What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is our body’s alarm system that there is something dangerous in our environment and our survival is at stake. This alarm system is useful when a tiger is about to attack us or we are about to drive into oncoming traffic and we must make a split-second decision to fight, flight, freeze, or appease. However, when we are constantly vigilant for danger it quickly depletes our energy, which can lead to poor decision making out of defensiveness and fear.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Some of the signs of anxiety indicating our internal alarm system is activated include:
- Excessive worry and racing thoughts; difficulty quieting your mind
- Restlessness, difficulty relaxing, a constant sense of dread and doom
- Constant exhaustion and fatigue
- Muscle tension, chronic pain, back spasms, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome
- Difficulty concentrating
- Avoiding and procrastinating on tasks
- Nervousness, dizziness, sweating
- Shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, heart palpitations
- Social anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Feeling irritable and easily angered
Your Experience is Unique
Depending on your cultural background, upbringing, and identities, you may experience symptoms of anxiety that are unique to you. Some people experience anxiety mostly as physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, stomach aches, muscle tension, or headaches. Others may experience anxiety as a sense of restlessness, agitation, or irritability. Sometimes it is clear what is causing you anxiety and sometimes the source of anxiety is unknown. Anxiety can also occur together with other mental health concerns such as depression, trauma, or disordered eating. Given the many forms of anxiety, it is sometimes hard to identify. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 19.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced anxiety in the past year. You are not alone. With support, you can learn to calm your alarm system and regain control over your life.
Symptoms of anxiety can be debilitating. You may find it more difficult to go to school, function at work, stay engaged with your friends and family, and take care of yourself. When they begin to significantly impair your daily functions, it may be time for anxiety treatment. This alarm system has an important message to tell us and they are not easily suppressed unless we listen to our bodies and change the context of our lives. This is why, I believe, it is important to address not only the symptoms, but also explore the roots of anxiety in psychotherapy for long-term relief and lasting change.
What Does Anxiety Treatment Look Like?
When you enter into anxiety treatment with me, I will first take a broad and comprehensive approach to understanding you and your life. This includes your current stressors and symptoms, your relationship dynamics, your past experiences, your family history, your sociopolitical context, your cultural background and identities, your coping strategies, the patterns that you have noticed in your life, your strengths and resilience, etc. Then we will take the issues that are the most alive for you and go deeper. I believe that our emotions give us clues to the bigger picture and it is the also the vehicle for change. Therefore, we will explore your emotions and decipher what the anxiety is trying to say. We will also work on fine-tuning your current coping strategies or introducing new ones to better manage stress and overwhelming emotions. Anxiety is unique for each person so the treatment varies between individuals. This also means that the length of time you are in counseling varies from person to person, depending on the complexities of your history, your identities, your relationships, and your life.
How Will I Know That I Am Making Progress in Anxiety Treatment or When I Am Better?
Progress in therapy is not as a linear path across time but a circular journey to health and healing. Progress in therapy is like a screw. In therapy, you may feel like we are going around and around on the same issues but each time we pass by them we are going deeper. Through the practice of effective coping strategies, we will immediately address the most painful aspects of your life and decrease the symptoms that hinders your everyday living. From there, we will go deeper to explore the roots of your concerns. When you have noticed significant improvements in your mood, relationships, and functioning, we will then focus our energy on preventing anxiety in the future and to explore ways for you to live a life that is full of hope, joy, and empowerment. To get the most value out of our work together, you can take responsibility for your part of the therapy process: show up on time, communicate cancellations timely, think about our sessions beforehand, complete assignments, be ready and motivated to make changes in your life, value directness in feedback, take risks, try new things, and apply the new coping strategies to your life.
Begin Anxiety Treatment in My Ballard Office
You do not have to live with feeling stuck. Anxiety and worry don't have to hold you back from a life worth living. If what you've read here resonates and you live in the Seattle area, I encourage you to reach out and contact me today. We can schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation and begin exploring how anxiety treatment can help you begin to move forward.
Other Counseling Services
You are a unique individual, and you might not have only one issue you are struggling with that fits neatly under anxiety treatment. That is why, I offer a variety of counseling services at my Ballard counseling office. I take a holistic approach to your mental health using techniques from various evidence-based counseling approaches to help you create lasting change and thrive with challenges. Some of the other services I offer include psychotherapy for anxiety, trauma, and disordered eating, as well as marriage and couples counseling.