Online Anxiety Treatment
What is anxiety?
Anxiety expresses itself in many ways but what anxiety is to my patients is primarily one thing: distress.
While there can be healthy degrees of anxiety, it can quickly feel unmanageable.
I define anxiety as a pattern of dreading the future by experiencing worrisome thoughts, physical sensations, and mental discomfort.
The core of anxiety is worrying about unpredictability.
What is going to happen next? Is it going to be catastrophic? Am I going to be alright? What happens if the things I worry about come true? What if…
I often stop my patients when they start saying, “What if…” I tell them, if the words “what if” come to mind, you are probably about to think of something irrational.
Accepting that anxious thoughts are irrational is an important step to starting treatment!
Anxiety can take a wide variety of forms such as generalised anxiety disorder, PTSD, OCD, or a phobia. While each disorder is different, there is some overlap in the anxiety response.
Let’s look at some of the physical changes caused by stress and anxiety.
The following changes occur when the stress response is triggered:
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Release of stress hormones
- Muscle tension
- Changes in blood flow and circulation
- Increase in vigilance
- Increase in perspiration
- Imbalances in normal hormone levels
GAD, OCD, Panic,
Issues such as generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder are often a variety of physiological symptoms combined with thoughts that provoke intense anxiety.
Thoughts and emotional reactions get involuntarily associated which we call conditioning. Conditioned behaviors and responses begin to cause more serious problems when they generalize.
Generalization occurs when a conditioned response becomes less specific and occurs, not only to the original conditioned stimulus, but also to new stimuli that resemble the original stimulus.
For instance, if a person experiences extreme discomfort from hearing a song that has been paired with a traumatic event, that person is not likely to realize or understand their uncomfortable feelings.
As they experience anxiety repeatedly, feelings of confusion and distress may generalize to other areas of their life and create additional problems.
In the case of a person conditioned to react negatively to the song, the fear may generalize to listening to that genre of music, to listening to the radio, or to driving altogether.
Conditioned responses and generalization often function to maintain intense emotional reactions and problematic behaviors. We see conditioning and generalization occur across all anxiety disorders.
An overview of PTSD
A person experiencing a traumatic event feels horrified and helpless and often is afraid that they or someone else is going to die.
After the event, the person often feels frightened, confused, or angry. Most individuals who go through a traumatic event have some distressing symptoms, but the symptoms eventually go away.
However, when symptoms intensify over time, the strong emotions create changes in the brain that may contribute to the development of PTSD.
Although 50 to 60 percent of people experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime, only about 7 to 8 percent develop PTSD. Women are more likely to experience sexual trauma, including childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault.
Although about 50 percent of women experience trauma during their lives, about 10 percent develop PTSD. Men are more likely to experience physical assault, accidents, disaster, or to witness injury or death.
Of the 60 percent of men who experience trauma in the general population, less than 5 percent develop PTSD.
Photo by Portraitor on Pixabay
It is not clear why some individuals develop PTSD, while others do not. The following factors may contribute to the development of PTSD:
- Direct exposure to the trauma as a witness or victim
- Very intense or long-lasting traumatic event
- History of previous traumatic events
- Fear that a family member is in danger
- Strong emotional reaction to the traumatic event
- Intense feelings of helplessness and horror
- Being injured seriously during the traumatic event
- Recent loss of a loved one, especially if the loss was unexpected
- Lack of support after the traumatic event
- History of another mental health problem
- History of substance abuse
- Family members with mental health problems
- Recent stressful life changes
Many individuals who develop PTSD improve over time, especially if they receive psychological treatment soon after the traumatic event.
However, about 1 out of 3 individuals with PTSD continue to suffer from their symptoms, which may interfere with their everyday life, their work, and their relationships.
The onset of symptoms of PTSD usually occurs soon after the traumatic event. However, symptoms may not emerge for months or years after the event.
Childhood abuse can be repressed until later when the person is in a relationship or has a child who is approaching the age when the abuse occurred.
How does online anxiety treatment work?
Anxiety treatment online has the same effectiveness as face-to-face treatment is almost exactly the same.
After you meet with me for an intake, which is the first session, I get a snapshot of your history and, typically, a clear diagnosis.
From there, we set specific goals about what you want to achieve and about how long it will take to get you there.
I am a cognitive-behavioral therapist and use a wide variety of cognitive-behavioral techniques during treatment.
Here are some of the Basic Principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy has been tested extensively over the decades and has been accepted and applied world-wide as an effective mode of treatment.
If you read over these, it will help you understand how CBT works!
- Distorted thinking, also referred to as distorted cognition and negative self-talk, is at the core of all negative feelings and behaviors.
- Becoming aware of and challenging distorted thought patterns results in an improvement in both mood and behavior.
- For CBT to be successful, the therapist must establish a positive therapeutic alliance with the patient.
- CBT is goal-oriented and focuses on helping patients solve problems in the here-and-now.
- CBT emphasizes the importance of collaboration between therapist and patient and active participation by the patient.
- CBT aims to educate patients by assisting them in becoming more self-observant, developing more positive self-talk, and learning new skills.
- CBT uses a number of techniques to help patients change their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Meet Dr. G
Hi, I’m Dr. G! I’m a clinical psychologist, entrepreneur, author, and personality disorder expert.
I believe that with the right tools you can achieve satisfaction in life and handle anything that comes your way.Read More