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Anxiety can be debilitating...
You’ve probably been feeling anxious for so long, that you've forgotten what true calm feels like. If you observe your shoulders, stomach, neck, and legs, you'll probably notice tension and tightness that have been there for longer than you can remember. You've noticed that you either avoid many things in life that could give you pleasure, or you do things that are required of you, but it takes tremendous effort to do so. You lay awake at night or delay getting out of bed in the morning because you wonder if you have what it takes to accomplish the daily tasks required of you. This is but a glimpse into the mind and body of an anxious individual.
You are Normal
The good news is that you are not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 20 percent of all Americans are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. And that’s just what is officially diagnosed. (The real number is likely far higher.) What most people don’t realize about anxiety, is that at its root, anxiety is a fundamental part and benefit of being human. Imagine you were standing in the African Wilderness, and a lion suddenly came charging toward you. In that scenario, being anxious (or on alert) is actually functional. If we didn't have that alarm bell go off, we would not fare well.
When we face a real or perceived threat, (from a lion attack to scoring well on an exam), our bodies go into “Fight or Flight”. This mode can help us survive a dangerous event. Think of it as a smoke alarm. The smoke alarm only becomes problematic when it goes off at the slightest hint of smoke or even from no smoke at all.
So How Do I Fix this broken smoke alarm?
Just like a broken smoke alarm can be fixed, so too can the anxious mind be mended. One popular evidence based approach in the anxiety therapy world is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Cognitive Behavioral therapy focuses on the relationship between our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. One of the major foundational principles of CBT is that negative feelings such as anxiety are rooted in negative automatic thoughts. These thoughts are called automatic, because if we don’t pay attention to them, they will zoom in and out of our head leaving a trail of anxiety in their wake. Throughout the course of therapy, you will gain mastery in identifying these distorted thinking patterns and learn various ways to modify and challenge these unhelpful thinking habits.
You may be thinking “great, but where do these negative automatic thoughts come from.”
Every negative automatic thought stems from a negative belief an individual has about themselves or the world around them. Let’s take Johnny for example. At the age of 6, Johnny was told by parents, friends and teachers that he was doing everything wrong. The sheer amount of negative talk caused Johnny to develop a negative belief about himself that he is always wrong and can never do anything right. This belief flows down into everyday life regardless of success or failure. If Jonny does well on a test, his mind tells him that “it was a fluke” or “not a real exam.” If Johnny fails an exam, then he reminds himself that he can’t do anything right.
This is where the deeper work of therapy comes in. When you meet with a therapist for a significant period of time, these core negative beliefs can shift into neutral or positive beliefs, positively affecting what you think, feel and do.
CBT is just one of the interventions used for anxiety therapy. An effective therapist will weave various other interventions such as Mindfulness, Informed Dialectical behavioral therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy into treatment in order to tailor therapy to your individual need.
What are all these other therapies and how do they help anxiety
There is a saying that goes, "Depression is in the past, Anxiety is in the future and the present is just the present." What mindfulness teaches us how to do is to contact the present moment. Through breathing, grounding and other ancient, yet effective techniques, an individual can be truly present. And when an individual is truly present and not living in the future, anxiety is powerless and calm reigns supreme.
But there are so many roadblocks to starting therapy.
Therapy is so expensive!
It’s true that therapy can be pricey. We at the Clarity Clinic try to offset the cost of therapy by being in network with numerous insurance companies such as BCBS, Aetna, United Health Care and Aetna.
Therapy can also be viewed as an investment in yourself or your relationship. When you invest in yourself and learn how to better manage and rid yourself of anxiety symptoms, it’s probable that you will do better in your career/profession as some of the self imposed limitations that have been created until now will no longer be present.
What if therapy makes my anxiety worse?
It’s a common and normal fear that “opening pandoras box” will unleash a slew of negativity and maybe just “keeping things the way they are would make things better.
While it’s true that sometimes it does have to get “darker before it gets lighter”, the vast majority of client’s report that after going through the initial discomfort, their overall quality of life skyrockets. Think of it like getting anesthesia before a root canal. The anesthesia is definitely uncomfortable and somewhat painful, but going throat a root canal without pain management would be incredibly painful for what would feel like an infinite amount of time.
Still Skeptical? That's OK!
It’s completely normal to feel some hesitance before reaching and seeking therapy. Therapy requires opening yourself and becoming vulnerable. Vulnerability is hard. You don’t have to do it all at once though as therapy is an overall gentle and gradual process.
Feel free to reach out!
If what you’ve read and learned so far has resonated with you, feel free to reach out for a free 15 minute consultation or to schedule an appointment.
Check out our blog below for some practical tips on managing anxiety!
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