Anxiety Treatment by a Psychologist
Psychologists have a high success rate when helping people with anxiety
There are increasing numbers of people suffering from symptoms of anxiety, and seeking anxiety treatment from a psychologist. On the positive side, psychologists have learned more and more about how peoples emotions, and how the brain works. Excessive use of alcohol or drugs can be seen as self medication of anxiety. Adolescents and children also suffer from anxiety.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Constant worrying, low confidence, inability to make a decision, difficulty concentrating and remembering things, being irritable, a feeling of being keyed up or avoiding or being fearful in certain situations commonly occur. But if this happens too often or the symptoms interfere with your ability to lead a happy life, it is recommended that you seek anxiety counselling. For some, anxiety is ongoing and continues for no particular reason making daily activities difficult or impossible. These people are said to have an anxiety disorder. A treatment program is necessary.
Panic Attacks are often overcome through seeing a psychologist. Panic is a form of anxiety but generally comes on much more quickly and the symptoms are much stronger.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, depending on what triggers the anxiety and how it manifests:
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Individuals who constantly worry may not be aware that this arises from negative attitudes and is a thinking habit. Worriers often have a parent who is also a worrier. People with this condition worry excessively – they have worry about most things, such as the health, money, work or relationships. Falling asleep is often a problem
- Panic Disorder (PD). People who have this condition experience extremely unpleasant symptoms in situations where other people would not be afraid. They feel that they may die or go crazy. They get chest pains, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, numbness, trembling. In some cases, people avoid going out all together because they are so scared of experiencing a panic attack.
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. If in the past, sometimes even a long time in the past, you have been through an extremely stressful or even traumatic situation, you may find that symptoms of anxiety have persisted. When the feelings and thoughts relating to the trauma have persisted, seeing a psychologist can help free you from the influences of the past. In the extreme case, when a range of symptoms including chronically high levels of anxiety and flashbacks, a diagnosis of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder may apply.
- Agoraphobia. People with agoraphobia experience anxiety in places of all kinds, crowded places, supermarkets and shopping centres, public transport, lifts, and other places. To avoid this happening, they often restrict the places that they will go.
- Specific Phobia. A phobia is an intense and irrational fear about a particular object or situation. Often exposure to the feared situation, person or thing can spark a panic attack. This is so unpleasant that many people will go to great lengths to avoid feeling that bad.
- Social Phobia. This is extreme discomfort or fear in social settings. the person reports dying of embarrassment and fears being judged. At Rose Park Psychology, the person to see is Dr Remy McCubbin, who has a special interest in this area. Some people with Social Phobia can become depressed, ofter because of the social withdrawal that follows.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Everyone is familiar with the expression OCD. For some this is mild and indicates perhaps an excessive orderliness and perfectionism. But some people with this condition experience intrusive and unwanted thoughts such as fears of contamination, of not locking the house properly, of committing violent acts, or bizarre sexual images. These intrusive thoughts are called obsessions. They may perform elaborate rituals like washing hands or checking things over and over. These rituals are usually time-consuming and interfere with normal life. People with this disorder are often extremely embarrassed about it and keep it a secret from others. Hoarding disorder and excoriation (skin-picking) disorder, and body dysmorphic disorder (when people have an excessive and irrational fear that they have a defect in their physical appearance) and trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder) are included in this category.
- Illness Anxiety Disorder (Severe Health Anxiety or Hypochondriasis). People with this condition worry excessively about their health. They fear that they have or may develop a serious illness. It is always essential to see you doctor to rule out the presence of illness. Health anxiety persists or returns even after getting reassurance from their doctor. People with this disorder frequently check themselves for symptoms of illness, avoid places such as hospitals that remind them of illness, or may be very worried about germs and excessive cleanliness. They excessively seek reassurance and information from doctors, as well as the internet about their health.
Fortunately, effective anxiety treatment is available, and anxiety is often a very manageable condition.
You can make an appointment with a psychologist without a referral, if you would prefer private treatment, or if you feel your anxiety is not severe enough to be called a disorder, but you would still like to be less anxious. If you feel that your anxiety is significant and you would like to claim the Medicare rebate, make an extended appointment with your GP. They can assess your symptoms and draw make a Mental Health Care Plan.
Traditionally anxiety has been treated with Cognitive Behaviour therapy. CBT is a form of structured therapy, which aims to change the way a person thinks and behaves in certain situations by teaching them techniques to manage their anxiety, such as slow-breathing and changing the focus of their attention away from worries and anxiety. It can also help change an unhelpful thinking style to one that is more rational. Without throwing out the approaches that have been successful in the past, our psychologists also use the mindfulness approach, ACT, EMDR and other recently developed approaches.
Around 14 per cent of Australians are affected by an anxiety disorder each year, but only a small percentage of these will seek treatment. The good news is that most anxiety disorders can be successfully treated. We welcome phone calls and our receptionists will help you to find the right psychologist for you.