Stress and Anxiety

Over the years, my primary specialty has been has been helping people who are "stressed out". They tell me they can't stop thinking about a problem or set of problems. They are worrying alot. They aren't sleeping well. They are having trouble concentrating at work. They feel like their minds and their lives are out of control. They may be short tempered or cry easily. They may be tense. They may have other physical symptoms like headaches or gastro-intestinal distress.

Depression often accompanies stress and anxiety. Stressful situations are usually negative or depressing situations.

I approach the treatment of anxiety in a variety of ways. Which approaches we use depend on the client's preferences and what I think might work best for them.

The approaches I use for the treatment of anxiety are:

Practical problem solving : Are there actions the client can take to materially improve the situation? What have they tried to do? With what results? Who else is involved? Could another person be of assistance?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy : How is the client interpreting the situation(s)? What do they know to be true and what assumptions are they making? Are they catastrophizing? Are they reacting too personally? What do they believe will happen next? If so, how can they be sure? What positive solution do they want? Are there ways to frame the situation more positively or productively? Are there ways to address the situation directly that are more likely to lead to a positive resolution?

Meditation and Attention Training : Meditation practices produce experiences of serenity and inner peace through the training of attention. The combination of cognitive behavioral methods and meditation practice is highly effective in ending panic attacks and reducing overall levels of anxiety.

Mindfulness : Mindfulness practices orient the person to the concrete and immediate experience of reality and away from obsessive thinking and a recurring experience of worry, fear, and doubt. Mindfulness is a form of attention training.

Character Strengths : When people are overwhelmed by anxiety, they often forget or underestimate their strengths and inner resources. Identifying and reexperiencing those strengths can often help them reassert themselves. Please see my webpage on Positive Psychology .

Medication : As a psychologist, I do not prescribe medication but medication can often be useful. There are minor tranquilizers for short term use. And the current generation of antidepressant medications (SSRIs) provide anti-anxiety benefits as well. These medications can be used safely over extended periods of time.

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