Shortness of breath. Racing heartbeat. Profuse sweating. Nausea. Lightheadedness. These are just a few of the common symptoms of anxiety. Whether you experience a full-blown panic attack or social anxiety or any of the other panic disorders, some of these symptoms may be part of your experience. A certain amount of anxiety is useful, helping us to be more focused and alert. Remember how you felt right before you took your first driver’s test? But sometimes we see danger when it really isn’t there and that can set off a cascade of problems.
With anxiety, our thinking patterns contribute to the symptoms and, often, the very things that we try to do to overcome the anxiety only make it worse. So, for example, if riding in a car makes you anxious because you think you’ll be in an accident, you may decide to avoid riding in cars altogether. While that might provide some relief in the short term, it doesn’t do anything for the long term. And, if you give up riding in a car, your belief that something bad will happen (i.e. an accident) remains and so does the anxiety.
Helping you with anxiety begins with a thorough evaluation to determine if anxiety treatment is the right course. As your anxiety therapist, I may use various anxiety scales to assist me in the initial phase. I will want to know what your goals for anxiety treatment are. Sometimes it is useful to have a physical exam by your primary care physician and I, as your anxiety therapist, will suggest this if I feel it would be useful. Cognitive behavioral techniques can be very useful when working with anxiety, for example, working with a Thought Record to deal with automatic negative thoughts. Additionally, learning breathing and relaxation techniques is very helpful in providing relief. The use of breathing techniques is a beautiful example of our mind-body connection! By focusing on breathing we can switch from sympathetic dominance (“fight or flight”) to parasympathetic dominance (“rest and digest”).
Helping you learn to understand your anxiety and your triggers and be comfortable and confident in using a variety of anxiety treatment techniques to address it allows for better management of anxiety in the future.
Contact my office in Evanston, Illinois today to make an appointment.