It’s normal to feel nervous or apprehensive sometimes about things that are important, imminent, or difficult to manage: a presentation, test, job interview, a first date, or a hectic schedule. Once the stressor is resolved, you feel relieved. But for some people, that tense or nervous feeling is a way of being – or can become so severe that it gets in the way of school, work, relationships, or your general sense of wellbeing and accomplishment.
Those suffering from anxiety are not alone. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population. (Source: National Institute of Mental Health). Common symptoms include persistent worry or dwelling on problems, a general sense of overwhelm or dread, tension in your muscles, trouble concentrating, irritability, insomnia, fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, and headaches. Some people experience panic attacks, a rapid escalation of anxiety that can cause breathing restriction or feel like a heart attack.
People tend to live with significant anxiety for a long time before they get help. This is often because they feel embarrassed or foolish, are trying to browbeat themselves to improve, or they have simply acclimated to feeling a high level of tension, i.e, believing that ‘this is just the way I am’.
The good news is that anxiety is extremely treatable. A good therapist helps patients develop a plan that builds short-term skills and long-term insights. Psychologists often treat anxiety using cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation skills, family of origin work, assertiveness skills, and practical changes to lifestyle. A skilled clinician listens not just for symptoms, but tailors a treatment plan to the patient’s circumstances and what they value most.
No one should offer you a ‘cure’ for anxiety, nor can anyone guarantee any specific outcome from psychotherapy. That said, reliable, valid, and highly effective treatments are available. Psychologists are especially well trained and versed in the treatment of anxiety and other mental health problems. Always seek out a degreed, licensed professional who is experienced and knowledgeable about anxiety. If you need help, I would welcome your call at (585) 703-1352.