Therapy for Anxiety

Anxiety can make us feel like the world is spinning around us. Learn how to slow the spin and break the vicious fear-avoidance cycle.

Dr. Parke is currently offering online teletherapy appointments

Anxiety That Sends You Spinning

People who suffer from anxiety are often keenly, painfully aware, of the seemingly never-ending spin cycle they are stuck in. It's as though there is a continuously refilling backlog of things to worry about--school, relationships, work, social events--and even when one of those circumstances passes by in time, it's as though it just made room for a new one to take its place. The mind becomes a theatre of worst-case scenarios playing out in any number of imaginative ways. Although anxiety and depression are called the "common colds" of mental health, that unfortunately means that many people are suffering needlessly from anxiety that can reach excruciating levels.

The Roots and the Fruits

It's normal for us humans to experience anxiety from time to time as part of our human experience. However, when anxiety is pervasive across many aspects of life, when it is intense enough to cause you serious distress, when it affects your school or work or relationships, this is sometimes referred to as generalized anxiety. 

With generalized anxiety, the anxiety and worry seem to hold you firmly in their grip, and they affect the way you think, feel, behave, interact with others socially, and experience your body. Your thinking may become very worry-oriented and focused on anticipatory anxiety about what's coming up next in the calendar. Your feelings become a wash of less, more, or a lot anxious--sometimes masking your true colors of emotion like happiness, fear, excitement, shame, embarrassment, or sadness. You may notice that your behavior becomes avoidant, meaning you steer clear of situations that provoke your anxiety so that you don't have to face them. This is known as the anxiety-avoidance cycle, and unfortunately it only tends to feed both the anxiety and the avoidance. You may find that you turn to others for reassurance but, no matter what they do or say, they're not able to fully comfort you out of the anxious thoughts. Some of the most distressing symptoms of anxiety are physiological ones: difficulty breathing, chest pain, stomach or digestive discomfort, headaches, pounding heart, difficulty sleeping, muscle tension, fatigue, etc.

How Can Therapy Help?

Therapy can help by providing a safe and encouraging space for you to relax, let down your guard, and start facing some of this anxiety head-on to show it who's boss! Once someone feels comfortable in therapy with me, I gently walk them through the process of untangling the anxiety-avoidance cycle. I tend to use cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is the approach that current research suggests can be most helpful. Here are some steps involved:

  • Psychoeducation: learning about what anxiety is and how it affects people
  • Coping skills training: learning what relaxes you and how to have more positive self-talk (your inner voice)
  • CBT triangle: understanding your own patterns of thoughts, feelings, and avoidance behavior
  • Cognitive restructuring: recognizing distorted thought patterns and modifying them to so that thoughts are more helpful and accurate
  • Problem-solving: learning to identify a specific life problem, generate some solutions, choose one to try as an experiment; then try try again!
  • Gradual exposure: helping you face feared situations little by little so that you can gain confidence tackling them

These steps all need to occur in a therapeutic process with someone you can trust. It's not an overnight cure, and the process takes time, but it's totally worth it to reach that light at the end of the tunnel! Imagine being able to ride the waves of life with more peace and stability, rather than feeling tossed around by worry waves regarding every circumstance that seems to come your way.

Some Next Steps

  •  Check out my blog to learn more about anxiety and its treatment
  •  Contact me to inquire about therapy for anxiety
Photo credit: Shahadat Rahman on Unsplash

Dr. Parke is currently offering online teletherapy appointments

Seeking Relief?

Download my free Coping Checklist, with 68 coping skills you can try today

Let's Keep In Touch!

Receive free mental health tips via email
© 2023 Jackie Parke, Psy.D. All Right Reserved.