Treatment Corner: Anxiety

This is currently the number one complaint I receive from my clients. It is incredibly draining to suffer from anxiety, since it has acute physical and emotional symptoms. Anxiety is purely “head energy:” it’s something that originates in our brains that then often results in physical symptoms. However, it is extremely treatable because since it begins with our own thoughts, it can end there too.

Feels Like: Often physical symptoms accompany anxiety. It feels like you are making yourself crazy and physically ill; sometimes feeling alternatively very tired and very tense. Often there is a general sense of impending doom or nervousness, or compulsive worry that seems extreme or irrational. The mind feels like it cannot settle, be at peace, or be comfortable with a decision.

Looks Like: Anxiety can often occur surrounding one subject or situation only, and therefore be covered up quite easily until anxious thoughts are ingrained and well-practiced. A person with anxiety can look like a worrywart, a workaholic, or a hypochondriac.

If Untreated: Anxiety conceals itself in rationalization; that is, we create reasons for our anxious thoughts and spin further into physical symptoms which result in a downward spiral. Anxiety disrupts our normal sense of balance and perspective, which can be very debilitating. What begins with social anxiety, for example, can lead to lack of confidence, self-esteem, and result in depression and isolation. Anxiety is simple to overcome, but takes persistent effort, often with a trained professional.

Does medicine work? Anti-anxiety medications can be effective at calming the central nervous system and preventing panic attacks, but anxiety is a mental state and not a hereditary or biological problem. Medication will never cure the root of anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a proven treatment that is very effective at reducing symptoms and preventing relapses.

If you come to my office with anxiety, here’s where we would begin:

  • Focus on reducing symptoms first, often using cognitive behavioral techniques
  • Figure out anxiety’s core causes, beginning with identifying the hidden gain. For example, anxiety usually begins as a way to protect us and heighten our awareness. (A little of most behaviors is good: anxiety before a test sharpens our awareness and helps us perform well; too much makes us go blank or have panic attacks.)
  • Homework helps you practice prevention strategies, as well as help you figure out how to use solution-focused techniques to strengthen areas of your life where you are prone to anxiety.

If you or someone you know is affected by anxiety, please contact me to discuss options to help you feel better.