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Anxiety counselling


Anxiety disorders are not just a matter of being too anxious. Anxiety is normal and moderate levels are often beneficial for improved performance. Even quite severe levels of anxiety can be experienced as normal when they are consistent with the demands of the situation (e.g. you are being chased by a person with a gun). People with anxiety disorders don’t just complain of being too anxious too often, they seek help with specific and recurring fears that they recognise as irrational and that significantly impact their everyday lives.

Panic and anxiety occur when we have an extreme and out-of-control response to what others would consider an ordinary and nonthreatening situation. While these experiences feel overwhelming and terribly distressing, they are very treatable and are amongst the most common issues I see in my practice.

Symptoms of Generalised Anxiety

Generalised anxiety is characterised by a chronic sense of worry and unease.The worry is typically out of proportion to the actual circumstances, exists through most areas of a person’s day-to-day life and is experienced as difficult to control. The anxiety and worry are described as generalised, as the content of the worry can cover a number of different events or circumstances, and the physical symptoms of anxiety are not specific and are part of a normal response to threat. Anxiety symptoms may be:
  • Feeling restless or constantly on edge
  • Constant worry
  • Feeling constantly tired
  • Difficulty concentrating or having your mind going blank
  • Feeling irritable most of the time
  • Tense or sore muscles
  • Having difficulty falling or staying asleep

Symptoms of a panic attack

A panic attack typically comes on suddenly and lasts for a short time (5 to 30 minutes). While it may be triggered by a particular stressful event, a panic attack can be unpredictable and occur even while you are asleep. You may experience it only once or as often as several times a day. Attacks often begin after an obvious trigger (a frightening event, thought, or memory, for instance), but they may also seemingly occur for no reason. Symptoms usually include:
  • Increased heart rate
  • Profuse sweating
  • Trembling hands or the whole body
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Feeling of choking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
  • Feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Chills or hot flashes
Panic attacks are relatively common, with approximately a third of all people experiencing at least one panic attack in their life. Because of the severity and distress of the physical symptoms, many people will go to a hospital, thinking they are having a heart attack when they first begin. One of the most effective ways to reduce the intensity of panic is to modify your breathing as soon as you notice the first signs.

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively in social situations and in interactions with other people. Situations that may trigger social anxiety include dates, job interviews, parties, business meetings, and public speaking. It can be a very disabling state and leave you feeling incredibly deflated. If you suffer from social anxiety, you most likely have a very critical inner voice that becomes overwhelming during social interactions. The critical voice biases your interpretation of reality, painting everything about  yourself in a negative light. For this reason, treatment for social anxiety focuses on the development of a more healthy and balanced inner voice that can counteract your harsh inner critic.

Treatments for Anxiety

Medication targets the physical symptoms of anxiety so that you can function and feel physically better. It cannot, however, address the underlying emotional and psychological causes or help you learn new coping skills to use in future situations. In certain cases, particularly when you are experiencing very high levels of anxiety or intense panic attacks, medication can be essential as a starting point for treatment. Even then, it is still important that you learn new strategies that allow you to address worry distortions and stop the destructive cycle of anxiety.

The good news is that anxiety in all its forms is one of the most highly treatable mental health conditions. Due to its impact on all areas of a person’s life, including relationships, sleep, eating, work, and study, it is one of the most common issues that brings people to therapy. I use a combination of evidence-based approaches that have been demonstrated as highly effective for anxiety such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Relaxation.

Effective therapy can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety relatively quickly and includes a range of interventions such as challenging worry thought, lifestyle adjustments, exercise, and relaxation. In conjunction with counselling, I may employ stress-management techniques in session because they are incredibly effective in countering the strong physical component of the anxiety response. These include breathing exercises, meditation, autogenic relaxation, progressive-muscle relaxation and visualisation.

If you think you may benefit from counselling with me, contact me to find out more or arrange an appointment.

Servicing the areas of Malvern, Armadale, Prahran, Glen Iris, Caulfield North and surrounding suburbs.