Anxiety is a normal part of life and its function is to keep you safe from potentially dangerous situations. However, anxiety can also become debilitating when it starts to interfere with your ability to cope and function with the daily tasks of life. You may even find yourself avoiding places and situations in order to prevent anxiety symptoms from manifesting. Rationally you know that you are not in “real,” danger, but emotionally you cannot stop the feeling that something could go very wrong.
Common anxiety signs and symptoms include: Feeling nervous, restless or tense, having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom, increased heart rate, breathing rapidly (hyperventilation), sweating, trembling, feeling weak or tired, trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry, difficulties sleeping, gastrointestinal (GI) problems, difficulty controlling worry, and the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety.
If your anxiety is keeping you scared, powerless and confused, it is time to reach out for support and get help. Our therapists will work with you to understand your anxiety symptoms and behaviours and tailor a treatment plan which meets your unique needs.
Your initial session will begin with your therapist exploring your background and your anxiety symptoms. After a through assessment a therapeutic plan will be established. Typically sessions can range from 8 to 12 sessions depending on the issues. More sessions may be required for more complex issues of anxiety.
An important therapeutic treatment for anxiety is a therapy called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT. Research has shown that CBT is a very effective treatment for managing and reducing anxiety in the long-term. CBT targets the way people think. Treatment typically focuses on education about the nature and causes of anxiety, changing unhelpful ways of thinking, and facing feared situations in a gradual and manageable way. CBT also targets how you construct your reality. In CBT therapy, the therapist will challenge your “should’s” or the rigid patterns you may have about meeting expectations of yourself and others. Often anxiety symptoms manifest when there is a difficulty meeting these expectations and avoiding your emotions.
Mindfulness-based therapy is often integrated within CBT treatment to help you become more self-aware of your emotional responses and the environment, and to compassionately accept them in the present-moment. Being aware of distressful body sensations and emotions, rather than trying to escape them, can be very helpful to reduce anxiety and to feel more in control.
We also use Emotionally Focused Therapy or EFT to address the deeper issues of anxiety. Emotionally Focused Therapy allows clients to vocalize and directly address their deep-rooted emotional pain, anxieties, and relational injuries with significant others. Through this work, clients eventually learn to self-soothe and transform their maladaptive coping mechanisms into healthier ones.
If your anxiety is based in a traumatic incident such as an accident, or from abuse or neglect experienced in childhood, EMDR therapy may also be a helpful therapy. There is clinical evidence that EMDR can treat mood and anxiety disorders, including depression, phobias, and panic disorder. EMDR may be particularly helpful in treating panic disorder, panic attacks, and agoraphobia when past traumatic experiences are contributing to current symptoms.