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  • Writer's pictureHeather Steele

Counseling and Anxiety - What You Need to Know.


A young professional woman sitting on the floor with her head down looking troubled.

Anxiety is More Common Than You May Think


Anxiety is a common issue that many people seek counseling for, as it can manifest in various ways and significantly impact a person's life. Some individuals may have trouble sleeping, concentrating, or managing their worries. Some get a sense of impending panic and might feel like isolating themselves from the world.


Physical manifestations may include gastrointestinal problems, hyperventilation, increased heart rate, restlessness, sweating, trembling, tension, tiredness, and weakness.


Counseling is a form of therapy that helps individuals explore and understand their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, to resolve any problems that may be causing distress or impeding personal growth. It helps alleviate symptoms of anxiety.


In this article, we will explore how counseling can effectively treat anxiety and how it can help individuals manage this condition better.


Over 31% of people in the US will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.

What is Anxiety?


Anxiety is a normal response to stress and is often characterized by feelings of worry, nervousness, or fear. It can also manifest as physical symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat, sweating, and muscle tension. It isn’t rare, either. In fact, it affects around 19.1% of Americans aged 18 and older. That’s approximately 40 million adults every year.


While some anxiety is normal and even beneficial, excessive or persistent anxiety can become a problem that interferes with daily life. Anxiety disorders are treatable.

However, less than 37% of the population with anxiety receive proper treatment.

Learn about the causes, types, and treatment options to help you manage anxiety better.


What are the Common Causes of Anxiety?


Anxiety disorders may develop due to a variety of causes and risk factors. An individual’s brain chemistry and personality play a role in the development of anxiety, as do genetics, life events, and physical surroundings. The symptoms may start surfacing during an individual’s childhood or adolescence. Alternatively, symptoms may begin manifesting after stressful situations.


Individuals may consider removing themselves from a situation or location — or distancing themselves from certain individuals or circumstances — to alleviate their anxiety. However, this isn’t always the antidote. The proper treatment will ultimately depend on the individual and the type of anxiety disorder they are dealing with.


What are the Different Types of Anxiety?


There are many classifications of anxiety disorders, such as agoraphobia, generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, social phobia, and specific phobias. Anxiety might arise from medical conditions and specific situations as well.


It’s entirely possible for an individual to experience more than one form of anxiety disorder. Whichever type of anxiety disorder you are dealing with, however, treatment always provides a way to make the symptoms more manageable. And the journey starts with familiarizing yourself with the anxiety disorder.


Agoraphobia

This anxiety disorder classification refers to the fear of places and situations that could make an individual feel helpless, embarrassed, or trapped. It often causes panic in public, unfamiliar, and crowded places.


Generalized Anxiety Disorder

This type of anxiety disorder encompasses the consistent, excessive, and persistent anxiety individuals experience in their daily routines and activities.


The worry and anxiety are not proportional to the details, scale, and magnitude of the actual situation. Yet, it remains difficult for the individual to manage their emotions within the circumstances. It typically occurs alongside depression, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders, or other anxiety disorders.


Medical Condition-related Anxiety Disorder

This type of anxiety disorder refers to intense anxiety, fear, panic, or worry among those dealing with a physical health condition.


Panic Disorder

This anxiety disorder refers to repeated incidents of a sudden rush of intense fear, worry, and anxiety, leading to a panic attack once it reaches its peak within a few minutes. Individuals with panic disorder may feel chest pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, and a sense of impending doom.


As a result, panic attacks may lead the individual to worry about future episodes, so they actively think of ways to avoid situations in which the attacks occurred.


Selective Mutism

This refers to situations wherein individuals — usually children — consistently fail to speak in specific situations, such as school or public places, even though they have no problem communicating elsewhere, such as with close friends and family members. This type of anxiety disorder interferes with social skills and function.


Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety disorder typically develops in one’s childhood. It refers to an excessive anxiety based on the child’s developmental stage, causing deep panic or worry about separation from parents or adults who play parental roles.


Social Phobia

Social phobia — otherwise known as a social anxiety disorder — refers to intense feelings of fear, anxiety, panic, worry, and avoidance in social situations. It is often triggered by an individual’s self-consciousness, embarrassment, and extreme concern about being laughed at, judged, or viewed negatively by others.


Specific Phobias

This type of anxiety disorder refers to an individual’s extreme anxiety, discomfort, fear, or panic when exposed to a specific object or situation. Extreme phobias could result in panic attacks.


Substance-induced Anxiety

This type of anxiety disorder often results from certain medications, exposure to toxic substances, substance misuse, and substance withdrawal. Common symptoms include intense anxiety and panic attacks.


Unspecified Anxiety Disorders

This refers to anxiety disorders and phobias that don’t entirely fall under the criteria for other types of anxiety disorders and phobias, but that have a significant enough impact on an individual to cause distress and disruptions to their everyday lives.


When is the Right Time to Visit a Professional?


It might be best to book an appointment with a counselor if you’re experiencing any of the following:

  • Anxiety, fear, worry, or panic that you can’t easily manage or control

  • Constant anxiety, fear, overthinking, or worrying that interferes with work, school, social relationships, or other aspects of your life

  • Suspicions that your persistent anxiety is linked to a medical condition

  • A history of depression, substance misuse, and mental health concerns that could be exacerbating your anxiety, fear, worry, or panic

  • The presence of suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Anxiety could get worse if it remains unaddressed for a prolonged period. So, seek help right away. Anxiety is easier to treat the earlier it is detected.


How Does Counseling Address Anxiety?


Counseling can be an effective way to treat anxiety for several reasons. First, it provides a safe and confidential space for individuals to explore and understand their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This can be particularly important for people with anxiety, as they may have difficulty understanding why they feel the way they do.

Counseling can also help individuals identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs contributing to their anxiety.


Social anxiety disorder is one of the most common anxiety disorders, affecting around 12% of U.S. adults at some point in their lives.

What are the Different Types of Counseling For Anxiety?


Anxiety manifests differently for different people. It could be more manageable on some days than others. And factors that might trigger one person’s anxiety might not have the same effect on another person. Similarly, counseling people have varied responses to therapy. For this reason, counselors organize and recommend different types of counseling depending on each individual.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of counseling that is particularly effective for treating anxiety. CBT focuses on the connection between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and helps individuals learn how to change negative thoughts and behaviors contributing to their anxiety.


CBT teaches individuals to recognize and change negative thoughts and beliefs, to challenge and overcome negative thoughts, and modify behaviors to reduce anxiety symptoms.


Exposure Therapy

Another type of counseling that can be effective in treating anxiety is exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is a type of CBT that gradually exposes individuals to the things that they fear in a safe and controlled environment. The goal is to help them to overcome their fear and reduce their anxiety symptoms.


Deep Breathing and Relaxation

Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation can also be beneficial for managing anxiety symptoms. Counselors can teach individuals these techniques and help them to develop a daily practice that they can use to manage anxiety symptoms when they arise.


Why Seek Counseling For Anxiety Disorder


Counseling can be beneficial for individuals who have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are characterized by persistent and excessive anxiety that interferes with daily life. Common anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobia.


Apart from addressing anxiety symptoms, counseling can also help individuals understand and address their anxiety's underlying causes. This includes exploring past experiences and relationships, identifying patterns of thought and behavior, and working to change negative patterns.


In that regard, counseling can be beneficial for people who experience anxiety due to a traumatic event or ongoing stressors in their life.


What Can a Counselor Do For Individuals With Anxiety?


A counselor or therapist can provide a diagnosis and recommend treatment options, including therapy, medication, or a combination of both. They provide a safe and confidential space for individuals to explore and understand their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. They also help them identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs contributing to their anxiety.


CBT, exposure therapy, and relaxation techniques can be particularly beneficial for managing anxiety symptoms. Find out more about trauma therapy.


Reach Out to a Counselor For Your Peace of Mind


Counseling provides a way for people to address underlying causes and can effectively treat specific anxiety disorders. It is essential to work with a qualified and trained professional to determine the best treatment for your particular situation and to have ongoing support per your situation.


Reach out to our counselors in Morrisville, NC when you’re ready to explore how to address any anxiety you may be feeling. We offer a free 15-minute consultation to discuss your options and determine whether counseling is a good fit for you.


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