Counseling for Anxiety
Anxiety. You try to go to sleep at night, but the worried thoughts just keep coming. Throughout the day an endless stream of thoughts seems to steal the moment. Your mind jumps from one thing to the next. As soon as you solve one problem another one pops quickly into your head. You feel distracted, irritable, exhausted. Your mind feels like a worry factory. This causes you to be short with your kids, perform poorly at work or just generally feel like you are not thriving but merely surviving. Why can’t I just stop thinking about all these things? Why does my brain tend to torture me with these catastrophic thoughts?
These feelings can be overwhelming, so overwhelming in fact that they can send an alarm to your fight or flight system – flipping you over into a full-blown panic attack. This experience can feel very intense – making you sweat, shake, feel numb or tingly, and feel like you are in danger that something really bad is about to happen. You might say to yourself, “I feel like I might be going crazy” or “I feel like I’m having an out of body experience “(called de-realization or de-personalization). Heightened experiences like this can stop you from doing things you really would like to do – like flying, driving, going to game or concert, or even something as simple as going to the grocery store.
So, what can be done about anxiety and/or panic? The great news is anxiety and panic are highly treatable. Treatment for daily or general anxiety usually comes in the form of increasing the ability to kick in the calming response (parasympathetic nervous system) which is the opposite of where anxiety lives in the body. This includes looking at thought processes, learning calming techniques like meditation, prayer, mindfulness, relaxation, re-breathing, grounding and many more. These and other techniques form a toolbox to keep daily anxiety at a reasonable level. If daily anxiety is kept lower, you are less likely to flip over into more acute anxiety which can lead to a panic attack.
Panic attacks themselves require a different treatment. They are best treated through psychoeducation, learning about what’s actually happening in your body, learning to trust your body’s ability to handle panic, and setting up a hierarchy of avoided activities. This is very important to understand when it comes to specific phobias and panic disorder – as panic “begets” itself – meaning, once you have had a panic attack, you remember that feeling and anything that comes close to that feeling can start to become a trigger thus increasing panic. The more we fear and avoid, the more intense the panic becomes and the more narrow our lives become. Call today to begin the steps toward breaking free from fear and anxiety!