While other mental health challenges can be hard to discern, anxiety is often obvious and more difficult to ignore. While the root of anxiety means literally to “vex or trouble”, there are many different presentations of anxiety. A few of the more common versions besides generalized anxiety include: phobias, panic disorder, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The common thread with all of these conditions is that there is excessive or irrational worry that the individual is unable to control.
The good news about anxiety disorders is that for the most part they respond quite well to treatment. I have had a lot of experience in working successfully with OCD and PTSD, as well as other forms of anxiety. Similar to my work with depression, I work with the “whole person”, not just your mind and thoughts. I use a systems approach, working with you on both the causes (both past and present) and your contributions (both strengths and weaknesses), and an action plan that is doable.
Education is very important – You need to become an expert on your form of anxiety. If you educate yourself on your version of angst, are honest and focused in therapy, and do your homework, you will experience substantial improvement. Doing homework between sessions will be essential for you to progress and achieve lasting results.
Often, but not always, medication can be very helpful. Most people are surprised to learn that if medication is used, the first choice for treatment of anxiety is usually an antidepressant as these medications can be used long term, with less side effects and no concerns for tolerance or addiction. I find that clients are also surprised to discover that as we work together, depression is almost always present along with the anxiety. I tell people that anxiety and depression are cousins – we don’t often see one without the other, but depression is more apt to be hidden.
“Gosh, what a relief it was to learn that I wasn’t going crazy and that the panic that I had been experiencing had a remedy. Kathleen educated me about anxiety and helped me to learn the tools to manage the awful feelings that I had been struggling with for so long.” Mike, age 39