Please note: I am accepting new online clients during this COVID crisis. Please contact me for a free consultation.
Do you find that your thoughts are racing – racing through lists of things to do or potential catastrophic outcomes?
Are you having a difficult time getting to sleep or staying asleep?
Are you spending more time worrying than usual? Does it feel like your worry intrudes into your thoughts? Is it disrupting your day?
Take a look at your hands – are you biting your nails or picking at your cuticles more than usual?
Do you feel exhausted by the overwhelm of the quarantine and COVID crisis?
Are you having physical symptoms of your anxiety: stomach pain, muscle fatigue, a larger appetite, or no appetite at all?
Do you notice your heart racing even while resting?
If you answered yes to these questions you might be experiencing anxiety. In truth – all of us are feeling anxious right now. It is completely normal to be worried, anxious and scared about what is happening – to our towns, our economy, our jobs and our health.
But what if your worry has taken on a life of its own? For some people, their body’s response to normal anxiety is larger and bigger. They feel like they are having a heart attack; they can’t sleep well and have difficulty concentrating due to the panic they feel.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is like a fire alarm for your body. It is triggered when you sense danger. Imagine a bus veering off the road and onto the sidewalk – directly toward you. If you saw or heard this bus your fire alarm would go off. This alarm would warn you that you are in danger and need to react immediately. After one of your senses notices a danger, your body then sends out adrenaline and cortisol to help prepare you to run from or fight the danger.
Once your fire alarm goes off, or once the adrenaline is in your system, your body is ready to protect itself from danger. In preparation, your digestive system shuts down (you don’t need today’s lunch to help you fight the bus); your blood pools to your core resulting in your hands and feet going numb; you begin to pant or take shallow breaths resulting in your oxygen levels going down; and you become hyper aware of your surroundings in order to identify the danger. I am describing a panic attack. While this feels awful, it is a very important survival mechanism that protects us. We don’t want to lose our fire alarm – it alerts us to danger.
For many people, once the bus has passed by, they return to a normal adrenaline level and will feel tired but calm. However, for someone suffering from anxiety, they might never feel like the bus left. They might keep feeling like the danger is right in front of them – and the panic, adrenaline and cortisol keep coming.
One added point for anxiety – human beings have amazing brains. Our brains can sense and intuit not only physical dangers approaching (a bus) but also emotional dangers. When one of our senses notices that there is a potential for us to feel an intolerable feeling – it triggers the fire alarm. We can feel the same level of panic about a feeling that we have for a physical threat. Intolerable feelings include: failure, shame, love, anger or disappointment. For some of us, when we touch on a feeling that we don’t know we can survive – we have an overwhelming reaction or a panic attack.
There are also some people whose bodies dump adrenaline and cortisol very easily. Their anxiety is due to biology; it is how they were born. It is important to talk with a trained mental health professional to understand your anxiety, where it stems from and the best way to treat it. A professional can help you figure out if it is your biology or your experience with big emotions.
Is anxiety normal?
Yes, it is completely normal to feel anxious during stressful periods in our lives. For many, anxiety is motivating and drives them to find solutions and reach goals. It is when your anxiety gets in the way of you living the life you wish to live, that you should consider treatment. If your worry is getting in the way of your relationships, work, goals or health, then please consider a consultation with a trained mental health professional to learn how to treat your anxiety. Please note that I am able to provide anxiety treatment using online therapy.
I have always been a worrier – I don’t think I can change.
Many people who suffer with anxiety don’t feel there is any way to change. They have felt the extra worry or fear since they were young. It is important to know that we are not born knowing how to tolerate intolerable feelings. We hopefully learn this skill from our parents. But if we did not have parents who knew how to cope with their own worry or fear, or perhaps struggled with their own anxiety – we might not have been taught how to tolerate these feelings. We might feel we have no choice except to suffer and worry. The good news is that there are many ways to deal with anxiety – through talk therapy, learning new coping skills, medication, as well as through alternative healing.
How is therapy for anxiety different from other therapy?
My focus in anxiety treatment is on tolerating intolerable feelings. However, this is also a focus on my trauma therapy, depression therapy as well as couples counseling. My work is always client focused – so we will focus on your goals and the outcomes you need.
Can therapy help my anxiety?
Yes. I have worked with clients for over 20 years and have seen incredible results with anxiety levels in clients. Please know that there is relief and help. While I don’t have a magic pill to get rid of your anxiety overnight, I know that we can devise a treatment plan to help you uncover the causes of your anxiety, to tolerate the intolerable feelings and find relief.
What if my partner is struggling with anxiety but won’t come to therapy?
I have many couples who come to see me for couples counseling when the real issue is anxiety or depression in one partner. I am able to shift the focus of our work from how the anxiety or depression impacts you both as a couple to how it specifically impacts your partner. I use gentle humor and science based research to introduce the potential of individual support. Please note: if I am working with a couple, the couple is my client. Because of this, I won’t be able to work with one of you as an individual client. However, I know many wonderful therapists and can help you with a referral.
Do you offer online therapy?
Yes, I am able to provide both individual and couples counseling using online therapy. It is a wonderful resource for our work as we all shelter at home and are safer at home.
What to do now?
Please contact me for a free consultation so we can talk about your anxiety and potential treatments. I am able to provide anxiety treatment using online therapy. I look forward to meeting you. Learn more about individual counseling with Ashley.