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Anxiety Counselling Perth
Feeling stressed or worried is a normal and natural human experience. Most of us experience some level of stress or worry on most days in response to a situation where we feel under pressure. These feelings usually pass once the stressful situation has ended. Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried. For some, it may be experienced as ongoing, intense and excessive, along with other frequent and severe debilitating symptoms that cause distress and leave you feeling powerless and out of control.
Anxiety is the most common reason for seeking counselling. It is a treatable condition, so there’s no reason why you should suffer in silence. Conveniently located north and south of the river, I offer counselling and psychotherapy services to people who struggle with anxiety. Learning how to manage your anxiety constructively can help you find relief and develop the skills you need to minimise the symptoms and cope confidently with daily life.
Fear is the automatic emotional response to a real or perceived imminent life-threatening danger. It occurs in both animals and humans, enabling us to deal with threatening situations by preparing us for action. For example, if a dangerous animal confronted us, it is likely that we would respond with fear. This emotional response initiates a whole series of automatic physical, behavioural and cognitive changes that ultimately serve to protect us, known as the fight, flight or freeze response.
Symptoms of the above response may be experienced as:
Dizziness or light-headedness
Changes to vision
An increase in heart rate and strength of beat
Quick and shallow breathing
Nausea and butterflies in the stomach
A rush of adrenaline
An increase in sweating
Feelings of anger or rage (fight)
An overwhelming desire to escape (flight)
Feeling unable to move (freeze)
The experience of anxiety is very similar to the experience of fear. The main difference is that with anxiety, the fight, flight or freeze response is triggered in preparation for a perceived future danger, unlike fear where the response is associated with real imminent danger. For those who trigger this response regularly concerning a perceived future danger, it can become so severe and prolonged it can impair daily functioning.
Severe Anxiety & Anxiety Disorders
Ongoing severe anxiety that is poorly managed is known to contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, digestive issues, depression, relationship difficulties, substance misuse, self-harm and suicide. Ongoing severe anxiety may also result in an individual developing an anxiety disorder. There are many types of anxiety disorders. Here are some of the more common ones. These brief descriptions are for educational purposes only and should not be used to label or diagnose yourself with a condition.
Agoraphobia is the fear of being in a situation where one might experience anxiety or panic and where escape from the situation might be difficult or embarrassing. Although the primary fear appears to be a fear of public places such as shopping centres, public transportation and open spaces, evidence suggests the anxiety is more about having a panic attack.
Persistent and excessive anxiety or worry most of the time, for at least six months that the individual finds difficult to manage or control. The individual’s worries relate not just to specific stressful situations, but they also relate to several aspects of everyday life, including work, health, family, relationships and/or financial issues. The individual may experience physical symptoms, including:
restlessness or feeling on edge
being easily fatigued
difficulty concentrating or the mind going blank
Refers to a healthy individual having an excessive concern or fear about having a serious illness. People with hypochondria have a constant fixation with the body, self-examination and self-diagnosing.
Obsessions are unwanted recurrent and persistent thoughts or desires that the individual tries to control but which are very difficult to eliminate from the mind. These persistent thoughts may cause significant anxiety or distress. A compulsion is an uncontrollable urge to perform some repetitive action or ritual to relieve the anxiety. For example, someone who is obsessed with catching an infection and therefore washes themself or cleans their environment repeatedly.
Panic attacks are unexpected surges of intense fear or intense discomfort that reach a peak within minutes, accompanied by physical and/or cognitive symptoms. The panic attack may or may not occur for an apparent reason. Sometimes, people experiencing a panic attack think they are having a heart attack or about to die. Panic disorder is the term used to describe recurrent panic attacks or persistent fears of having one for more than a month or an unhelpful change in behaviour because of the panic attacks.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):
PTSD is a particular set of reactions that can develop in individuals who have experienced an extremely traumatic event(s) which threatened their life or safety or that of others around them. In this condition, the individual often re-experiences the traumatic event(s). This experience may be accompanied by ongoing symptoms of nightmares, flashbacks of the event, difficulty relaxing, and the avoidance of anything related to the event. As a result, the person may experience feelings of intense fear, helplessness or horror.
Social Anxiety or Social Phobia:
In this condition, individuals experience intense anxiety or fear brought on by exposure to certain types of social interactions or social situations in which there is an expectation to speak. For example, meeting unfamiliar people, circumstances in which the individual may be observed eating or drinking, and situations in which the individual performs or speaks in public. The person’s fear is driven by ideas of being negatively evaluated by others, by being embarrassed, humiliated, or rejected, or offending others. The failure to speak has significant consequences on achievement in academic or occupational settings or otherwise interferes with normal social communication.
In this condition, people experience clinically significant fear or anxiety about specific objects or situations, such as spiders, heights, or flying. The fear, anxiety, or avoidance is almost always immediately induced by the phobic situation, to a degree that is persistent and out of proportion to the actual risk posed.
Strategies to Manage Anxiety
Being able to control anxiety is a learned behaviour, and anxiety can be effectively managed. It’s important to seek support early as the symptoms may not go away on their own. The following strategies are known to help to manage anxiety.
In some cases, medication is used as a temporary treatment option for reducing the symptoms of anxiety while you are taking it. However, it does not address the underlying causes.
Learning relaxation skills can help you release the physical tension in your body, which may be contributing to you experiencing excessive anxiety. Simple daily relaxation tools may be helpful, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, mindfulness exercises and non-strenuous exercises like yoga.
Healthy Lifestyle Choices:
Eat nutritious food
Obtain sufficient sleep
Engage in regular physical activity - for many people, walking, running, or swimming is helpful
Take time out for family, friends and recreational activities
Avoid the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs
Relief brought about by avoidance of an anxiety-provoking situation is temporary. It can mean you don’t get a chance to face your fear and prove to yourself you can cope with it, in turn causing your anxiety to persist. Therefore, exposure to the anxiety-provoking situation, rather than avoiding it, is usually the best way to reduce its impact. A trained professional therapist can provide coping skills and support you to do this slowly and gradually. This allows you to build your confidence steadily, and better control and eventually eliminate your excessive anxiety.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT):
CBT is a structured psychological treatment which recognises that the way we feel, behave and respond to situations is based on the way we think. Thinking that is inaccurate, based on negative predictions or based on false assumptions about other people and the world in general often contributes to anxiety and other negative mood states. CBT involves working with a professional therapist to identify thought and behaviour patterns that are causing you to become anxious. Once explored and challenged, these anxiety-provoking thought patterns can be replaced by more positive thoughts and beliefs that reduce your anxiety and improve your coping skills.
Tackle Your Anxiety Today
Anxiety is a treatable condition. I can help you explore the possible causes and triggers of your anxiety. With evidence-based techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), I can also work with you on how to diminish, manage and resolve your anxiety symptoms. Why not contact me today and take that first step to regain control of your life.
William Macaulay Counselling
North of the River Location
42b Salvado Road
South of the River Location
17 Willcock Street