Anxiety pertains to various emotional, psychological, and physical symptoms that can cause mild to extreme discomfort and distress. Symptoms of anxiety can include:
- Racing thoughts, obsessive preoccupations, difficulty concentrating, poor memory
- Agitation, feeling wired, difficulty slowing down or relaxing, feeling stressed
- Compulsive, out-of-control behaviors
- Persistent feeling of impending doom or having to constantly be on guard
- Panic attacks, racing heart rate, shallow breathing, dizziness, nausea
- Other physical consequences, such as headaches, digestion problems, and skin rashes
Anxiety can be very painful and frightening. It can prevent normal enjoyment of life’s pleasures and leave you feeling out of control and unsafe. Anxiety can make it impossible for you to get restful sleep, cause problems in your relationships, and interfere with your ability to take care of your personal and work responsibilities.
Anxiety can feel as if a current of electricity is running through you, a kind of tension that can become unbearable. It can create agitation and a need to constantly be moving or fidgeting, leaving you with no ability to relax. Anxiety can leave you feeling an impending sense of doom that something bad is going to happen. Worries can keep scrolling through your mind, over and over again, with no let up, almost as if your mind needs to find something to worry about. You may be unable to concentrate or remember things, causing you to feel as if your thinking is short-circuiting.
Anxiety can also drive you toward harmful, self-soothing behaviors, such as excessive or addictive use of alcohol, drugs, food, sex, and shopping. You may even overindulge in the internet or bury yourself in work as a means to forget all the fears, worries and frustrations that are causing you pain. While providing temporary relief, these behaviors can ultimately leave you feeling more anxious.
Many People Experience Anxiety
We all feel anxiety at times. Frequently the cause of anxiety is readily apparent, such as an upcoming exam or job interview. Often anxiety is actually a good thing, in that it can be a signal to us that something needs addressing. For example, if I’m feeling anxious about an upcoming exam or job interview, my anxiety can motivate me to study or prepare so that I can be successful.
Everyday sources of anxiety are typically temporary, dissipate over time and usually do not require treatment. However, when anxiety becomes more persistent or when the causes are not apparent, and when anxiety starts to interfere with you living your life, then anxiety treatment can be helpful.
How does anxiety treatment work?
As with all therapy, it’s extremely important to create a safe emotional space in which to discuss very sensitive and frightening feelings. Knowing that someone is actively trying to help understand and find relief for your feelings can go a long way toward helping contain overwhelming feelings of anxiety.
Anxiety can be especially debilitating when you don’t understand where it’s coming from. Anxiety can cause you to go to great lengths to avoid certain situations, places, events or even thoughts that make you feel anxious. For example, if I get anxious thinking about problems at my job, I may try to push them out of my mind in an attempt to feel less anxious. Over time, however, I will end up feeling tense, worried, and insecure, but not really know where those feelings are coming from.
Treatment for anxiety involves helping you become more aware of what is going on inside. It involves talking and thinking through your anxiety, which can provide a means of reassurance and security. Bringing out in the open what has been hidden and becoming more aware of what your anxiety is about can be very freeing.
Once you’re more able to identify sources of your anxiety, anxiety treatment can then help you address your anxiety triggers and arrive at strategies for finding relief. This can involve helping you address problems or make life changes that are causing you to feel stressed or overwhelmed. With the help of treatment, you can gain perspective and reality checks so that your worries feel more in proportion to the situation. Anxiety treatment can also help you develop good self-care habits that can help you better manage your symptoms of worry, fear and apprehension.
Anxiety treatment can also help you speak the unspeakable. Painful or embarrassing thoughts, feelings, memories, and desires that you have perhaps kept buried deep inside can cause you to experience tension, pressure, or feelings of doom. Being able to voice these experiences, to get help putting them into words, can be very relieving. Talking about such thoughts and feelings in an atmosphere free from judgment and criticism helps to bring understanding and self-acceptance.
With the help of anxiety treatment you can learn how to feel soothed and reassured in your interaction with your therapist. Over time you can begin to relate to yourself in ways that naturally become more soothing and reassuring. You can start to think yourself through worries and insecurities more effectively and can better sustain feelings of calm and wellbeing on an ongoing basis.
If I’m feeling anxiety, does that mean I need medication?
As with other conditions, many people find that talking about their anxiety in therapy helps improve their symptoms. In those situations, medication isn’t necessary. However, when anxiety is severe, medications may help to diminish those feelings so that they can be more effectively addressed with therapy. People often find that when medication and therapy are used together, they can change attitudes or behaviors that were making them feel anxious in the first place. Over time, medications can be gradually decreased and, if improvement continues, can eventually be discontinued altogether. For other individuals suffering from anxiety, a longer or ongoing course of medications may be necessary.
Anxiety Treatment Can Help
Setting up an initial consultation is usually a good way to see if I can be of help to you. Typically during an initial session, we will talk about what is going on and become better acquainted with each other. I will get a sense of what you’re dealing with and you’ll get an opportunity to learn more about how I think and how I work. This gives us a chance to see if I’m the right therapist for you. At that point, we can figure out a plan for moving forward. To set up your first appointment, you can call me at (415) 255-6213 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.