Anxiety Counselling

Many of us experience anxiety and stress daily. While a healthy amount of anxiety and stress can motivate us to work harder and become more productive, feeling excessively anxious over an extended period of time can prove to be detrimental to our mental and physical wellbeing. Feeling excessively anxious and worried can affect our day-to-day functioning, strain relationships with our loved ones, and reduce productivity and performance in school or at work.

There is a fine line between normal anxiety and unhealthy anxiety. Normal anxiety is usually a typical and natural response to stressful life events Sometimes, it can even push us to be more resilient and enhance our ability to self-regulate. However, normal anxiety starts to get unhealthy when it prevails for an extended period of time. Experiencing and managing unhealthy anxiety can be damaging to our health as it is both mentally and physically draining, leaving our bodies with little energy left for other activities.

If you or someone you know is experiencing excessive anxiety and worry that gets hard to control, consult a mental health professional as soon as you can. Book an appointment with us for either an online or an in-person counselling session.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

While anxiety can be generally defined as feeling intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about day to day encounters, there are many different types of anxiety disorders. Some of the more common ones include:

1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

GAD typically involves excessive anxiety and worry or apprehensive expectations about various different events or activities that are difficult to control and may interfere with everyday life. This may include feeling overly anxious or worried about work or school performance.

2. Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is categorized by frequent and unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack refers to a sudden surge of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within a couple of minutes. The cue or trigger for these panic attacks may not always be obvious.

3. Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

Social anxiety disorder usually involves marked fear or anxiety about one or more social situations where there is an exposure to the possibility of being scrutinized by others. Some examples of such social situations include social interactions (e.g. having a conversation), being observed (e.g. eating or drinking), and performing in front of others (e.g. giving a speech).

4. Specific Phobia

A phobia refers to marked fear or anxiety regarding a particular object or situation. Some examples of phobia include flying, heights, animals, receiving an injection or seeing blood. Encountering these phobic objects or situations will immediately trigger heightened levels of fear and anxiety.

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety

Though each of these anxiety disorders are different in many ways, there are some common symptoms that overlap across all anxiety disorders including:

  • Feeling intense fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation (phobic object or situation) that are difficult to control
  • Avoiding the phobic object or situation
  • Intrusive or obsessive thoughts
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling restless or frustrated
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Sleep disturbances including insomnia (difficulty sleeping) or hypersomnia (sleeping excessively)
  • Trembling, sweating, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, chest pain, dizziness or nausea in the case of a panic attack
  • Persisting body aches or tense muscles, headache or digestive problems

Causes of Anxiety

Anxiety can be caused by the presence of a single factor or even a combination of several different factors which may include:

1. Biological Factors

An excessive amount of certain chemicals in the body like cortisol, a stress hormone, can cause increased levels of anxiety. Reduced activity levels and performance of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain that reduces anxiety, can also cause increased levels of fear and worry.

2. Medical Conditions

Anxiety can often be related to underlying medical conditions that share similar symptoms and sensations such as heart diseases, heart arrhythmia, thyroid problems or respiratory disorders. Sometimes, the drugs used for other medical conditions may also play a role in increasing levels of anxiety.

3. Life Events

Many things in life cause a great deal of stress and anxiety on our mind and body. Stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one, starting or ending a relationship, having a child, losing a job or starting a new one or financial difficulties can cause increased levels of worry and anxiety.

Treatment for Anxiety

Some forms of treatment for anxiety include:

1. Therapy

A) Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective forms of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders. Generally, CBT focuses on teaching clients specific skills that can improve their symptoms and slowly return to the activities that have been avoided because of anxiety.

CBT is effective because it is collaborative, pragmatic and highly structured. In CBT, clients will work with their therapist to identify the problems that they are facing and explore solutions to overcome these problems by setting clear and achievable goals in a systematic manner.

The main goal of CBT is to stop negative cycles of thinking and behaving by slowly eliminating the things that make our clients feel bad, anxious or scared. CBT can help reduce clients’ negative thought patterns and learn to manage their difficulties better. Eventually, CBT aims to train clients to be able to cope with and overcome their anxieties without the help of a therapist.

B) Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy, which is a form of CBT, is mostly used with clients who experience phobia-related anxieties. Exposure therapy, as the name suggests, involves exposing clients to items and situations that cause anxiety, but anxiety that they feel they are able to tolerate. Generally, clients will be exposed to these anxiety-inducing objects or situations until they no longer feel as anxious for as long of a duration. Exposure therapy may take a few hours over the course of several sessions.

C) Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)has also been used extensively in the treatment of anxiety disorders. By controlling eye movements, EMDR directly influences how the brain processes information (i.e. anxiety-inducing thoughts), by reducing the intensity of those disturbing thoughts.

D) Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) emphasizes acceptance as a strategy for clients to cope with negative thoughts, emotions, symptoms, or situations. ACT also encourages clients to engage in increased commitment to healthy, constructive activities that uphold their own personal values or goals.

A main benefit of ACT is that it encourages clients to develop psychological flexibility – the ability to embrace thoughts and feelings when they are useful and to set them aside when they are not. This will allow clients to carefully react to their thoughts and emotions, and avoid engaging in impulsive actions.

E) Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) focuses on dialectical thinking. Dialectics refers to a philosophical stance in which two ideas or truths, that seemingly oppose one another, can coexist.

DBT can help clients deal with difficult emotions and teach them how to live in the moment, manage their emotions, and develop healthy ways to cope with stress. Research continues to suggest that DBT can help individuals deal with anxiety, stress, restlessness, irritability, fear, and excessive worry. Furthermore, DBT has been found to help clients improve on their emotion regulation, mindfulness techniques, decision-making, and increase their distress tolerance.

2. Support Groups

In support groups, many people who share similar goals and life experiences gather and create a healthy and positive environment for individuals to express their struggles and difficulties. Having a strong social support system is crucial for individuals with anxiety who may have trouble maintaining quality relationships with others. Support groups provide a safe space for interaction, and one gets to receive unbiased, helpful feedback.

3. Medication

The medications prescribed for anxiety generally include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-anxiety medication
  • Beta-blockers

How Anxiety Counseling Works

While the duration and frequency of the counselling sessions may vary based on the therapeutic intervention that you and your therapist have decided to adopt, most of our clients start to show improvements within 8 to 10 counselling sessions. This may sound like a long process for treatment, but you can be rest assured that our therapists at Incontact will be here with you at every step of the way. Anxiety counselling, as explained above, can adopt various methods such as CBT, exposure therapy, EMDR, ACT and DBT.

At Incontact, our therapists and counsellors can help you tackle and manage your anxiety effectively by choosing the therapeutic intervention that is best suited to your needs and interests. Using a heterogenous approach, our therapists combine several different concepts and theories that can help you achieve your mental health goals and make each session count.

We are a team of reputable, licensed therapists who attune to your specific needs and learning styles to help bring in permanent, long-term results and make an ever-changing impact on your life. Trained in forming sound relationships, our therapists act as enablers in your journey of self-development and empower you to become your best self.

Book an Appointment

Frequently‌ ‌Asked‌ ‌Questions‌

Answer: If you are experiencing excessive anxiety that is disrupting your day-to-day functioning and making you feel like you are losing control, consult a mental health professional as soon as you can. Book an appointment with us for either an online or offline therapy/depression counselling session.

Answer: By adopting the treatment methods described above, anxiety counselling will be able to help you identify the sources of your anxiety and teach you ways to manage them. During counselling for anxiety, you and your therapist will work together to uncover the problems you are facing, explore solutions for them and set goals – all of which can significantly reduce anxiety.