Anxiety may affect individuals in how they think, feel, and act: thoughts can become plagued with worry, dread, or obsessive planning; behaviors can become inflexible or rigid, through avoidance of people, places, or anxiety-provoking situations; even emotions can become restricted, if the body associates emotional experience as threatening, thus triggering tension and discomfort, in the place of genuine feelings like sadness and anger.
Our therapists are experienced in working with clients struggling with anxiety.
Everyone experiences some level of anxiety in their daily lives; anxiety becomes problematic when it operates beyond the presence of a genuine threat, or if it overgeneralizes to non-threatening situations. Anxiety involves psychological and physiological symptoms that signal the presence of a real, perceived, or anticipated threat.
Therapists often distinguish fear from anxiety. While each can produce similar physiological responses, they can be experienced quite differently, depending on the broader context. With fear, the individual is facing a known or identifiable threat, such as being mugged in a dark alley, or encountering a bear while on a hike in the woods; we are fearful of the mugger and the bear, respectively.
Most fears are justifiable and adaptive. However, for various reasons, we can develop irrational fears, or, justifiable fears may overgeneralize to other objects or situations. It is quite common that even thinking about the feared object can cause distress, which may lead to psychological or behavioral avoidance. Unfortunately, the ‘relief’ we experience through avoidance, only reinforces the fear response, and increases the likelihood of developing a genuine phobia. Such patterns can become reflexive and very difficult to control, leaving one stuck in a vicious cycle of anxiety and avoidance. In these situations, our therapists work with clients to help them understand avoidance patterns and potential roadblocks, while helping them gradually face their fear, eventually leading to a dissipation of the fear-response.