We All Feel Anxious Sometimes
We all experience anxiety throughout our lives, and sometimes this anxiety brings us to counseling. Most of the therapy clients I work with, aren’t experiencing clinical anxiety, but they want help feeling less anxious, either about something in particular or in general.
Often, people will experience anxiety during difficult times in life or after a loss. Talking to a therapist about your anxiety and what’s causing it can provide relief. For most people that aren’t suffering from clinical anxiety, just having an unbiased person to talk to is often all the help they need to feel better.
Normal Anxiety vs Clinical Anxiety
I do not work with clients who are experiencing clinical anxiety. The way I distinguish between normal anxiety and clinical anxiety is this: clinical anxiety gets in the way of living your life. For example, most of us feel some anxiety around going to a party or event where we don’t know anyone, but we generally can power through this and go to the event. Someone with a true clinical anxiety, won’t go, even if the event is important to their career or social life.
True clinical anxiety can take many forms, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder, in which people feel excessive anxiety about multiple areas of their life; they feel is most of the time, and they feel it for at least six months. People with Panic Disorder have recurrent panic attacks out of the blue. Another form of anxiety disorder is phobias, in which someone has anxiety about a specific object or situation and the anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger. If you are experiencing any of the above, I strongly suggest finding a therapist that specializes in treating clinical anxiety. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is another form of clinical anxiety. For more information about trauma, see my trauma counseling page.
Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are the two most common psychological problems people seek counseling for – whether or not either of these reaches the level of a clinical diagnosis. It can be difficult to distinguish between the two, and it should be noted that many people suffer from both depression and anxiety. With both, depressed and anxious people can have trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and feel fatigued. But people with anxiety tend to have keyed-up, nervous energy, while depressed peoples’ energy is more likely to be slow and dulled. And anxious people usually have fear about the future, while depressed people usually don’t have this fear, feeling instead that life is bad now and will continue to be bad.
Drugs and Alcohol and Anxiety
Drugs and alcohol can complicate the picture with anxiety, either causing or exacerbating it. For example, many counseling clients will say they drink or use drugs because they are anxious. Yet, when they stop drinking or using, the anxiety goes away. This tells us that the actual problem wasn’t anxiety; it was the drugs or alcohol. Often marijuana users will say they feel anxious when they go to long without it. Usually this is not actually anxiety; it’s a very common symptom of marijuana withdrawal. Once they fully detox from marijuana, the anxiety goes away. But there are cases in which people with legitimate anxiety use drugs or alcohol as an attempt to cope. As a psychotherapist and drug and alcohol counselor, I’m able to help you figure out what is really going on with your anxiety.
Anxiety and Avoidance
Avoidance is a hallmark of anxiety. When we avoid a difficult situations, we initially experience a decrease in anxiety. Ironically, the more we avoid sometime, the more anxious we become about facing it in the future. In the long run, avoidance actually feeds anxiety, even though it seems to help in the short term. To overcome anxiety, we have to get better about facing what makes us anxious. One of the things I work with nearly all my therapy clients who suffer from anxiety on is developing more ability to tolerate and eventually feel comfortable in situations that cause anxiety.
You Can get help for anxiety
If you are ready to talk about anxiety counseling, I invite you to call me at 512-590-9868. I look forward to hearing from you.