Find Peace and Real Joy
Anxiety is the #1 mental health problem in the United States. Anxiety affects 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year. An estimated 20 percent of children have a diagnosable anxiety disorder.
It is typical for anxiety and depression to occur together. Untreatable anxiety is a risk factor for depression in teens and adults. The goods news is that anxiety is highly treatable.
Anxiety is Normal
Anxiety is a normal part of life. We all have anxiety at different times. You may feel anxious about a situation you are dealing with or a decision you are making. We face many decisions, big and small multiples times a day.
A healthy does of fear or worry may even help protect us during dangerous times. It is our signal to act, as we know we may need to escape from something that would be harmful to us. This is our fight or flight response.
When we don’t understand why our body may be responding that way, we tend to think something is wrong. If we believe that a situation is too big to handle, we become anxious which exaggerates the flight or fight response.
Feeling anxious is uncomfortable. When we start to feel this way we want to avoid situations that make us anxious. Avoidance can actually make things worse and increase anxiety levels. It’s when this experience with anxiety becomes more constant that it can become problematic.
How I Help Treat Anxiety
I take a psychoeducational and skill-building approach to treating anxiety. I like to work with my clients to teach them about anxiety, to identify triggers, and to learn what anxiety does when it affects us and what we can do about it. I recommend skills and strategies that take an active approach to dealing with anxiety.
I work with my clients to look at the strengths they can utilize in dealing with anxiety and also teach the missing skills needed to manage their anxiety when it shows up. I also use CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) strategies to evaluate thoughts, feelings, behaviors and how they affect one another. I also teach and suggest mindfulness, meditation and prayer to help manage anxiety.
Depression and Therapy
It is not uncommon for someone diagnosed with anxiety to suffer also from depression. Stressful life events can cause us to feel overwhelmed, sad, lonely and discouraged. These are normal responses to difficult times in our lives. It’s when these feelings persist and low moods become more severe that there should be more concern about significant signs of depression.
I use similar strategies to treat depression as I do with anxiety. I work with my client to assess the stresses or traumatic life experiences that have affected them negatively, their thought patterns and behaviors.
Success in therapy involves reengaging in healthy and enjoyable activities, positive expectancy, taking action to step out and connect with others through activities or to volunteer to help someone else.
“When we’re in touch with our common humanity, we remember that feelings of inadequacy and disappointment are shared by all. This is what distinguishes self-compassion from self pity. Whereas self-pity says ‘poor me’, self-compassion remembers that everyone suffers, and it offers comfort because everyone is human. The pain I feel in difficult times is the same pain that you feel in difficult times”. (Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, 2011.)
Resources: Lynn Lyons, LICSW; Anxiety and Depression Association of America