Worry is a universal experience, and in many ways, a useful and necessary one.
A little bit of worry primes us to avoid dangers and to do things that are important to us. When we are ‘worrying well’, worry helps us to take needed actions or solve problems or prepare for challenges, and then the worry recedes.
Worry becomes ‘anxiety’ when it is so intense, frequent, or persistent, that it disrupts or diminishes our ability to pay full attention to our activities and to enjoy our day-to-day lives. Anxiety about life’s uncertainties, about “what-if” scenarios, can turn into obsessive thoughts about common or unlikely potential risks and dangers in life, and can rob a person of confidence in their work, can damage relationships, and can profoundly diminish the joy of life.
Significant anxiety is associated not only with excessive worrying, but also with and overactive “fight or flight” system in the body, producing physical distress such as stomach upset, sleep disturbance, headaches, jaw-clenching, excessive sweating, or trembling.
Many times, anxiety expands to include anxiety-about-anxiety, that is, the feat that certain situations or activities will provoke the worry and physical distress symptoms, and the person’s concern that they will not be able to cope adequately with those symptoms. The anxious person may begin to avoid places, people, situations, and activities that they associate with the uncomfortable thoughts and sensations of anxiety. In this way, the person’s world may become increasingly limited; through this process of avoidance, anxiety can become a prison.
Successful treatment of anxiety assists a person to:
- Confront and cope more effectively with the built-in uncertainties of life.
- Respond differently to the ‘fight or flight’ sensations of anxiety.
- Develop strategies for healthy, limited worrying.
- Reduce or eliminate the “fear of fear” that is at the root of much anxiety.
- Re-focus and re-engage in what is truly important: your goals, your values, and your chosen activities.
Anxiety therapy involves a customized mixture of cognitive (thinking-related) and behavioral (activity-related) strategies, selected by you and your psychologist together and implemented in a gradual, step-wise fashion. Anxiety treatment may involve medications or may be purely psychotherapy-based, according to the needs and preferences of the client.
If you would like to discuss how we might work together to reduce the negative impact of anxiety in your life, please contact me for an initial, cost-free telephone consultation.
You may contact me at 303-475-7987.