Am I an Anxious Person?

Am I an Anxious Person?

Ever wondered if you’re an anxious person? Have you questioned, does my anxiety feel like everyone else’s? Why does it seem like my anxiety is higher than most? Perhaps your loved ones around you have pointed it out. They’ve mentioned you seem uptight and have a hard time calming down. Maybe you seem lost in space almost like you’re zoned out. If this sounds like you, here are some ways to know if you are struggling with anxiety.

Anxiety versus Feeling Anxious

As a reminder, everyone feels anxiety to some extent or another. There’s a difference between feeling anxious and having anxiety. Someone who feels anxious, has a moment of anxiety that comes and goes like any other feeling. When someone has clinical anxiety, the feeling of anxiety is overwhelming, exhausting, and sometimes debilitating.

Duration, Intensity, Frequency

Clinical anxiety is something that gets in the way of every day life. For an anxious person we look at 3 things: frequency, intensity and duration. When a person is frequently anxious, anxious thoughts usually take up the majority of the day and happens every day. Intensity looks at how severe the thoughts are: are the thoughts realistically worried (ie: I’m worried my daughter will get on the wrong bus since it’s her first week of school) or irrationally anxious (ie: My husband and I should book two sepearate flights so if one of us dies in a plane crash our kids will still have one parent)? And lastly is duration: how long do anxious spells last? Hours? Minutes? Days?

For an anxious individual, the thoughts can be so overwhelming that it’s hard to focus on anything else but the anxious thoughts. Those around you may notice it’s hard for you to calm down or unwind. It makes it difficult to stay focused, organize, and on task with things you have to. For many, anxiety keeps you up at night. You have overwhelming thoughts of all the things that could go wrong tomorrow and highlights the things you feel out of control about.

Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

For many, anxiety can lead to physical symptoms like an upset, stomach, headache, and muscle tension. Many often experience, heart palpitation, earning creased heart rate, which feels a whole lot like a physical condition. Read more about that here.

Write Down Your Anxious Symptoms

One way to determine if you’re an anxious individual is to pay attention to the thoughts you are thinking. Take inventory of how often you experience these thoughts, how intense they are and how long the last. I know, this sounds like a counselor thing to say, and it is. Listen to your thoughts. Are they fear-based? Irrational? Overwhelming? Only you can tell. You are the only one who can hear the thoughts. Pay attention to the thoughts you think. Write them down and go from there. Email us if it’s seems too much to tackle alone.

Can Anxiety Hurt my Body?

Anxiety in Your Body 

Ever had a belly ache and hot sweat right before a big presentation? How about “insomnia” at night because you’re thinking of all of the things that can go wrong tomorrow? Feeling like your heart is going to beat out of your chest or like you’re on the verge of a heart attack? Most adults are likely to visit a medical professional if symptoms like these persist, but did you know they could actually be stemming from an emotional or mental issue?

Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety is often a misdiagnosed condition early on. Many complain of body symptoms like a severe headache, bellyache, neck stiffness, rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, and just feeling plain sick! These are called psychosomatic complaints. Yes, there’s a fancy word to describe how anxiety and other mental health problems can come out like a physical ailment in your body.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask You About Anxiety

Unfortunately, many who visit a doctor or medical professional for these chronic symptoms are often met with little to no relief. The medications prescribed are unhelpful, extensive testing yields negative results, which often leaves the patient and provider with confusion and uncertainty. It is often after many visits and little to no response from the medication regimen that someone from the medical professional team may explore other, more emotionally rooted questions with you:
  • How has your stress level been lately?
  • How have you been sleeping?
  • Is there anything else in your life bothering you at this time?
  • Do you feel like this is getting in the way of your daily life?
  • Does anyone in you family have mental health issues?
Remember, the doctor is not trying to offend you by asking these questions. They are trying to help point you in the right direction but need some extra details from you first. So do your best to be honest, and offer some more insight into what it feels like to be you.
Many doctors suggest the patient seeks services from a mental health professional if they believe your physical complaints are part of a psychological issue. That’s where we come in. Talking about and processing out loud with a safe person help you to work through things that have been really difficult.

Anxiety Doesn’t Define You

One thing we’d like to make clear early is you are not your mental health condition. Your mental health condition does not define you. Nor does your physical health for that matter. Anxiety, for example, is part of your life, but it is not all of it. you are not anxiety. Anxiety holds one small place in your heart and mind, amongst the hundreds of other important things.
Getting properly diagnosed for a mental health condition actually helps to get those physical symptoms under control. There is a way to find relief and freedom from these psychosomatic complaints. But it’s going to start first by discussing what’s going on in your heart and mind. If you’re not sure what to expect from counseling, here’s an article that talks more about that here. Reach out, find help today.

What is Trauma?

What is Trauma?

  • WRITTEN BY: MARQUIA CALDWELL, LPC
  • “Trauma is much more than a story about the past…trauma is re-experienced in the present, not as a story, but as profoundly disturbing physical sensations and emotions that may be associated with memories of past trauma”

    -Bessel van der Kolk, a trauma expert

    When mental health professionals talk about trauma and mental health, we are talking about an emotional or psychological injury. Trauma is a response to an experience that overwhelms an individual’s capacity to cope, often as a result of dangerous situations or life threatening events. This can be a single event or multiple events. These experiences cause a negative impact on the mind and heart. There are various forms of trauma such as, but can include the following: 

        • Abuse (sexual, physical, and emotional),
        • Life-threatening accidents or illnesses,
        • Violence in school or the community,
        • Domestic violence (witnessing or experiencing),
        • National disasters,
        • Acts of terror,
        • Public health crises such as COVID-19,
        • Loss of a loved one, especially when sudden or violent in nature,
        • Refugee or war experiences,
        • and Neglect.

      Noticeable signs when struggling with trauma can include:

        • Insomnia, 
        • Poor concentration, 
        • Intrusive memories and thoughts,
        • Isolation, 
        • Self-doubt, 
        • Mood changes, 
        • Detachment from reality, 
        • Nightmares and/or flashbacks, 
        • Panic attacks, 
        • Loss of hope, 
        • Lack of vision for future, 
        • Inability to regulate emotions or lack of emotional response, 
        • Paranoia, 
        • Hypervigilance, and more. 

      Trauma writes itself on the mind and body of survivors. This means our actions, reactions, and behaviors are a result of our painful experiences.  Each traumatic experience is unique and can manifest in lots ways such as PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Substance Abuse, Eating Disorders, Chronic Pain, Increased chances of experiencing life-threatening conditions, Relationship and Social Issues.

      Our traumas do NOT define us; they are just a PART of who we are.”

      Recovery and Support

      Recovery with trauma is a journey. Think of having a deep cut on your arm. There are options presented to us to heal this cut. You can leave it alone and let it heal on its own, clean it and cover it, or go to a professional to close it up. When it comes to emotional wounds, most cover it up and hope for the best. However, sometimes when we think things are healed, we realize it didn’t quite heal right. 

    • Re-opening wounds can be part of the process of healing, and with counseling, this is oftentimes the case. There are various forms of counseling and psychotherapy to help survivors cope with their traumatic experiences. Along with therapy, doing enjoyable activities/ hobbies and surrounding oneself with a positive support system is incredibly helpful in coping with trauma as well.
    • If you’re not sure where to start, but know you have experienced trauma, don’t wait for things to get harder or worse. Remember, getting help for trauma doesn’t have an expiration date. Even if traumatic things happened “a long time ago,” your heart can still find healing today. 

       

Anxiety- What is it?

Anxiety- What is it?

WRITTEN BY: KIMBERLY ALANIZ, LCSW-S

Nearly every individual will experience symptoms of anxiety in their lifetime. In fact, small amounts of anxiety aren’t necessarily a bad thing. So, can anxiety be good? Or even helpful? The answer is, yes! Like other emotions, anxiety serves an important biological purpose; protection.

The Evolution of Anxiety 

Evolutionarily (think back to cave man days) it protected cavemen from walking through tall grass with the potential of being attacked by an animal hiding feet away. In today’s modern world, anxiety can push you to study for a big algebra test, encourage you to apply for your dream job or discourage you from walking down a dark, empty alley alone.  

Biologically, anxiety prepares and helps the body to fight, freeze or flee a stressful situation in an attempt to protect. You may experience this as a rapid heart rate and breathing, which purpose is to send oxygenated blood to muscles you need in the process (i.e., your legs). You may even experience this as racing thoughts, which mentally prepares you for every possible scenario. Although the experience itself may feel negative, healthy amounts of anxiety are normal.

So, when can anxiety be bad or unhelpful? When the feelings of anxiety become excessive dread or fear that interrupts everyday life even when there is no evidence of a real threat. These symptoms could suggest a clinical anxiety disorder.

Common Anxiety Disorders:

· Generalized anxiety disorder– excessive, unrealistic worry about everyday life situations with no obvious reason.

· Social anxiety disorder- excessive fear and irrational thoughts about social situations to include worries about feeling judged, embarrassed or humiliated.

· Panic disorder- excessive fear and worries about losing control or disaster accompanied by sudden or frequent attacks of fear that last a few minutes to longer (also called panic attacks).

Common Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

· Feelings of panic, dread and doom,

· Difficulties falling and staying asleep,

· Shortness of breath or rapid shallow breathing,

· Rapid heart beat,

· Tense muscles,

· Stomach issues not explained by another medical condition,

· Over thinking,

· Inability to concentrate.

Sound familiar? If you or someone you love is struggling contact a mental health professional who can help you understand anxiety and help find ways to manage symptoms. Contact us today!

What to Expect When You’re Expecting…Your First Counseling Appointment

What to Expect When You’re Expecting…Your First Counseling Appointment

Thinking of your first session with your counselor can be scary. But rest assured, it’s not as scary as you think. This blog below will go over some expectations you can have for your first meeting with your new counselor.

How a Counselor is Different than a Doctor

To begin, a counseling appointment is very different than meeting with a doctor. A counseling session is a talk therapy session. You and your counselor will be conversating with the intent to go over as much information about you as possible. You will talk about what brings you to counseling and what you hope to get from it. Counselors do not prescribe medication, nor are we able to, so don’t count on us for that. We can, however, diagnose you with a mental health condition like generalized anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder. *If you are looking for medication for psyhological issues, you need a psychiatric appointment.

Counseling Paperwork

The first counseling appointment is about an hour or a little more. You will also have to complete loads of documents and forms (insurance info, informed consent, credit card authorization form, etc). Any good counselor will REQUIRE you to complete these before your session. 

Your counselor will spend some time reviewing the informed consent with you. This form goes through fees, what to expect from counseling, how to get a hold of your counselor, your rights, and limits to confidentiality. One of the most important things is that you know all of what you share in counseling is private and confidential—with the exception of a few things, mainly related to safety of yourself and others.

The Beginning of the Counseling Session 

Your counselor will ask you questions about things sticking out from your intake. Your counselor will get more information about how you grew up, your family and who is part of your family now. We want to know things that give you joy and things that really bother you. Most important, we want to know what brings you into counseling to begin with. Your counselor will talk with you and process different things to get a better understanding of your situation.

The End of the Counseling Session 

By the end of session, you and your counselor will be working to identify goals based on the reason you’re getting counseling. For example, the reason you are seeking counseling might be because of marriage problems and stress. The goal is geared towards what you hope to gain from your experience in counseling. An example of a goal for marriage problems might be to better control your emotions and temper with your spouse and work on stress relieving skills.

Counseling is Your Choice

Going to counseling is a voluntary decision meaning no one can force you to come. Your counselor will make recommendations about how often you should be seen or when to come back. But ultimately it is your choice to continue counseling or not. While others around may want you to come to counseling, it is your decision. If you’re under the age of 18, you and your guardian are in control of this choice.

Remember your counselor is a person, just like you. Your counselor does not have all of the answers, a magic wand, or a special pill to make all your problems go away. The goal is to change you: how you think, how you act, and how take control of your emotions. The focus will not be on changing your situation as much as it will be on changing you.