Psychological Treatment of Anxiety

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What are anxiety triggers

In general, the experiences that set off anxiety can be many things such as tests, performing in front of other people, closed spaces, heights, health worries, or remembering bad experiences, to name a few. Or it may feel like the anxiety just appears without any noticeable outside triggers. People's experience of anxiety is personal, real, and quite unique. There are, however, some common features.

Symptoms of Anxiety

If you have anxiety, you may be experiencing some or all of the following:

  • Restlessness
  • Feeling keyed up or on edge
  • Difficulty controlling the nervousness
  • Difficulties concentrating or remembering
  • Irritability
  • Easily fatigued
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep difficulties

Therapy for anxiety

Treatment for anxiety may be thought of as consisting of 3 steps:

  1. Diagnosis of the specific type of anxiety you are struggling with. This is very important, as it guides the specific treatments we will offer. This does not, however mean that having  specific label is important at all. But the clinician needs to have a clear understanding of history, past and current symptoms, changes over time, triggers and specific emotional and thought reactions.
  2. Education about what anxiety is and how it functions. Gaining insight into how we experience, when we experience, and how strongly we experience the anxiety, is a first step to deeper understanding of what can be done, and how you can begin to have a different experience. Understanding how emotions are generated and what external and internal factors contribute to the anxiety, are useful in the process towards gaining insight and perspective on this often very debilitating disease.
  3. Focus on changing thought patterns that contribute to the continuation of the anxiety. This last one is a complicated and quite idiosyncratic process, that can allow you to first gain insight into your thinking patterns, and to then start changing them real-time. Don't worry. We will take it one step at a time!

Homework is part of the treatment of anxiety

Bringing the thought patterns into clear understanding commonly shows the way towards helping you change them. We often do this through homework and in-session discussions about your thinking before, during and after a period of increased anxiety. We then work together towards replacing the self-defeating thinking patterns with more realistic and healthier thoughts.

Research suggests therapy

Anxiety is difficult to live with, and likely gets in the way in your career as well as personal life. Research suggests that anxiety is responsive to treatment, and strongly suggests psychotherapy as the first choice of treatment.