Anxiety Treatment Melbourne
Regain control of your life with anxiety counselling at Mindview Psychology in Melbourne.
What is Anxiety?
Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. We might feel anxious before a job interview, or when we feel we’re in danger, like waking up to a strange sound in the Melbourne night. Everyday anxiety is occasional, mild and brief. In some situations, anxiety can be essential to our survival. If you were standing on the edge of a curb and a car swerved towards you, you would immediately perceive danger and jump back to avoid the car. This normal anxiety reaction, called the ‘fight or flight’ response, is what triggers you to immediately respond to danger.
The anxiety felt by a person with a disorder occurs often, is more intense, and lasts longer: up to hours and sometimes even days. Anxiety disorders can make it hard for people in Melbourne to work or study, manage daily tasks and have relationships. These disorders are the most common mental health problem in women, and are second only to substance-use disorders in men. On average, one-in-four Australians will experience an anxiety disorder at some stage in their life, so there are plenty of people in Melbourne going through the same thing as you. The most important thing to do is recognise the symptoms, and seek treatment or counselling.
How Do I Know If I Have an Anxiety Disorder?
For people in Melbourne and around the world, symptoms of an anxiety disorder can develop over time. To be diagnosed with a disorder, the anxiety must be having a disabling impact on the person’s life. Anxiety symptoms fall into three categories: cognitive (recurring thoughts), physical sensations (the ‘flight or flight’ response), and behavioural symptoms. See a list of common symptoms below:
- Anxious thoughts: ‘I’m losing control’
- Anxious predictions: ‘I’m going to stuff it up, and humiliate myself’
- Anxious beliefs: ‘Only weak people get anxious.’
- Nightmares or flashbacks after a traumatic event
- Racing heart
- Chest pain, discomfort, heart palpitations, shortness of breath
- Butterflies or knots in the stomach
- Sweating, shaking, nausea, or dizziness
- Avoiding feared situations
- Avoiding activities that cause feelings similar to those felt when anxious (e.g., exercise, or parties)
- Subtle avoidances (behaviours that aim to distract the person e.g., talking more during periods of anxiety)
Why is This Happening to Me?
As with depression, anxiety disorders are often a caused by a combination of factors. The social and physical risk-factors associated with developing a disorder are listed below:
- Parental mental illness
- Verbal, sexual, or emotional abuse, as a child or adult
- Exposure to domestic violence
- Exposure to adverse life-events (bereavement, family relationship problems, loss or change of job, changed living-arrangements.)
- Experiencing a major emotional shock following a stressful or traumatic event
- Family history of mental illness
- Personality traits such as neurotic, perfectionist, low self-esteem, or pessimistic
Different Types of Anxiety
The seven main types and symptoms of anxiety disorders are listed below:
- Panic disorder (with or without agoraphobia): Having ongoing panic attacks (at least four a week) for at least a one-month period.
- Social phobia: A fear of humiliation or embarrassment, or a fear of being scrutinized and criticized by other people.
- Generalised anxiety disorder (or GAD): General worry and constant feelings of uneasiness. Often described as feelings of ‘free-floating anxiety.’
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): Obsessive and distressing thoughts or beliefs which are often followed by unusual behaviours or rituals, designed to relieve the distressing feelings.
- Acute stress disorder: The development of psychological problems following exposure to trauma, within a month of exposure to the traumatic event.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): The development of psychological problems (re-experiencing the event, numbness, hyperarousal) following exposure to trauma, over a month after exposure to the traumatic event.
- Hypochondriasis (health anxiety): Excessive worry or preoccupation about having a serious illness.
What is the treatment?
Psychological treatments (counselling) have been found to be the most effective way to treat anxiety disorders. The goal in the treatment of anxiety is not to remove all anxiety, but to reduce it to a manageable level so that a person can function well in their daily Melbourne life. Psychological treatments may not only help people to recover, but can also help to prevent a recurrence of anxiety problems. Effective counselling and treatment helps people with an anxiety disorder learn how to control the condition – so it doesn’t control them.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behaviour therapy is an effective treatment for anxiety disorders, and the most common type of anxiety counselling in Melbourne. The therapist helps the person to become more aware of negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviours through counselling. CBT has two aspects: behaviour therapy and cognitive therapy.
Behaviour therapy uses counselling to help the person understand how changing their behaviour can change how they’re feeling. Examples of behavioural techniques include breathing exercises, relaxation training, behavioural activation (exercise), and ‘postponing your worries.’ Changing behaviour is very effective for anxiety disorders, where people learn to overcome their anxiety by gradually facing their fears. While facing their fears, Melbourne patients can decrease their withdrawal and avoidance to the feared situation. With this type of counselling, the therapist helps the person identify unhelpful thinking patterns and replace them with more helpful thoughts. Skills training (e.g., stress management, social-skills training, and anger management), is another important aspect of CBT.
The sooner a person suffering from anxiety gets counselling; the more likely they are to recover. If you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder you might find it difficult to take that first step. You might be trying to ignore the problem or cope with it on your own, but this may cause your symptoms to get worse. Once you ask for help from a counselling professional, you can start receiving treatment, learning how to deal with anxiety and get back to living a good life.
If you live in Melbourne, we can provide you with the support and treatment you need. Please contact us to find out more.