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Adult Anxiety Psychotherapy

Eastern Ontario Psychotherapy & Counselling for Adults with Anxiety

Hello, Hot Mess Express! We are here for you.

You really want to be engaged with your relationships, your work, and your social life, but your constant worrying takes you out of the moment. You find yourself thinking and thinking and THINKING - about every small decision, about every sentence, about past events - like what whether you'll eat for lunch is a healthy enough choice, how you'll respond when so-and-so says such-and-such, what does your coworker really think of you, and last week did she see the cilantro in your teeth after lunch and think you're a loser? 

Things have gotten so bad that your worry over even daily tasks feels inescapable. You try to focus on one thing but you become so overwhelmed with nerves and physical discomfort, that you can't remember what you were trying to do when you sat down to focus, in the first place. You've wondered more than once if you might have ADHD, as your thoughts have raced around so fast you can't seem to catch them. You may have been a worrywart in the past, but this is a whole new level of distress compared to then.

Is it supposed to be this hard to breathe? You wonder, "why can't I sometimes just breathe like a normal person?" The more you try to keep from having these episodes happen, the more vulnerable you feel to your body suddenly betraying you and amping up like you ought to be running for your life when you are just sitting at the computer working on your taxes (seriously - ugh, taxes). You might try to control it by breathing really carefully, but then - are your hands getting sweaty? Is your heart skipping a few beats? You feel dizzy and weird and out of control - and then you wonder, "Am I dying? Am I going crazy? What the hell is wrong with me?" These attacks can go from 0-100, they happen at times you were relaxing for heaven's sakes, so maybe relaxing is bad? This is all so scary and confusing, and you're not sure how to get yourself feeling back to under control.

 

Does any of this sound familiar?

If it does, you might be suffering from anxiety, friend.

Don't fret. We Eat Anxiety for Breakfast.

Anxiety is a common condition that impacts the lives of many people globally. Usually when you're in the "messy middle" of it all, you don't know how common it is, and it feels like you're going through all of this totally on your own. Or worse, you read things online that indicate that anxiety is basically something you're gonna have to struggle with for the rest of your life. Yeesh! 

For those struggling with severe anxiety symptoms, you really shouldn't do this on your own, even if you feel shame about the fact that these things are happening to you. Just like you wouldn't feel like it is reasonable to treat your own Diabetes without the help of an expert, you shouldn't try to manage your anxiety on your own - you can hire an expert!

 

Why not recruit someone with a lot of experience who understands anxiety inside-out and sideways? Get the help started, quick, so your days of hot mess express can shift into cool cucumber slumber.

<ok, that was a reach - what rhymes with 'cucumber'?> 

 

Dumb rhymes aside, psychotherapy and counselling for anxiety has been demonstrated time and again to be the most effective intervention for anxiety, and to last longer and have fewer future episodes of anxiety relative to the use of prescription anti-anxiety medications. How cool is that? This means that our team of anxiety therapists are basically anxiety-ninja-assassins, with dexterity and time-honoured skills and expertise to skewer your shoddy feelings, pulverize your panic, and eat them for breakfast. 

Our staff of psychologists, social workers, and registered psychotherapists provide support to tackle these problems in weekly talk therapy sessions. We want to work with you to teach you what we know about anxiety, so you can start to feel more at peace as soon as possible. Once your intake process is completed, we recommend that you commit to at least 6 – 8 sessions to ensure you can 'dig in' and make the progress you need for lasting change. Whaddya say?

Sad person on couch

FAQs - Anxiety Psychotherapy and Counselling in Kingston, ON

Which of your staff are anxiety experts?

What are some common causes of anxiety?

  • OH, gee, I dunno...living through a worldwide pandemic?

  • The experience of one panic attack that was so frightening that you became really afraid of having another

  • Major life events (even happy ones), such as moving, getting married, relationship breakups, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, etc.

  • Insufficient rest over a protracted period of time

  • Overstress/Burnout

  • Trauma and PTSD

  • Doing too much because you have FOMO or unrealistic expectations (e.g., I could do it so I should do it)

  • Superpower-level conscientiousness (you need to learn to wield your superpower in light of its shadow-side!)

  • People-pleasing, having difficulties saying "no"

  • Helicopter parents who meant well, but who accidentally left you feeling unskilled at or unequipped to manage your own life without needing reassurance

  • Choosing to prioritize others over yourself

  • Environment - you may have grown up with anxious family members and "learned" to be anxious just like you learned to use a spoon

  • Genetics - some people are dispositionally more likely to have a keyed-up personality

  • Negative events in your life that started a very reasonable anxiety response (e.g., something frightening happened to you or to someone you care about), and the anxiety just never really settled

  • Childhood Abuse, Neglect, Untrustworthy or unreliable caregivers - these types of origins are super common but hard to remember or identify right off the bat.

What should I expect in therapy for my anxiety?

  • You book a free consultation (phone-y freebie) or a full-length first appointment (hit-the-ground-running) with us by simply sending us a message or phoning our admin staff.

  • Once you and your therapist have had a meeting and have decided to work together, it will be time for you guys to dive into better self-understanding by also better understanding what anxiety is, how it starts, and what it does inside your body to result in feeling so terrible.

  • You and your therapist will review your personal history and if applicable, your trauma history, for meaningful links.

  • You and your therapist will work on helping you learn to feel comfortable telling him or her the things about your inner life that are relevant and necessary for a good working model of your anxiety problem.

  • You will explore how your life experiences, thoughts, and situational specifics seem to be combining to sustain instead of resolve your anxiety.

  • Together, you and your therapist will collaborate on strategies to deflate the factors that make you feel poorly.

  • Provided that you have been straightforward with your therapist and practicing your strategies, you will probably begin to start noticing that you are feeling better after a period of putting in the work (about 8 sessions). IF you're not being honest and transparent with your therapist, or if you've got good reasons to hold back and not trust others easily, it'll take longer.

Is Psychotherapy for Anxiety right for me?

  • Are you committed to making a change in your emotional life and your relationships?

  • Are you willing to trust a helping professional, share even the tricky parts of your experiences, in the interest of diving head-first into feeling better?

  • Are you willing to invest in yourself financially and do you have the funds to give this a fair shake?

  • Will you give yourself the time you need to turn around a challenging problem? For most people seeking help for anxiety, you can expect that a fair shake at psychotherapy would be at least 6-8 sessions before you can expect to see a noticeable difference. It will take longer the more serious the problem, and the longer you've had the problem without seeking help.

  • Realistically, only YOU can decide if this is right for you (so don't book an appointment if your wife wants you to do this more than you honestly want to do it).

  • If you're not sure, an option is to book a free 15-minute consultation to get a "feel" for the therapist of your choosing.

  • Here is a simple infographic on how this all works.

Do something great illuimicated sign

Understanding Anxiety

An anxiety response can be defined as our nervous system's (mostly) involuntary response to a real or imagined threat. It feels uncomfortable, and most people think that anxiety is a bad thing, but anxiety is a perfectly normal part of the human emotion spectrum, and in fact, if we didn't have SOME anxiety in our day to day experiences, we wouldn't have healthy mechanisms that keep us safe, warm, and fed. We just don't really notice these nuances of anxiety much because in smaller doses, anxiety results in qualities and actions such as conscientiousness, good planning, and thoughtfulness.

 

So, moderate anxiety is also not always bad; it can help us cope by giving us energy & grit for stressful situations, motivating us to avoid a negative outcome when working towards important goals. Were you ever apprehensive to fail a spelling test when you were little, and that doubt or fear of performing badly motivated you to practice spelling the toughies like "rhythm" and "prejudice" (no? just me?). Short-term anxiety is useful in coping with tense situations; it is the chronic anxiety that starts to feel "too much," never-ending, or out of control - the kind that interferes with our ability to function that is the real problem.

Anxiety is often an isolating experience that leaves you feeling embarrassed and looking to avoid activities you normally enjoy. People with anxiety want to feel more reassured, settled, like they can expect a good outcome, and want to be in control of their thoughts and their bodies' responses. That doesn't seem too crazy, does it?! Sometimes, however, we can become over-sensitized to anxiety, and we begin to fear feeling fear, or we fear the body's involuntary signs of anxiety, and not being able to disconnect from these fears amplifies our uncomfortable feelings even more. This is when it is very helpful to involve a professional to methodically tease apart the body's normal and natural fear responses from a learned fear of the experience of anxiety.

 

When anxiety problems start to get bigger, we feel as though we are losing our grip, becoming irrational. At our clinic we don't actually believe this is what is occurring. Your body and brain just didn't quite get the memo to stop worrying, and are overdoing it, in an effort to try to help you feel better. It's ironic, isn't it? Please don't fret. We know what to do and can start to help you, starting by mapping out more of what has happened to you and how the problem began in your first session.

From there, you and your therapist will work on understanding what seem to be the triggers of your panic, the sensitive spots for your anxiety reaction, or the thoughts at a specific point in your day that seem to get the Indiana Jones Boulders of Doom rolling. With tried-and-true methods and strategies, you can begin to better understand what is happening in your body (so you don't worry about it so much), and how to respond to anxiety-producing thoughts in ways that are more helpful, less trigger-y, and that, over time, settle you down again.

We got you, boo.

Stressed Woman

What are the Signs of an Anxiety Problem?

Different people feel things differently.

You and your next door neighbour may each be diagnosed with an anxiety issue, while showing different types of symptoms, and even at different intensities.

Some people with anxiety problems appear to function very well in their day-to-day activities, but suffer a great physical toll from it, or spend all of their "downtime" recovering.

Tell your Anxiety Therapist about these...​

People are different, life experiences are different, and the impact of an anxiety problem can also be different.

In case it is helpful to you, here is a list of commonly experienced signs of anxiety issues:

  • Panic attacks (sudden onset of four or more several strong physical symptoms of anxiety that last at least several minutes and are extremely distressing, which may include things like: nausea, chills or hot flushes, clammy hands and feet, excessive perspiration, racing heart or heart palpitations, feeling like you can't get enough air, a feeling of needing to escape, an impending feeling of doom, feeling of needing to use the washroom, dizziness, trembling of the extremities, gastrointestinal distress, tingling in the limbs, hands, or feet, distressing concern about being out of control, going crazy, or feeling like you are about to die or are having a heart attack).

  • Fear of having panic attacks

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Irritability, sense of fear, doom

  • Shortness of breath, sensation of breathing being restricted, like there is a band around your chest and you can't get enough air despite trying

  • Dizziness and nausea, chronic difficulties with upset stomach or indigestion that isn't otherwise medically explained, loss of appetite, stomach pains, diarrhea, irritable bowel

  • Racing thoughts, difficulties controlling your thinking, wondering if you are going crazy because it feels like your thoughts are driven by something out of your control

  • Frequent worries about health, relationships, what other people think of you, the state of the world, work, etc - things that are out of your control.

  • Insomnia, exhaustion, fatigue, overall feeling of malaise or being burnt out 

  • Tightness in chest or chest pains

Do you think you have an anxiety problem that is not on this list? It is completely possible that is the case - the above notes are not exhaustive nor are they prescriptive. The main thing that would indicate that therapy would be helpful to you is a problem with some combination of the things above (or variation of them) that interferes with your ability to function in life in some meaningful way. This information is meant to be helpful, but not diagnostic. If you think you have a problem with your emotional balance, that is enough of a sign that something is uncomfortable enough to warrant your attention, diagnosed or not. You do not need to wait for a diagnosis to start getting support.

Panic Attack Sx

What are the Types of Anxiety Disorders?

An anxiety problem is a diagnosable problem when it meets certain diagnostic criteria set out but the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

An anxiety problem can become a "disorder" when it causes you significant distress and it is serious enough that it blocks you from managing the activities you need to do, the roles you are supposed to fill, on a regular basis. It's not just having a bad day, but it's being unable to socialize, work, study, or manage to keep up with the typical daily demands in your life. 

Man with glasses deep in thought

The most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorders we see at the clinic are the following:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, sometimes referred to as GAD for short, is a problem with anxiety that is prevalent in most circumstances, about many things. That is, people with this type of anxiety problem find themselves worrying about many themes (e.g., money, relationships, what people think of them, the future, their health, the pandemic, etc.), and the worry is so extensive that it interferes with their ability to enjoy and "show up" in their lives in significant ways. People with GAD are likely to worry about a number of things over which they have no direct control, have an exaggerated anxious reaction to a situation or unanticipated things, and generally feel anxious even when it is not at all helpful for them to be.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder is more than just sometimes feeling nervous or shy in social situations. This disorder is characterized by such severe anxiety in social situations and fear of being negatively evaluated by others that a person's ability to function becomes impaired. This may include things such as being unable to fulfill an aspect of your job because you feel that others may laugh or criticize you, being unable to have the social life you need and crave because you are not able to speak to anyone other than immediate family, feeling unable to talk on the phone even to just order a pizza or make a medical appointment, and choosing to a fully online school program to avoid having to speak to anyone else. It's not unusual for those with this type of anxiety to avoid every type of interactive situation possible, preventing them from fulfilling their potential and best looking after their own needs (e.g., not going to the dentist when you have a sore tooth because you can't bear the idea of talking to the reception staff or the dentist). 

Panic Disorder

The symptoms of panic attacks have been outlined in the section just above. 

While involving the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorders, panic attacks are sudden anxiety episodes that often include physical symptoms, such as a racing heartbeat and chest pains. They may be brought on by stress or anxiety over particular problems, but can also happen for no apparent reason at all.

Phobias

A phobia is one of the most common anxiety disorders. A phobia is defined as having an intense and irrational fear of a specific situation or object. This means having an extreme anxiety response to something that is not an immediate threat.

Agoraphobia

A phobia is one of the most common anxiety disorders. A phobia is defined as having an intense and irrational fear of a specific situation or object. This means having an extreme anxiety response to something that is not an immediate threat.

GAD
Social Anxiety Disorde
Panic Disorder

How Can We Help You?

TYPES OF THERAPY

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

OUR LOCATIONS

We are located in Kingston, Ontario, but also offer convenient online therapy services to all of Ontario, which means that we often have clients see us from the Toronto/GTA, Ottawa, London, Sarnia, Niagara, Peterborough, Muskoka, Belleville, Napanee, Amherstview, Kingston, Wolfe Island, Gananoque, Sydenham, Glenburnie, Inverary, Rockport, Thousand Islands, and Brockville regions.

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