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Understanding Anxiety: How Therapy Can Set You Free

Understanding anxiety

Are you one of the many people who constantly worry about the future, replay past events in your mind, often feel a knot in your stomach or a sense of unease that just won’t go away? If the answer’s yes, don’t worry – you are not alone. Anxiety, your body’s natural response to stress, is a common mental health concern that can significantly impact daily life, relationships, and overall well-being. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, “about a third of adults overall (32.3%) reported anxiety and depression symptoms in 2023.”

Therapy offers a safe space to explore anxiety, develop coping strategies, and embark on a path toward healing and resilience. But first, you need to understand it to seek help when necessary.

Introduction to Anxiety:

Anxiety is a multifaceted emotion characterized by feelings of apprehension, fear, or unease about uncertain outcomes or future events. While mild anxiety can serve as a motivating force, excessive or chronic anxiety can impair daily functioning and quality of life.

How Anxiety Manifests:

Your anxiety can manifest in a myriad of ways. Mentally it ranges from persistent worrying to intrusive thoughts, irrational fears, difficulty concentrating, irritability, or a sense of impending doom. Here are some common thought traps that take hold of our psyche in such instances

  • Over-Estimating Danger, Catastrophizing, Fortune Telling: Imagining an unlikely occurrence is just waiting to happen to you or predicting unfavorable outcomes without data. “What if the parachute doesn’t open for me?” OR “I never get things right. I’m going to mess it up.”
  • Labelling: Negative self-talk and put-downs, “I’m so underconfident.”
  • Mind reading: Imagining what others are thinking. “I know she doesn’t like me because I’m not as fun as the others.”

Physically anxiety shows a range of symptoms that trigger the body’s “fight or flight” response. These include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shallow breathing or hyperventilation
  • Muscle tension or trembling
  • Sweating or clamminess
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances, such as nausea or diarrhea
  • Fatigue or insomnia

Common Anxiety Disorders:

As therapists, we encounter a variety of anxiety disorders. From generalized anxiety disorder to panic disorder, social anxiety, or specific phobias, anxiety can take many forms and can be triggered by a wide range of factors. Individuals with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) also experience anxiety as an underlying emotion. At Therapy Villa, it is essential for us to comprehensively assess your anxiety and its related disorders before we design an appropriate and effective treatment plan.

The Power of Therapy to Combat Anxiety and Heal

Persistent and overwhelming anxiety causes stagnation in daily life while the world continues to progress around you. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), “Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those people with anxiety disorder receive treatment.” As a mental health professional, I always remind people that the journey towards overcoming anxiety is not one that you have to navigate alone – but taking the first step is completely yours to make. Allow trained counselors to support you in the healing process.

Assessment and Diagnosis:

Diagnosis is step one – the most crucial to a treatment plan. A comprehensive assessment by a qualified mental health professional is essential to determine the type and severity of an anxiety disorder before tailoring specific treatment for you.

Therapies for Anxiety

When it comes to anxiety treatment, your therapist will lean on various therapeutic approaches. While using Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) approaches, your therapist will guide you through identifying and changing unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors while teaching you skills for emotional regulation and better interpersonal interactions. Mindfulness-based therapies will assist you in embracing the present moment, releasing the burden of past regrets and future worries. Somatic Psychotherapies, such as somatic experiencing and EMDR therapy, will help process traumatic memories, ease associated anxiety, and address the mind-body connection for overall emotional well-being. In severe or persistent cases, medication may be suggested along with psychotherapy.

Coping Strategies:

Therapy equips you with a toolkit of coping strategies to manage your anxiety in real time.

Identifying Triggers

 As a first step, through therapy, individuals pin down the underlying causes of their anxiety to specific situations, thoughts, or past experiences. Identifying triggers helps to formulate effective strategies to reduce their impact on overall well-being.

Addressing Avoidant Behaviors

Avoidance, while common, can ultimately perpetuate feelings of fear and anxiety. In therapy, you will learn to confront fears gradually and confidently to build resilience.

Self-Love and Compassion

Anxiety often results in self-criticism and negative self-talk. Therapy provides a nurturing environment for guided reflection and self-exploration to foster self-acceptance and kindness.

Body and Nervous System

Therapy can ease the physical impact of anxiety on your body and regulate the nervous system through techniques such as relaxation exercises and breathing practices.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a powerful anxiety management tool for grounding in the present, observing thoughts without judgment, and cultivating calm in the face of inner turmoil.

Social Support

Therapy provides a supportive and non-judgmental space to explore feelings and identify sources of social support along with strategies for seeking help when needed.

Therapy offers a transformative journey of self-discovery, growth, and healing if you are grappling with anxiety. At Therapy Villa, we offer comprehensive assessments that help with your anxiety treatment planning. Our proven methods, compassionate support, and personalized guidance help you confront that debilitating anxiety, cultivate resilience, and reclaim your lives with courage and confidence.

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