Counseling For Anxiety Disorders

Oakland | Berkeley | Alameda

San Franciso Bay Area | CA

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the feeling of fear or worry we get when we believe something bad or negative will occur in a situation.  This feeling can also be described as nervousness. Hence, the phrase, “nervous nelly” which is used to describe someone who is unusually anxious.

Anxiety is a complex physiological and emotional response that occurs naturally with living organisms.  We have anxiety built into our central nervous system for our survival and protection. We can also learn to be anxious as a result of our experiences in life.  

Anxiety can be both helpful and not so helpful.  Helpful anxiety enables us to make good decisions to keep us safe and away from danger.  Anxiety that is not helpful can result in analysis paralysis where you become stuck trying to make a decision but cannot or we avoid activities that we want to do or need to do.

Our central nervous system through which our anxiety operates can go “offline” or not work as intended.  Another way to view this, is that anxiety overtakes our central nervous system causing us to engage in activities that are unproductive, unhelpful and even dangerous.  


The biggest symptom that anxiety has overtaken our central nervous system is that we engage in avoidance of activities that we want to do or need to do.  There are many reasons why anxiety would overtake our central nervous system and cause it to go offline or not work as intended.

As you have read anxiety is a normal part of life.  However, when your nervous system has been overtaken by anxiety your quality of life can be quite bad.  Untreated problematic anxiety can have an extremely negative impact on your ability to perform at school, work, socially and your relationships can suffer greatly.

 

I provide effective anxiety treatment through counseling to help you learn to manage your anxiety.

Counseling for Anxiety Disorders - How I can help you

There are two parts to anxiety treatment:
Part 1: Anxiety Symptom Reduction

This part of the anxiety counseling involves:

  1. Identification of your anxiety symptoms.

  2. Learn to understand your anxiety by identifying the situations and circumstances that result in unwanted anxiety.

  3. I teach you specific concrete skills and techniques designed to reduce your anxiety symptoms.

  4. You practice and integrate these skills and techniques designed to reduce your anxiety symptoms in your daily life outside of counseling sessions.
     

Part 2: Understand the underlying emotional processes that contribute to your anxiety disorder

This part of anxiety counseling involves:

  1. Understanding the historical nature of your anxiety disorder.

  2. Exploring your past and childhood to identify themes and events that impacted your central nervous system and helped to create your anxiety disorder.

  3. Engage in processes that heal your central nervous system and bring it back "online" and have it function as intended.

  4. Integrate your new found skill sets, knowledge and insights to have the quality of life that you truly want.

 

 

How long will anxiety counseling take?

It truly depends on the complication level of your anxiety.  Anxiety disorders are very treatable if you’re open and willing to do lots of hard work.  One of the biggest challenges of treating anxiety disorders is that anxiety disorders tend to “fight back.”  Many people spend time fighting with their anxiety.  I proceed instead, through a different route of helping you to understand the role of anxiety in your life and coming up with new effective ways to manage your life from a compassionate and generous perspective.

How much does an anxiety counseling session cost?
Click fees to find out more and what you get for your fee.

Examples of helpful naturally built in anxiety in our central nervous system:

You’re walking in the forest and you see a very large snake.  You immediately stop.  Anxiety through our central nervous system helps you to assess the situation ensure that the snake is not coming in your direction and that you’re not in danger. The moment you see the snake to stopping occurs in a fraction of a second. This is anxiety working in a helpful way to keep you safe.

You are about to cross the street, you step off the curb into the street and you see a car coming at a high rate of speed.  You stop and step back onto the curb. This is another example of helpful built in anxiety.

Examples of how our experiences teach us to be anxious in a helpful way:

You are walking along the street and as you pass a house a large dog starts barking and you see it running towards you but then the dog stops several feet away because it is securely leashed and is unable to reach the side walk.

Although you may be afraid that the large could dog harm you, you learn that this dog is on a leash that prevents it from reaching the sidewalk.You are shopping in the store and you are unclear about the price of an item.  You worry that you may not have enough money to purchase the item.

You find a scanner in the store scan the item to get the price before you head to the check out lane. If the item’s price is within your budget you decide to purchase the item.  You learn to check the price of an item at the scanner in order to address the anxiety or worry that you do not have enough money to purchase the item.

When anxiety becomes problematic:

Anxiety can become quite unhelpful and disruptive to our lives.  When we have frequent and large doses of unhelpful anxiety or frequently experience anxiety when there is no need for it, the quality of our lives can quickly deteriorate in to avoidance, fear, worrying and intense negative thoughts.  Our ability to navigate relationships and function becomes like trying to avoid landmines.

Anxiety responses when we are or believe we are in danger:

A fundamental anxiety response to danger is known as the “flight or fight response.” However, there are actually three responses that make up “flight or fight.” These nervous system responses are built into our very nature for survival.

  1. FREEZE:
    If we remain still the danger will not see us.  Think of the scene in Jurassic Park when T-Rex first appears and the character of Alan says “Don’t move.  If you don’t move he can’t see us.”

  2. FLIGHT:
    Run as fast as you can from the danger and hopefully you will escape. Think of the scene of the giselle running away from the lion that you see on NatGeo Wild.

  3. FIGHT: If the danger catches up to you fight for your life. Think of the scene of the zebra kicking and making noise as the lions try to take it down.​

 

This really should be called the “freeze, flight or fight response.”   When anxiety has overtaken our nervous system our “freeze, flight, fight response” system typically does not work as intended.  There are many reasons that can cause anxiety to over take our nervous system which can result in lots difficulty living and enjoying life on a day to day basis.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Emotional symptoms of anxiety include but are not limited to:

  • Feelings of dread

  • Thinking something bad will happen

  • Irritability

  • Scanning for danger

  • Unexplained explosions of apparent anger

 

Physical symptoms of anxiety include but are not limited to:

  • Dizziness

  • Sudden diarrhea or urination

  • Sweating

  • Shaking

  • Racing heart

  • Knots in the stomach

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

This is described as the excessive worry about just about everything that occurs in one’s life.  The person worries  that something bad or negative will occur with school, work, money, family, friends, their health without any actually basis or evidence that something will happen.

Social Anxiety Disorder

This is described as the excessive worry of being judged or made fun of in social situations. This is also known as social phobia.

Specific phobias:This is fear of specific objects, things or situations such as acrophobia - fear of heights, pteronophobia - fear of feathers or dental phobia - fear of going to the dentist.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
This is described as the unwanted, intrusive and unwelcome thoughts that the person is unable to get out of their heads.  This is the obsessive part or the obsessions.  The person then engages in ritualistic behaviors, the compulsions.  These behaviors often appear ridiculous and meaningless but they are an attempt by the person to get rid of the unwanted thoughts and ease their anxiety.

 

Panic Attack

The sudden unexpected intense feeling of discomfort that something really terrible is about to happen or will happen to the person. The intensity of feeling is reached within minutes and the person feels as if they will die or have a heart attack. Panic attacks are accompanied by several symptoms but not limited to hyperventilation, shaking or trembling, heart palpitations, chills and sweats. Many people who live with panic attacks are are ashamed of it and have not told anyone they experience panic attacks also known as anxiety attacks.

 

Agoraphobia
Many people who experience panic attacks begin to avoid the place(s) where they experienced a panic attack and believe another panic attack might occur such as garages, malls, movie theaters and other public spaces.  This is called agoraphobia.  About 1/3 of people who experience panic attacks develop agoraphobia which can be very debilitating as the person reduces the situations and spaces that are viewed as safe and where they believe a panic attack would not occur.


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

After a person experiences an extremely negative negative event also known as a traumatic event or experienced trauma the person’s central nervous system works on healing itself.  These events include the experience of helplessness and that the person would die.  A normal part of the healing process of the central nervous system’s healing includes intrusive memories of the event, flashbacks or nightmares.  Most people recover from traumatic events.

However, there are times when the central nervous system is not able to heal itself and the person develops PTSD. The time period is at least 30 days after event before PTSD can be considered as an option.  PTSD is a complicated response to a traumatic event in which the central nervous system has gone offline in very extreme ways.  PTSD wreaks extreme havoc on the person’s life and their relationships. PTSD can result from traumatic events such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, rape, war, terrorist activities, sudden death of a loved one or finding out about an affair.  A person may have PTSD for years which is known as chronic PTSD.  A person’s PTSD may stem from multiple sources past, present and ongoing resulting in complex PTSD. PTSD must be treated by an expert and is highly unlikely resolve on its own.​

PHOTO DISCLAIMER: This site makes use of licensed stock photography. All photography and photos are for illustrative purposes only.  All persons depicted are models and does not imply a mental health diagnosis.

 © 2019 by John Edwards.