Anxiety and Depression Counselling

Anxiety and depression are both normal human emotions that are appropriate, healthy responses to troubling situations. However, when either anxiety or depression linger for a substantial period of time – or are frequently triggered – it can have a devastating impact upon your life, making day-to-day activities extremely difficult to manage. According to anxiety and depression specialist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen, nearly 50% of people with depression also have anxiety, and vice versa. Although anxiety and depression are different mood disorders, they have five major symptoms in common:

  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Psychomotor agitation (restlessness)
  • Anhedonia (losing all pleasure in daily life)

The good news is that when you seek support to address either anxiety or depression, counselling can often help to resolve both, due to the overlap in symptoms. Decades of research support the effectiveness of counselling for anxiety and depression. Even if you feel unsure about what you’re experiencing, speaking to someone about your concerns can clarify what’s happening and set you back on the path to health and wellbeing.

Feeling anxious?
Generalised anxiety
Social anxiety
Obsessive compulsive disorder
Post traumatic stress disorder

Mild to moderate depression
Severe depression
Postpartum depression
Effective counselling for anxiety and depression
Specialist anxiety and depression counsellors and psychologists

 

Feeling anxious?

What happens when life looks okay on the surface, but everything feels terribly wrong? Anxiety is often characterised by feelings of uneasiness and heightened worry. It can niggle at the edges of your mind, sometimes leaving you in a near constant state of dread, fear or panic. Whenever you’re being threatened – or feeling stressed, pressured or vulnerable – anxiety is a completely normal response.

Often your body and mind will respond automatically to a stressful situation – your heart rate increases, breathing quickens, and your sympathetic nervous system releases a flood of stress hormones. Also know as the ‘fight or flight’ reaction, anxiety is a red flag that something is amiss. Once the stressful situation has passed, physical symptoms of anxiety usually dissipate. Yet for many people, anxiety lingers on long past the time it’s needed. If you’re experiencing a prolonged bout of anxiety that’s interfering with your ability to live your life on a day-to-day basis, counselling can be extremely beneficial.
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Generalised anxiety and treatment

Anxiety can be a general emotional response, or it can be triggered by specific situations or events. Catastrophic thinking frequently occurs with anxiety, leaving you feeling like something awful may happen, or anticipating the worst case scenario in any given situation. You may feel preoccupied with everyday matters such as finances, work or your relationships, and experience compulsive worry and tension.

Common symptoms of generalised anxiety include:

  • Frequent feelings of tension and worry
  • Feeling unable to control the worry
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Easily startled
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Pounding heart, sweating, trembling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle tension
  • Chest and abdominal pains
  • Hot flushes and/or cold chills
  • Fear of losing control, passing out or dying

Generalised anxiety consistently interferes with your general mood, triggering dramatic emotional highs and lows. Although it is common to feel sad or moody from time to time, anxiety can result in these feelings occurring intensely, and over a substantial period of time. Sometimes it is difficult to explain the way you are feeling to others; anxiety often leads to social withdrawal and isolation if left untreated.

Effective treatment for generalised anxiety

There are a number of evidence-based counselling techniques that are highly effective in addressing the symptoms and causes of generalised anxiety, such as Mindfulness-Based Therapy and Narrative Therapy. However, Clinical psychologist Dr. Pim Cuijper’s 2014 meta-analytic review of the effectiveness of different treatments for generalised anxiety suggests that Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy is the most effective treatment known for generalised anxiety, surpassing the efficacy of other treatments (eg medication, relaxation training) in both the short and long-term.
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Social anxiety

Social anxiety is the most common form of anxiety, affecting 1 in 10 Australians at some point in their lives. It is an extremely debilitating form of anxiety, as the fear of doing something to embarrass or humiliate yourself in public can cripple your ability to enjoy life and your interactions with other people. Common social phobias include public speaking, performing, eating and drinking, using public restrooms, dating, and general social encounters.

Symptoms of social anxiety include:

  • Extreme, apprehensive self-consciousness
  • Intense fear of being watched, judged or criticised by others
  • Persistent worry about social interactions (eg conversations, meeting people or performing)
  • Avoidance of social situations (including time off work or school)
  • Difficulty eating in front of others
  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • Feeling withdrawn and shy
  • Dislike and avoidance of communication with others, including phone calls

Counselling for social anxiety can be extremely effective in reducing feelings of self-consciousness, worry and tension. Living a life in fear of social events and interactions with other people can take a serious toll on your wellbeing, and ability to function in daily life. Professional therapeutic support can help you recover from social anxiety and start living life to the fullest again.

Effective treatment for social anxiety

Social anxiety responds particularly well to effective, evidence-based counselling. Therapeutic techniques to treat social anxiety include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Psycho-educational Social Skills Training. Depending on your personal circumstances and needs, 6 to 10 sessions of specialist social anxiety counselling will effectively reduce the symptoms of social anxiety in the short-term, with ongoing long-term benefits.

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Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Anxiety often arises after traumatic events, such as experiencing a death, injury or abuse. Experiencing a traumatic event may lead to feelings of extreme fear or helplessness. If these feelings continue long after the traumatic event has passed, and everyday events start triggering unwanted flashbacks and involuntary stress responses, counselling is the recommended course of action to treat the symptoms of PTSD. Around 10% of people will experience PTSD at some point in their life, with an exceptional recovery rate of 95% amongst those who seek treatment.

Common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Disturbing thoughts, feelings and nightmares
  • Intrusive flashbacks and memories
  • Increased, frequent stress arousal
  • Amnesia around the event
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Hypervigilance
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Exaggerated startle response

Recovery counselling for PTSD can free clients from a life filled with fear, anxiety, and trauma. There is a significant body of research suggesting that effective counselling is an essential component of recovery from PTSD. Clinical neuroscientists such as Besser van der Kolk have shown that PTSD has a neurobiological base, and responds especially well to a combination of behavioural and relaxation techniques.

Effective treatment for PTSD

There is a strong evidence base for effective PTSD counselling. Approaches frequently include a blend of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Therapy, Exposure Therapy, Trauma Recovery Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing. These counselling techniques are grounded in advanced neuropsychological research about the effect of trauma on the body, mind and emotions. Effective counselling and specialist therapeutic support is the key to recovery from trauma.
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Obsessive compulsive disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects around 3% of the Australia population. This fearful form of anxiety can generate unwanted, involuntary thoughts and specific, repetitive behaviours that interfere with daily life. You may sense that your thought patterns and ritualised urges are unusual, even irrational. Yet once the habits have been formed, the compulsion to repeat the behaviour can be extremely difficult to resist.

Common obsessions (involuntary thoughts, mental images) include:

  • Germaphobia (fear of contamination, preoccupied with hygiene and sanitation)
  • Perfectionism (intense preoccupation with symmetry and exactness)
  • Fear of losing control (harming yourself or others)
  • Fear of losing things (includes indecision about discarding items)
  • Fear of being responsible for a terrible event occurring
  • Intense preoccupation with becoming sick (e.g. cancer, HIV)
  • Excessive attention to superstitious beliefs

Common compulsions (repetitive, ritualised behaviours) include:

  • Cleaning: excessive handwashing, showering and household/environmental ‘decontamination’
  • Repetition: double-checking appliances and locks; tapping, blinking, and touching things in preset ‘safe’ multiples; ordering and arranging items
  • Checking: that you didn’t cause harm; loved ones are safe; you didn’t make a mistake; monitoring your physical body
  • Excessive praying and performing religious rituals to ward off harm
  • Hoarding: collecting items to the point of significant household clutter, accruing an excessive number of domestic animals

Compulsive, ritualised behaviour may temporarily alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, but OCD is cyclical. Often the intrusive, obsessive thoughts intensify over time, triggering the OCD cycle with distressing frequency. The repetitive behaviours associated with OCD are often time-consuming, eventually becoming a source of anxiety in and of themselves. Fortunately, effective counselling helps treat OCD; the latest research suggests that therapeutic support is essential to recovery.

Effective treatment for OCD

Specialist counselling for obsessive compulsive behaviours can help you explore the underlying issues that trigger your anxiety, accept and resolve them, and move on with your life free of unwanted behaviours. Effective counselling techniques that address OCD behaviours include Cognitive Restructuring, Gradual Stimulus Control, Worry Outcome Monitoring, Self-Control Desensitisation and Mindfulness-Based Therapy.
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Mild to moderate depression

Depression is a catch-all term that describes a really broad spectrum of moods. If you’ve been feeling down, distressed, pessimistic, and troubled for more than a couple of weeks, you may have mild depression. Nearly 20% of the Australian population will experience depression at least once in their lifetime. Depression doesn’t discriminate – from children to the elderly, feeling low is a universal part of the human condition. When those feelings impact your ability to live life to the fullest though, it’s time to seek professional support. Counselling targets the underlying causes of depression, and helps you regain control of your emotions again.

Common symptoms of depression include:

  • Frequent negative thoughts
  • Impaired concentration and indecisiveness
  • Intense sadness and tearfulness
  • Loss of interest in everyday activities
  • Negative self-talk
  • Feeling numb
  • Social withdrawal
  • Reduced libido
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Changes in sleeping habits, including insomnia
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Sense of hopelessness

Effective treatment for mild depression

Mild to moderate depression is particularly responsive to counselling treatment. Effective interventions to treat depression include Mindfulness-Based Therapy, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. Research also shows that counselling combined with physical exercise, healthy eating, and sleeping well can dramatically improve the symptoms of depression.
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Severe depression

Whilst feelings of sadness and low mood are quite common, severe forms of depression can have a devastating effect on your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. Severe depression often feels relentless, and may last for months or even years. In addition to the symptoms listed under mild depression, signs of a major depressive episode include:

  • Intense feelings of worthlessness
  • Daily insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping)
  • Drug and alcohol misuse
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Recurrent, intrusive thoughts of death and suicide

Effective treatment for severe depression

Usually, severe depression is treated with a combination of medication and counselling. It is essential to speak with your GP about the options available to you pharmaceutically, and equally as important that you see a professional counselling practitioner to address your concerns. Therapeutic interventions for severe depression have an 80% success rate. Effective counselling is frequently the key to long-term recovery, with clients generally reporting significant improvement in depressive symptoms after 4 to 6 sessions of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy.
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Postpartum depression

Approximately 80% of new mums experience the ‘baby blues’ after giving birth. Feelings of depression normally start within a few days of delivery, and frequently resolve within a few weeks. However for up to 15% of new mums, those depressed feelings can persist for months, or even years if left untreated.

There is a specific range of symptoms associated with postpartum depression. These include:

  • Feeling sad and frequently teary
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Feeling guilty, ashamed, worthless or inadequate as a mum
  • Feeling hopeless, overwhelmed and numb
  • Intense anger and irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling confused, scared and anxious
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Eating and sleeping difficulties
  • Panic attacks
  • Experiencing disturbing, intrusive thoughts
  • Thinking about harming yourself or your baby

Postpartum depression (PPD) is extremely common, yet many women don’t reveal how they are feeling due to shame or embarrassment. PPD is a disorder that responds well to treatment, just like any other ailment. Seeking help is an act of courage and love – for yourself, and your baby.

Effective treatment for postpartum depression

There are a number of therapeutic interventions that specifically target and treat PPD. Effective, evidence-based treatments for PPD include: Interpersonal Therapy, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Couples Therapy, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. A recent meta-analytic review of psychological treatment for PPD revealed that combinations of the counselling techniques listed above significantly reduced symptoms of PPD, and also had a positive effect on parenting, couple wellbeing, and children’s health.
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Effective counselling for anxiety and depression

If you are suffering from anxiety and/or depression, and want to identify workable strategies that you can use to manage your moods, expert support is crucial. Counselling for anxiety and depression will provide you a variety of treatment options, professional support and practical guidance. Life Supports counsellors and psychologists can show you the way forward, and help you to live a life free from debilitating moods. Specialist counselling techniques for anxiety and depression include Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Interpersonal therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Therapy, and Narrative Therapy.

Just like any other illness, depression and anxiety can get better with treatment. 
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Specialist anxiety and depression counsellors and psychologists

If you are suffering from anxiety or depression, and want to identify workable strategies that you can use to manage these moods, it is crucial to have expert support. Setting achievable goals, implementing effective strategies, and maintaining progress are the keys to a positive and successful path forward.

Life Supports accredited anxiety and depression counsellors and psychologists are qualified, experienced and can competently provide the specialist services you need.

 

Find a Life Supports accredited anxiety and depression specialist in your local area

To make an appointment or enquiry, please call 1300 735 030.