Anxiety and Panic Counseling
If you have an anxiety disorder, you don’t need me to tell you how exhausting it can be. It’s like your mind decides to run a marathon every day. You feel worried about something, most of the time. Even if one part of you can recognize “this is probably not worth worrying about”, you’re anxiety decides to hold onto it anyways. Enjoying things is really hard these days too because your anxiety just wont let up.
The feeling of anxiety is something we all experience at different points in time. It’s a normal and natural response to uncertainty in our lives. Our nervous system kicks into high gear as a way of preparing us for potential danger. But for some people, their nervous system is chronically elevated, even in the absence of anything truly threatening. When anxiety becomes chronic, it interferes with your ability to optimally function in daily life. Relationships, job performance, and health can all begin to seriously suffer.
Common symptoms of Anxiety
feeling”keyed up” or on edge
being unable to relax
feeling tired all the time
feelings of nausea
feeling as if your throat is closing up
tension in neck, shoulders, or jaw
While anxiety can persist for long periods of time, and may have a more gradual onset, panic tends to come on quickly and intensely. There’s a good reason it’s often referred to as a “panic attack”. The feeling seemingly comes out of nowhere and it might feel as if you are having a heart attack or it might even seem like you’re dying. Its important to know that even if it feels like it, you cant actually die from a panic attack.
Panic Attack Symptoms
sense of impending doom
feeling as if your throat is closing shut
fear of loosing control
Types of Anxiety and Panic Disorders
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by a persistent and excessive sense of worry about a wide range of things. Those with GAD feel controlled by their worry more days than not. They may find themselves experiencing anxiety over work stress, money or financial concerns, family, health or other areas of their life. The anxiety often seems inexplicable or out of proportion to actual events. Those with GAD often think of worse case scenarios, and have trouble calming themselves down or finding ways to relax.
Social Phobia: Those who struggle with Social Phobia or Social Anxiety disorder experience an intense feeling of self-consciousness or fear of being judged or humiliated in every-day social interactions. To learn more about social anxiety, click here.
Panic Disorder: to qualify for a diagnosis of Panic disorder an individual must experience recurrent and seemingly out-of-the blue panic attacks. In addition, those with panic disorder develop a fear of experiencing future panic attacks. Worrying about what might trigger the next panic attack and/or changing your daily routine in order to avoid or prevent attacks from happening is a tell-tale sign of panic disorder.
Agoraphobia: Agoraphobia is having a fear of and avoiding places or situations in which you are afraid you might have a panic attack or cannot escape. For some people the fear may be connected to specific places such as public transportation, large crowds, or small spaces. For other people it may be more general and the thought of leaving their home in any capacity triggers fear and anxiety.
Specific Phobias: As the name suggests, a specific phobia is diagnosed when an individual has an intense fear of a specific object, situation, or stimuli and goes through great lengths to avoid the feared object. Examples of phobias are a fear of needles, a fear of flying, a fear of throwing up, or fear of heights.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: OCD is characterized by two main features. 1) the person experiences a persistent pattern of irrational fears or obsessive thoughts, and 2) the person engages in repetitive/compulsive behaviors in response to the anxiety provoking thoughts. The compulsive behavior eases the tension and anxiety of the fearful thoughts, but often leaves the individual feeling at the mercy of their compulsive behavior.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: PTSD can occur after a person experiences a terrifying or traumatic incidence. Its normal to experience increased anxiety and trouble coping after a difficult life experience, but if your mental health continues to deteriorate, or the symptoms persist for months to years after the event, it could be indicative of PTSD. Common symptoms of PTSD are recurrent and disruptive flashbacks of the trauma, nightmares, feeling on guard for potential danger all the time, feeling hopeless, experiencing chronic guilt and shame. Learn more about trauma here.
How to deal with anxiety and panic
Contributing factors to anxiety are physiological, psychological, and environmental. With any mental illness, its important to rule out entirely organic causes (such as hyperthyrodism) first. Identifying what environmental or life style factors might be contributing to your anxiety is another important step in managing it. Over-consumption of caffeine, lack of sleep, and a diet high in overly processed foods may be worsening factors for your anxiety.
Types of therapy for anxiety
Mindfulness based therapies:
Acceptance and Commitment therapy and Dialectical Behavioral therapy are two models of counseling that rely heavily on mindfulness skills to help clients manage their thought, emotions, urges, and behaviors more effectively.
What is mindfulness? mindfulness is easier to experience than it is to explain, but essentially when we are practicing mindfulness we are able to observe both our internal experiences (thoughts, feelings and sensations) as well as our external environment from a compassionate and non-judgmental view-point. Mindfulness allows us to engage fully in the present moment with flexibility and without impulsivity.
Often times the anxiety we develop was triggered by an experience or experiences we have had. Maybe you were bullied and became socially anxious, maybe you did poorly in school when you were younger, and now experience significant performance or test anxiety, or perhaps since loosing a loved one you have not been able to shake the feeling that something awful is coming. When this is the case, EMDR therapy helps your brain to process these traumatic experiences. In a way its like your brain is a broken record. Its stuck and replaying parts of your past experiences. EMDR helps your brain get unstuck, and play the record through.
Time to take Charge.
If you’re ready to begin taking back control from your anxiety, connect with me today and we will start the journey together.