Counselling for Anxiety
Everyone experiences moments of worry and nervousness. Anxiety symptoms can be experienced as part of a stress response or as a motivator to change behaviour. An anxiety disorder is when a person experiences unexpected or chronic symptoms of anxiety that significantly impacts life, how one feels, thinks and behaves.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a mental health disorder that has been broken down into varying types due to prevalent symptoms.
An intense fear of an object, animal or situation. Most individuals experience fear or being afraid of something. A phobia disrupts an individual’s life to the extent that they will change their behaviour in order to avoid the feared object or situation.
When someone experiences repeated or unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is a feeling of intense fear that suddenly overcomes the mind and body for a short period of time. Individuals may experience shortness of breath, nausea, rapid heartbeat. Those who experience having a panic disorder fear the experience repeating and become consumed with worry that something bad will happen as a result of having a panic attack. Individuals may change their lifestyle completing in order to avoid triggering more panic attacks.
When an individual fears the ability to escape a situation or find help if they experience symptoms of anxiety or a panic attack. This can cause an individual to avoid public places or lead to the individual remaining in their home.
Social Anxiety Disorder
When an individual experiences intense fear of experiencing embarrassment or being negatively evaluated by others impacting the individual's ability to be present in social situations. This is likely to largely impact relationships, employment or school performance.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
When an individual experiences excessive worry daily, having catastrophic thoughts and envisioning the worst case scenario for each situation. Many individuals report physical symptoms including muscle tension and problems sleeping.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
When an individual experiences unwanted thoughts, images, or urges that contribute to anxiety or otherwise know as obsessions and repeated actions meant to reduce the anxiety, also referred to as a compulsion. Obsessions and compulsions typically take a lot of time and energy for an individual, causing a significant amount of distress.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Individuals experience PTSD typically after a traumatic event, such as abuse, an accident, or a natural disaster. Symptoms of PTSD include reliving the event through flashbacks or nightmares, avoiding reminders of the traumatic event and feeling unsafe in the world even when not presented with danger.
Who does Anxiety affect?
Individuals are more likely to experience an anxiety disorder after being exposed to a traumatic event or stressful life experience. Symptoms of anxiety become more prominent in individuals that have developed a specific mindset, such as “everything must be perfect” or have developed unhealthy means of coping with stress. Other individuals may experience symptoms of anxiety as a result of a hormonal imbalance.
What can I do about Anxiety?
If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety it is important to seek professional help in order to learn healthy coping strategies, building healthy behaviours and mindset so that you can better manage anxiety.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) teaches individuals how their thoughts, feelings and behaviours work together and how to gain more self-awareness about this process. CBT also teaches important skills such as stress management, realistic thinking, relaxation, solving problems, behavioural change and identifying emotions. A goal of CBT is to identify and change the unhealthy thinking and behavioural patterns that contribute to anxiety.
How can I help a loved one who may appear to be experiencing depression?
Here are some tools for supporting someone you love:
- Take the time to educate yourself on anxiety and learn how to effectively listen to what your loved one is experiencing.
- Help to establish healthy boundaries within the relationship.
- Seek support for yourself.
- Be patient with the individual recovering from anxiety, helping them learn and practice new coping strategies.
Avoid offering unwanted advice. Listen and ask the individual what positive support would look like for them.
In all, seeking professional help becomes essential for individuals experiencing symptoms of anxiety in order to change one’s perceptions and behaviours.
Heather Kempton at Optimal Life in Coquitlam can help individuals engage in recovery from anxiety and experience a more fulfilling and joyous life.