Anxiety is the most prominent psychological disability in the United States. A healthy level of anxiety can serve a positive purpose for many individuals (i.e., academic success, an increased sense of conscientiousness & responsibility, etc). However, if you experience a level of anxiety that is persistent, seemingly uncontrollable, and overwhelming, it can be disabling. Not only is anxiety impairing in and of itself, but it can cause secondary difficulties such as insomnia and various long term health concerns. It is time to seek help from a psychologist regarding anxiety if you experience any of the following symptoms and they are impairing your daily functioning in any way.
- Constant worry that causes significant distress
- Avoiding social situations
- Panic attacks and/or fear of panic attacks
- Irrational fear/avoidance of an object/place
- Performing uncontrollable repetitive actions
I use a cognitive behavioral approach when working with clients who have anxiety disorders. Research has proven that this is the most effective modality in treating anxiety disorders. The goal of treatment is to reduce the anxiety by changing the way you think about it and as a result, altering your actions. Medication for anxiety is also helpful but is most effective when coupled with therapy.
PTSD is a type of Anxiety Disorder which occurs due to an individual experiencing or witnessing a life threatening event. The symptoms of PTSD can appear soon after the trauma took place or even months/years later. Some symptoms of PTSD include:
- Re-experiencing the trauma via flashbacks, nightmares, and recollections
- Avoiding people/places associated with the trauma
- Having difficulty concentrating or focusing
- Feeling easily irritated/angry
- Hyper-vigilance, being overly aware of potential dangers, feeling jumpy
In treating PTSD, I adhere to the use of cognitive behavior therapy. I employ cognitive tools to help my clients reframe their thoughts and cognitions regarding the trauma and their response to it. In addition, I also teach some relaxation techniques to help calm the intrusive thoughts.
Depression is a common disorder which is characterized by feelings of persistent sadness and lack of motivation. 17% of the population will experience major depression at some point in their lifetime. Although many individuals experience these feelings for short periods of time throughout their life, it is not considered to be a disorder unless it impacts one's ability to function on a daily basis. Some additional symptoms of depression include… - change in appetite
- change in sleeping patterns
- decreased energy/fatigue
- feelings of helplessness/hopelessness
- lack of pleasure from activities one used to enjoy
- feelings of worthlessness
- increased irritability/anger
- thoughts/plans of suicide or self-harm
My treatment plan for clients suffering from depression consists primarily of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). The goal of CBT is to replace negative and unproductive thought patterns with more realistic and useful ones. I also utilize some techniques from psychodynamic therapy when treating depression as a means of exploring the clients past and identifying events or experiences that gave rise to their current sense of the world and patterns of thought. When deemed appropriate, I will also refer clients to a psychiatrist to explore the option of medication in conjunction to therapy.