Is Anxiety Taking Over Your Life?

Do you feel on edge, irritable, fearful or panicked and can’t seem to get past these difficult, persistent feelings, no matter what you do? Do you often feel flooded with intense emotion and then so overwhelmed that you shut down or start crying? Maybe you feel highly anxious, fearful or avoidant about one specific thing. Or, it might be that you feel overly stressed by life in general and struggle to manage relationships, family, work and daily responsibilities. Perhaps your anxiety has begun to manifest physically through changes in eating and sleeping patterns, an accelerated heartbeat or shortness of breath. Are you consumed by looping, perhaps even illogical, thoughts and worries that you can’t shut off, even when you’re exhausted and desperately want to relax? Do you wish you could find a way to overcome —or at least manage—stress, worries and fears and feel peaceful, competent and hopeful about the future?

It might be that it is your teenager who is exhibiting signs of anxiety. He or she might be engaged in perfectionistic thinking and/or highly fearful of or fixated on something specific, such as dying, fitting in with peers or getting into a good college. And, while you may desperately want to help your teen feel more confident and at peace, you might be at a loss over what to do.

Whether as a teenager or adult, living with anxiety can be a confusing, distressing, isolating and even frightening experience. Whether you or your teen is suffering from general anxiety or struggling with a specific issue, such as phobia, ­panic or social anxiety, anxiety can impact all aspects of your life—from work and relationships to self-esteem and self-confidence. You might constantly feel keyed up, entrenched in uncomfortable thoughts, emotions and body sensations that you can’t get out of. The looping cycle of anxiety can make it hard to be present, concentrate and get things done, which can cause even more anxiety and possibly depression, especially if you’ve begun to doubt your abilities. You might have tried everything you can think of—perhaps even self-medicating with food, overworking, drugs and/or alcohol or sex—to curb the anxious feelings, but nothing you do seems to lead to any long-term relief.

Anxiety Is Extremely Common In Our Culture

If you’re struggling with anxiety, you are not alone. Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in the U.S. It affects more than 40 million American adults every year, and studies now show that one in five, or 20 percent, of all teenagers suffer from anxiety. And, while most people don’t talk openly about their experience with anxiety, it’s no surprise that it’s on the rise. We live in an increasingly fast-paced, technology-driven, social media crazed society that amplifies the old adage of trying to keep up with the Jones’, and now the Kardashians’. More than ever, there is pressure to achieve success and status, especially when we compare ourselves to people posting perfect pictures of their perfect lives. We also live in a scary world, full of threats, which the media magnifies. From school shootings, terrorist attacks and natural disasters to job losses and an unstable economy, the list goes on and on, exasperating our worst fears.

Many of us also live in families struggling to juggle seemingly endless to-do lists and experiencing heightened anxiety. It’s often said that anxiety can be hereditary—if a parent is anxious, it is likely that his or her children will also develop anxious traits. And, while some of us are wired to develop anxiety, it can also be caused by trauma, loss or significant life transitions, which impact countless people every day. We all carry some level of stress, but for millions of Americans, stress crosses the line into anxiety and significantly hinders, rather than helps us, have the ability to feel good and function well.

The good news is that there is help and hope. While anxiety disorders are very common, the flip side is that they are also highly manageable and even treatable. A compassionate and skilled anxiety therapist can help you and/or your teen create a strategy to take control of anxiety, facilitate relief and affect long-lasting, positive change.

Anxiety Therapy Can Provide You With Skills, Support And Relief

In safe, confidential counseling sessions, I can help you get to the root of your anxiety. We can uncover, explore and address the core issues and repetitive thoughts that are fueling your stress, worries and fears. As anxious thoughts and emotions surface in sessions, we can also identify coping strategies that may have worked once but no longer serve you. Together, we’ll figure out what drives your anxiety, especially if you don’t know precisely what is triggering the anxiety. Whether it’s from memories of experiences in childhood, social anxiety or current stressful situations, such as pressures from relationships, work or school, we can challenge and disempower the stories you’ve created that continue to fuel anxious thinking. Rather than stay in thinking patterns that increase stress and worry, you can learn to reframe how you think and replace negative thoughts with ones that are supportive, realistic and positive.

In initial anxiety treatment sessions, we’ll work together to identify your goals and create a therapy strategy that best addresses and supports your unique experience, needs and goals. I’ll draw from various evidence-based modalities, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), EMDR and Internal Family Systems (IFS), which have been proven to help treat anxiety. In the safe space of my office, I can help you process and clear ineffective thinking patterns, breakdown irrational beliefs, filter through the illogical voices that fuel anxiety and connect with the wise part of yourself. You can also develop a mindful awareness of your body, which can make the bodily sensations caused by anxiety feel less scary and even dissipate. And, together, we can identify specific presenting problems, look at big picture goals and define actionable, manageable steps to help you get there.

I take a solution-oriented, practical, compassionate and strength-based approach to treating anxiety. I truly believe that you have the innate ability to affect positive change in your life and can triumph over this struggle. In sessions, we can identify your greatest strengths so you can draw upon them and create vision and excitement around how you can reach your goals. We can also determine the beliefs that you have about yourself that are causing you pain rather than lifting you up. Essentially, working together, we will create a strategy that empowers you to take control of your anxiety and live as your wisest, most authentic self. And, as you get to know yourself on a deeper level, you can begin to act as the confident conductor of your own life. It is possible to manage and even overcome anxiety entirely. You and/or your teen can move into a joyous, peaceful and empowered way of living.

You still may have questions or concerns about anxiety counseling…

Does an anxiety diagnosis mean that I’ll need to go on medication?

A lot of research shows that medication in tandem with therapy can be a highly effective form of anxiety treatment, especially when anxiety is chronic or severe. Though there may be additional ways to manage anxiety, the decision is up to you. Whether you are interested in medication or not, we can work collaboratively to come up with an anxiety treatment plan that works best for you.

I’ve been anxious my whole life. I’m not sure that anything—even anxiety therapy— can help.

While you might always live with some level of anxiety, therapy can help you learn to quiet the noise in your head and better understand your experience with anxiety, which often leads to an immediate sense of relief. And, through drawing from techniques like Cognitive Behavioral therapy and mindfulness, we can tailor-create a therapy plan that works specifically for you. What is important is that you don’t give up hope. I’ll offer you support and facilitate the process as we find a way for you to live with less anxiety and more joy and ease.

I'm worried that talking about all the stress in my life will make me feel more overwhelmed and worse than I already do.

A lot of people fear that talking about their anxiety will create more anxiety. However, attempts to push down anxiety actually increase anxiety. When you’re able to look at the thoughts and feelings that stir up anxiety and find healthy ways to manage and cope with them, anxiety loses some of its power. In anxiety therapy sessions, I can help you connect with the wise part of yourself and move at a pace that feels comfortable to you. You can learn to engage in realistic, positive thinking, develop the practical skills needed to quell anxious thoughts and become empowered to affect positive change in your life.

You Can Live An Empowered Life

You don’t have to continue to navigate the distress of anxiety on your own. If you’re struggling with anxiety in South LA county or North and South Orange County, I invite you to call my office line at 949-342-4585 for a complimentary 15-minute consultation. I’m happy to discuss your specific experience with anxiety, answer any questions you have about anxiety therapy and my practice and decide how we could best work together to support your needs and goals.