If you suffer from anxiety it can be a feeling many people don't understand. It's easy for friends and family to tell you to just stop worrying or thinking about whatever it is that you struggle with. Simply stopping your worrying is much easier said than done. For most people who struggle with anxiety it's something that has always been a problem to a greater or lesser degree. When you're anxious you are overcome with repetitive thoughts that follow a similar path, usually going to more and more negative places. These thoughts feel very much out of your control, like you can't get out of your own way. And that very much is what happens with anxiety. If you just allow your thoughts to continue you will end up feeling anxious and worried. The more you are caught up in these thoughts, the more your anxiety grows. This also happens if you are afraid of something. The more you fear it and avoid it, the more afraid of the thing you become. That is why many of the treatments for anxiety start by facing it in small doable ways that don't overwhelm you. For example, if you get anxious in social situations instead of avoiding them you purposely put yourself in manageable situations such as with a trusted friend who knows about your anxiety. As you get through these situations and can soothe yourself while in them, you go on to more challenging ones. Another component to treating anxiety involves challenging your underlying thoughts about a given situation. What is the absolute worst that could happen and how bad would that really be? If you are afraid you would lose your friends if you freaked out, would you really? And if you would are they truly friends? Would you turn your back on a friend that was overwhelmed with anxiety? Honestly facing these thoughts can help you change your beliefs about yourself or what would happen. It is not uncommon for anxiety to have it's seed in a real situation that may have happened when you were young. The automatic beliefs and thoughts associated with the anxiety can come from the age you were when it began. Examining these thoughts with the knowledge and experience you have as an adult can help immensely along with the repeated experience of facing an anxiety provoking situation and coming through it okay.
Sometimes there is a physiological component to anxiety. You may experience a rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath and other physical symptoms. These symptoms feel very real and can feel very similar to real medical issues. It may feel like pressure in you chest and may feel like a heart attack. It may feel like your heart is beating so fast it's going to come out of your chest. That is why it's always a good idea to make sure there are no underlying physical problems by talking to your doctor about any symptoms. If you've been examined by your doctor and they cannot find anything wrong it may be anxiety. Anxiety can become debilitating, making it hard for you to enjoy or participate in social situations, do the things you need to do or even leave your house in more severe situations. Anxiety is also something that usually worsens over time if it is not treated. There are techniques that can help such as the ones mentioned above. Many times anxiety has its roots in an initial experience that was truly frightening when it happened. Anything that reminds you of this experience can trigger that physiological response that is experienced as anxiety. Learning how to bring yourself back and sooth yourself is an important part of treating anxiety. What works for one person may not work for you. That is why its important to find someone to work with that can help you figure out what is best for you.
Finding a therapist who has training specifically in treating anxiety is crucial. Along with training, experience is just as important if not more so. That is because the more years of experience a therapist has working directly with clients the clearer the path to helping someone through this. Experience also helps you see what is working and what is not in terms of managing your anxiety. Make no mistake anxiety is something to be managed, there is no cure. It is seen as something that may always be there but that you find a way to lessen so that you can live your life more freely. I began my career as a therapist in 1993 treating those suffering from anxiety, whether as a result of losing their home when Hurricane Andrew hit Homestead, suffering mistreatment or abuse a child or living with an HIV diagnosis. In the two decades I have been practicing I have helped hundreds of clients trying to control their anxiety. Many have struggled with panic attacks that were severe and debilitating. Others shrunk their world to avoiding social situations, work and school. I have seen many of these courageous people face their anxiety and change their lives in profound ways. I have felt honored to be trusted to be a part of their healing. For all of these reasons I do believe I can help. I believe I have that road map to help you or your loved one manage your anxiety and find what works for you.