- Difficulty with focus and concentration
- Sleep difficulties
- Psychomotor agitation (unintentional movement and restlessness)
- Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure in normally pleasurable activities)
The good news is that when you seek support to address either anxiety or depression, counselling can often help to resolve both, due to the overlap in symptoms. Decades of research support the effectiveness of counselling for anxiety and depression. Even if you feel unsure about what you’re experiencing, speaking to someone about your concerns can clarify what’s happening and set you back on the path to health and wellbeing.
Obsessive compulsive disorder
Post traumatic stress disorder
Mild to moderate depression
Effective counselling for anxiety and depression
Specialist anxiety and depression counsellors and psychologists
What happens when life looks okay on the surface, but everything feels terribly wrong? Anxiety is often characterised by feelings of uneasiness and heightened worry. It can niggle at the edges of your mind, sometimes leaving you in a near constant state of dread, fear or panic. Whenever you’re being threatened – or feeling stressed, pressured or vulnerable – anxiety is a completely normal response.
Often your body and mind will respond automatically to a stressful situation – your heart rate increases, breathing quickens, and your sympathetic nervous system releases a flood of stress hormones. Also know as the ‘fight or flight’ reaction, anxiety is a red flag that something is amiss. Once the stressful situation has passed, physical symptoms of anxiety usually dissipate. Yet for many people, anxiety lingers on long past the time it’s needed. If you’re experiencing a prolonged bout of anxiety that’s interfering with your ability to live your life on a day-to-day basis, counselling can be extremely beneficial.
Generalised anxiety and treatment
Anxiety can be a general emotional response, or it can be triggered by specific situations or events. Catastrophic thinking frequently occurs with anxiety, leaving you feeling like something awful may happen, or anticipating the worst case scenario in any given situation. You may feel preoccupied with everyday matters such as finances, work or your relationships, and experience compulsive worry and tension.
Common symptoms of generalised anxiety include:
- Frequent feelings of tension and worry
- Feeling unable to control the worry
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep difficulties
- Easily startled
- Feeling dizzy or faint
- Pounding heart, sweating, trembling
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle tension
- Chest and abdominal pains
- Hot flushes and/or cold chills
- Fear of losing control, passing out or dying
Generalised anxiety consistently interferes with your general mood, triggering dramatic emotional highs and lows. Although it is common to feel sad or moody from time to time, anxiety can result in these feelings occurring intensely, and over a substantial period of time. Sometimes it is difficult to explain the way you are feeling to others; anxiety often leads to social withdrawal and isolation if left untreated.
Effective treatment for generalised anxiety
There are a number of evidence-based counselling techniques that are highly effective in addressing the symptoms and causes of generalised anxiety, such as Mindfulness-Based Therapy and Narrative Therapy. However, Clinical psychologist Dr. Pim Cuijper’s 2014 meta-analytic review of the effectiveness of different treatments for generalised anxiety suggests that Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy is the most effective treatment known for generalised anxiety, surpassing the efficacy of other treatments (eg medication, relaxation training) in both the short and long-term.
Social anxiety is the most common form of anxiety, affecting 1 in 10 Australians at some point in their lives. It is an extremely debilitating form of anxiety, as the fear of doing something to embarrass or humiliate yourself in public can cripple your ability to enjoy life and your interactions with other people. Common social phobias include public speaking, performing, eating and drinking, using public restrooms, dating, and general social encounters.
Symptoms of social anxiety include:
- Extreme, apprehensive self-consciousness
- Intense fear of being watched, judged or criticised by others
- Persistent worry about social interactions (eg conversations, meeting people or performing)
- Avoidance of social situations (including time off work or school)
- Difficulty eating in front of others
- Avoidance of eye contact
- Feeling withdrawn and shy
- Dislike and avoidance of communication with others, including phone calls
Counselling for social anxiety can be extremely effective in reducing feelings of self-consciousness, worry and tension. Living a life in fear of social events and interactions with other people can take a serious toll on your wellbeing, and ability to function in daily life. Professional therapeutic support can help you recover from social anxiety and start living life to the fullest again.
Effective treatment for social anxiety
Social anxiety responds particularly well to effective, evidence-based counselling. Therapeutic techniques to treat social anxiety include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Psycho-educational Social Skills Training. Depending on your personal circumstances and needs, 6 to 10 sessions of specialist social anxiety counselling will effectively reduce the symptoms of social anxiety in the short-term, with ongoing long-term benefits.
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Anxiety often arises after traumatic events, such as experiencing a death, injury or abuse. Experiencing a traumatic event may lead to feelings of extreme fear or helplessness. If these feelings continue long after the traumatic event has passed, and everyday events start triggering unwanted flashbacks and involuntary stress responses, counselling is the recommended course of action to treat the symptoms of PTSD. Around 10% of people will experience PTSD at some point in their life, with an exceptional recovery rate of 95% amongst those who seek treatment.
Common symptoms of PTSD include:
- Disturbing thoughts, feelings and nightmares
- Intrusive flashbacks and memories
- Increased, frequent stress arousal
- Amnesia around the event
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disturbance
- Exaggerated startle response
Recovery counselling for PTSD can free clients from a life filled with fear, anxiety, and trauma. There is a significant body of research suggesting that effective counselling is an essential component of recovery from PTSD. Clinical neuroscientists such as Besser van der Kolk have shown that PTSD has a neurobiological base, and responds especially well to a combination of behavioural and relaxation techniques.
Effective treatment for PTSD
There is a strong evidence base for effective PTSD counselling. Approaches frequently include a blend of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Therapy, Exposure Therapy, Trauma Recovery Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing. These counselling techniques are grounded in advanced neuropsychological research about the effect of trauma on the body, mind and emotions. Effective counselling and specialist therapeutic support is the key to recovery from trauma.