Has your worry tipped over into the realm of compulsive worrying about this, that, or whatever? It’s not only you. According to one source, anxiety disorders affect 40 million people in the U.S., about 18 percent of the population. Despite being a common mental illness, in fact the most common, only one third of sufferers receive treatment.
The reasons for not seeking out treatment are varied. Some people are afraid of the stigma associated with medication for anxiety. Others fear the impression seeing a therapist or counselor might give. Both treatments often get clichéd portrayals in pop culture and adversely affect how people see these forms of recovery. Rest assured, however, counseling and behavioral therapy are effective means of reducing one’s anxiety. Here are 5 ways counseling can help an anxiety sufferer.
- A natural remedy.
Medications and pills to treat anxiety can cause unpleasant and physical side effects. In extreme cases, medication can lead to dependence, where the body needs the drug to cope with whatever anxiety issue it is faced with. Anxiety counseling, on the other hand, does not require any medication and can therefore be considered a natural remedy.
For more on natural remedies for anxiety, please read this post from 2011.
Then here’s a recent post about managing stress during the holidays, for busy moms.
- A safe place to talk about your thoughts.
Counseling provides you with a safe space to discuss your issues, without fear of repercussion. For many, talking with a family member or friend about severe anxiety can negatively impact that relationship. While friends and family may want to help, most are not equipped to effectively handle anxiety disorders. And attempting to do so can lead to strained relationships where friends feel unduly responsible. Talking to a trained professional will help to ease your fears and keep family relationships on an even keel.
- Reframe negative thought patterns.
The goal of counseling is to bring you to a place where you can live your life without anxiety hindering your daily activities. To get there, you will need to pinpoint what your negative thought patterns are. If we could all do this on our own, there would be no need to see a counselor or a therapist. But the reality is that it can be difficult to see ourselves clearly. And even if we can see what thoughts are leading to triggers, it may be difficult to know how to reframe our perceptions in a positive way. Counseling serves as an effective outside perspective for more productive thoughts.
- Better understand what triggers your anxiety.
Sometimes, we will not know why we feel anxious. Perhaps you know that you intensely dislike social functions. Or anything involving small-talk with coworkers. It could be you suffer from social anxiety disorder. And while it has not been detrimental to your career so far, you know that if you want to advance in your career, you are going to need to confront your fears. Or maybe you suspect you have an obsessive compulsive disorder. But you don’t know why or what has caused you to behave in the way you do. Counseling can help you unearth what has caused your fears to grow, which is a needed step toward recovery.
- Manage and understand your anxiety.
The reason most people undergo counseling or seek any kind of help for their anxiety issues is so that they can continue to lead productive lives. At its worst, anxiety that is left unchecked can lead to compulsive actions, isolation, depression, and more. Effectively managed anxiety allows a person to lead a normal life, one where the anxiety is a manageable part, not an overwhelming one.
Finding a counselor or therapist you feel comfortable with may seem challenging. So don’t worry if the first couple of therapists you see don’t seem to be the right fit. These types of relationships are deeply personal and only work if you feel comfortable enough to open up. Working on one’s mental health is just another aspect of one’s overall health. Achieving a well-balanced mental state is a goal worth fighting for and one that will affect most every aspect of your life.