5 Signs That You Might be Struggling with Anxiety

It’s normal to feel anxious from time to time. Perhaps you get a bit nervous speaking in front of people or going on a job interview. But for some people, anxiety becomes a frequent and forceful occurrence that completely takes over their lives.

Since anxiety comes in many forms, for instance panic attacks, phobias and social anxiety, it can often be difficult to tell if what you’re experiencing is “normal” or has crossed the line into a mood disorder.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may want to speak with a counselor who can help you cope with your anxiety.

Excessive Worry

General anxiety disorder (GAD), the broadest type of anxiety, is characterized by excessive worry. People with GAD worry too much about everyday things, both big and small. But what constitutes “too much worry?”

With GAD, people are plagued with persistent, anxious thoughts most days of the week. This anxiety can become so overwhelming it interferes with their daily life. If you are worrying to a degree that you have trouble doing daily tasks and are suffering with your emotions, it may be time to speak with a therapist.

Trouble Sleeping

Sleep issues such as falling asleep or staying asleep have been associated with a myriad of health conditions, both physical and psychological. It’s normal for people to have trouble sleeping from time to time. Perhaps you find yourself tossing and turning before a big job interview or giving a presentation.

However, if you find yourself night after night lying awake, anxious about specific problems (such as relationship problems or financial difficulties), or even about nothing in particular, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.

Muscle Tension

Anxiety disorders can often be accompanied by persistent muscle tension. Do you find yourself clenching your jaw or balling your fists throughout the day? You may have lived with this chronic muscular tension for so long you don’t even realize it anymore. While exercise can help relax muscles, therapy will get to the root cause of the anxiety.

Digestive Problems

While anxiety lives in the mind, it is often manifested in the body through chronic digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Our guts are very sensitive to emotional and psychological stress. Unfortunately, digestive upset can often make a person feel even more anxious.

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks can be a frightening experience. You are suddenly gripped with an overwhelming feeling of dread and fear. These are often accompanied by physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, racing heart, dizziness, and profuse sweating. Though not everyone who has an anxiety disorder will experience panic attacks, but those that do live in constant fear.

Anxiety disorders keep people from living a joyful and fulfilling life. Luckily there is help. A therapist can assist in uncovering the root cause of the anxiety and offer tools to cope.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.


3 Ingredients to a Happy Marriage

Have you ever wondered why some marriages last decades while others barely go two years? Why do some couples thrive and grow together while others crash and burn?

The secret? There are three secrets, actually; three ingredients to a happy and successful marriage. Without all three of these, many couples will struggle to remain connected and committed.

Communication

Communication is to a marriage what gasoline is to an automobile: without it, you’re not going anywhere. And the better the communication, the longer the “motor” will last.

The words we choose to connect with others are incredibly important. Use the right ones and you generate feelings of love, safety, and security. Use the wrong ones and your partner is apt to feel anger and resentment.

It is often said that HOW you say something is as important as WHAT you say, and in many ways, this is true. When you ask your spouse a question, is their answer thoughtful or dismissive? Do they say, “Yes, that sounds like a great plan,” or “Whatever?” Both are affirmative, but only the first sentence is positive and respectful.

But perhaps the most important factor of good communication is listening. Many marriages have been improved when one or more people learn how to be a good listener.

How exactly do you become a good listener? Two ways: Start caring more about your partner – when you care for someone, you are truly interested in what they have to say. Second, when they are speaking, don’t think about other things – don’t think about your day or what you’d like to have for dinner – don’t even think about how you’d like to respond to what your partner is saying, simply LISTEN to them. Give them your full attention.

The better listeners and communicators you both are, the better partners you can be to each other.

Know Yourself and Your Partner

The sad fact is, most people spend more time trying to understand how their smartphone or tablet works than how their own personality – or that of their partner -works. We’re all individuals with unique quirks and behaviors. The more we understand about ourselves and our spouse, the less conflict we’ll experience.

Put Each Other First

Happy and successful marriages are the ones where each person is putting their partner’s needs first. When both are doing this, all needs are being met. Problems arise when only one individual meets their partner’s needs. When this happens, one person is happy, the other is left out in the cold.

If, after reading this, you have become aware that your marriage is missing some of these critical ingredients, don’t be afraid to seek help from a therapist. Sometimes an impartial third party can help both individuals get their priorities straight.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.


4 Questions to Ask When Looking for a Family Therapist

Seeking the guidance of a therapist is a wonderful way to fix your family’s communication problems and start the process of healing. But selecting a family therapist can be a daunting task, particularly when you are already struggling with emotionally pain or anxiety.

To help you with your selection process, here are four questions you should ask when looking for a family therapist.

1.Should I Find a Provider that Takes Insurance or Cash Pay?

Therapy is as much a financial commitment as it is an emotional one, and not everyone will be able to pay out of pocket for counseling. That’s why it’s important to understand your funding options before you begin therapy and potentially wind up with a bill you can’t pay.

There are different advantages to insurance and cash pay.

When you pay cash for treatment, you have far more privacy. In fact, the only ones who need to ever know you are in treatment are you and your therapist. Also, when you pay cash, you are not forced to search for an in-network therapist, but rather have more options when it comes to selecting someone who specializes in an area you’re interested in. And, since many therapists offer clients a sliding scale, no one should assume they can’t afford to pay cash.

Using insurance to pay for therapy means having less options and privacy, but it is significantly cheaper to get care.

2. Do I Know Anyone Who Can Recommend a Good Therapist?

Often, some of the greatest connections and therapeutic relationships come from personal recommendations. Before you flip through the yellow pages or do a Google search, check with close friends and family to see if they can recommend a therapist in your local area. When you know that a close friend or family member feels safe with a specific counselor, it will help alleviate any anxiety during that first session.

3. What Are Our Goals?

Every family comes to counseling with their own unique set of hopes and expectations. Knowing your goals before you start therapy will help you and your therapist know what you expect from the entire process. Before you attend that first session, sit down as a family and think about what you hope to gain from your time in therapy.

4. Do We Have Any Specific Preferences in a Therapist?

Do you have any preferences when it comes to the gender of your therapist? For many, gender doesn’t matter, but for some families, especially those with young children, having a female counselor over a male, or vice versa, may have a positive influence on the counseling process.

Do you want your therapist to specialize in a specific disorder or an addiction?

How about their trainings and background?

All of these factors can play a part in the process of choosing the right counselor for you.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.


Why People Misunderstand Anxiety

Did you ever play the game called “telephone” growing up? One kid whispered a secret message into the ear of the kid next to him. That kid then whispered the “same” message into the ear of the kid next to her. On and on each kid would whisper the message around the circle until you came to the last kid, who would then announce the secret message aloud.

Often the final message sounded nothing like the original message. That’s because every person has their own way of hearing and sharing information. Sometimes it’s accurate – sometimes it’s not.

In this way, you could say that language is a necessary evil. Without it we would not be able to share ideas and information with each other. But when each person has their own language filters, information can become skewed.

Personal information and language filters can make discussing and understanding anxiety disorders difficult. While we all experience anxious moments from time to time, 18% of adults in the United States are actually affected by a form of anxiety disorder.

But how many times have you heard a friend or a coworker say something like, “I was totally having a panic attack yesterday when you didn’t show up!” They weren’t actually having a panic attack, they were merely concerned you were late.

When everyone assumes they have an issue with anxiety, they believe they have first-hand experience of the disorder and therefor know what it is. But using certain language that may or may not be accurate to convey a common feeling (ie – being nervous before a job interview) is not the same thing as truly knowing something.

Panic Disorder VS Social Anxiety

There are two main types of anxiety disorder and for this discussion, it’s important to make the distinction between each.

Panic Disorder

People who have been diagnosed with and suffer from panic disorder believe very strongly that the “panic attacks” they experience mean something is physically very wrong with them. For instance, many sufferers believe they are having a heart attack. Some may believe the dizziness and shortness of breath is a result of some serious and undiagnosed illness such as a brain tumor.

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

People with social anxiety disorder experience anxiety when faced with social situations. They do not believe their anxiety is related to an illness or disease, yet have little control over their fear of social interactions. Their anxiety becomes debilitating when the person feels they may be singled out, embarrassed or ridiculed.

People who suffer from social anxiety disorder will do anything to alleviate their fear. This means decreasing the amount of social interactions they have on a daily basis as much as possible. This disorder negatively impacts the person’s ability to emotionally connect with others, and holds them back in their career and academic life.

Because of language discrepancies, those who don’t have an anxiety disorder sometimes believe they do, while those that do may assume they don’t.

The main point to get across here is this:

It is normal to feel anxious, fearful and worried from time to time. But feeling anxiety on a daily basis, to the point where you are concerned for your physical health or are compromising your career and personal relationships is not normal.

Anxiety Disorders Are Treatable

No one should have to live with a debilitating anxiety disorder. The good news is, anxiety disorders are treatable. A therapist can help to uncover the root cause of the fear and provide tools and strategies to cope.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.


Top 5 Ways to Reduce Anxiety

It’s rare that any of us will get through life without experiencing anxiety at some point. But some people have the burden of dealing with anxiety on a daily basis. Whether it’s over something big or insignificant, anxiety stops us from living a normal life full of joy and potential.

Here are 5 ways you can begin reducing your anxiety:

1. Recognize You Are in Control

When you are in the grips of anxiety, it feels very much like it has total control over you. But the reality is, you are in control. While external events can trigger our emotions, ultimately, we have the choice whether we feel those emotions or not. So the good news is, you don’t have to suffer with anxiety, you simply have to decide to show it who’s really boss.

2. Stay Busy

The worst thing you can do when you feel anxiety coming on is to obsessively think about it. It is much better to do something, anything, and stay busy. You could do the dishes, vacuum or work in the garden. The more you can focus your attention away from worrying and toward something that is calming and even joyful (gardening not vacuuming!) the easier time you’ll have of waiting out the anxiety storm.

3. Move Your Body

Exercise is a great way to alleviate the muscle tension that goes along with chronic anxiety. Plus, exercise releases feel good chemicals in your body like serotonin. But don’t sweat it, you don’t have to do a grueling workout at the gym to gain these benefits. Just a half hour a day of walking, biking, swimming or yoga can significantly help reduce your anxiety.

4. Start a Gratitude Journal

Get into the habit of writing down three to five things you are grateful for each night before retiring. This is a simple way to train your mind to focus on all of the good that surrounds you.

5. Speak with a Professional

The cure for any physical or psychological ailment is to get to the root cause of it, not simply manage the symptoms. A therapist can help you access your inner world to uncover what is triggering your fear and also offer coping tools and strategies.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.


Create Peace in Your Marriage and End the Fighting

As a marriage-friendly therapist, I am saddened by the number of couples I work with who are trapped in a cycle of arguing, conflict, and unhappiness. How did this happen? At one time, they believed the other was the source of happiness and joy, now they are viewed as the cause of pain, suffering, and misery. Want to break out of this vicious cycle once and for all. Give me a call today to take the first step to returning to living the marriage you always dreamed of.


Learn How ACT can Help You Feel Better Quickly

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, called ACT, as in “I’m not a passive person, I’m ready to ACT!” Why? Well, because ACT is an action-oriented model of therapy that enables people to stop over-thinking and over-analyzing their thought and getting stuck in feelings like, fear, anxiety, panic, anger, depression, and more that bog them down and destroy their self-confidence, relationships, jobs and careers, athletic performance, academic studies, and more. Think about a time when you felt stuck, maybe it was because you weren’t doing well in school, and you thought things like, “I’m not smart enough to learn this.” “I’ll never graduate and I’ll be stuck flipping burgers!”. You may have spent hours and hours beating yourself up daily with these kinds of thoughts, and the feeling of sadness, failure, frustration, and defeat that you felt.  Did it help you study harder, be more focused, overcome your self-doubt, or feel more confident and happier? Probably not. Many people find that pattern of thinking invariably leads to poor performance, low grades, dropping out before failing, discouragement, and often depression.

ACT teaches a totally different method of getting unstuck that can quickly mobilize you to take positive steps towards success, instead of constantly shooting yourself down.  ACT is a type of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that teaches many similar principles, but ACT has been shown in numerous studies to be superior to CBT in helping people get the results they desire more quickly that with CBT.  As a practitioner of CBT, RET, DBT, and now ACT, I can personally say with confidence that you will agree with me when you decide to make a difference in your life for the better and work with me.

I am accepting new clients, so call me today to schedule an appointment!