

When anxiety lingers, even once the challenge has passed, people might become anxious by the very idea of being anxious. At its most intense, anxiety can significantly disrupt one's life, resulting in feelings of hopelessness and depression, and a disrupting a healthy way of functioning in the world.

Anxiety can affect the totality of a person, as it can unsettle a set of interacting systems within us; attentional, conceptual, imaginal, physiological, affective, and behavioural, that continually respond to a constantly changing environment.

In your emotions:

  • Hopelessness or flat mood

  • Frustration

  • Despair

  • Unusual feelings of anger

  • Anguish

  • Fear and panic

  • Feelings of self-doubt or lowered self- esteem

At a physical level:

  • Feeling restless

  • Increased heart-rate

  • Trembling, shaking and twitching

  • Feeling light-headed or dizzy

  • Feeling numb

  • Excessive sweating

At a cognitive level:

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Finding yourself easily distracted

  • Worrying a lot or constant rumination

  • Excessive and fast thoughts 

How you relate and behave:

  • Avoidance of specific situations or people

  • Interrupted sleep or insomnia

  • Increase or decrease of appetite

  • Relationships become increasingly difficult

  • Reliance on alcohol or drugs

When does anxiety become a disorder?

Psychologists refer to the DSM to identify specific anxiety disorders, such as Generalised Anxiety, Panic, and Phobia. While these will serve as guidelines, I will be curious to listen to your experience of anxiety, and how it stops you from living the life you wish to live.

Treatment:

In the first few sessions, I will work to understand your situation and experience through a detailed assessment and together we will tailor a treatment plan that works for you.

There is a vast range of treatments for anxiety. Research shows great efficacy in the treatment of anxiety when using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). Through a few strategies, CBT helps to shift those thoughts and behaviours that are limiting and instead offers tools to build skills that will help you manage your anxiety.

 

CBT techniques include:

  • Cognitive restructuring: When you're feeling inadequate or self-critical, cognitive restructuring helps by challenging intrinsic negative thoughts and instead developing a more helpful and supportive way of thinking about yourself and the world.

  • Problem-solving: This technique is used when it seems that “nothing works”. Experiencing a sense of mastery over daily challenges has been shown to reduce anxiety. Together we will set goals and create solutions to those issues so that you can feel more confident in your day.

  • Exposure therapy: Through an imaginary or real scenario, the therapist will support you in confronting specific fears. This is a gradual process that will help you to cope better with fears, will increase your resilience and decrease the rise of anxious feelings.

  • Relaxation: CBT offers a vast array of relaxation techniques, such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, slow diaphragmatic breath. When integrated into daily habits, these techniques have proved to reduce anxiety.

Mindfulness has been found to work effectively in the treatment of anxiety. With mindfulness, you will learn to remain present to your thoughts and sensations, and by observing them you will become aware of your symptoms. This will help decrease the overwhelming feeling that often accompanies anxiety and you will be able to live a fuller life.  

I approach each client from a person-centred stance, which has been found to help increase self-esteem and confidence. A big part aim of therapy is to understand oneself better, and this has been demonstrated to lower levels of anxiety. By using a humanistic approach, we will build from the unique strengths that are already present in you to help to make you feel more confident.

 

It is also important to understand that anxiety can be a result of traumatic events. Anxiety works as protection to of the body and mind against those traumatic events. Fear, panic, insomnia and the like can serve this purpose. Through trauma therapy, I will aim to support you in responding better to triggers and increase your resilience. It is important to know that for some people, this may entail addressing past trauma as well as complex current circumstances and relationships that may be contributing to high levels of anxiety.

 

Book your free consultation to discuss your situation.