Therapy for Stress, Anxiety, and Worry in Palm Harbor
You feel like nothing you do is ever good enough. No matter how hard you work to take care of things, there is always more added to your plate. Life never seems to give you a break.
It has all become so overwhelming. You're struggling to sleep despite being constantly exhausted.
It's terrifying when the anxiety hits. Your heart races, your chest feels tight, and the sweat starts pouring. You worry that you're having a heart attack or going crazy.
If that sounds like you right now, there is hope.
I only work with those select people who are motivated to make an investment into their well-being and finally overcome their anxiety.
Stress, Anxiety, and Panic
Anxiety and panic attacks occur when our bodies react to what is typically an ordinary and nonthreatening situation with an uncontrollable alarm response.
You may notice your heart racing and a weight on your chest. You may feel dizzy and worry that you're dying. Anxiety and panic attacks are overpowering and overwhelming, and it often feels as if they take control of your life.
The good news is they often respond well to treatment, and I see them often in my practice.
Symptoms of Stress
Stress is our body's response to either an internal or external stressor that results in physical, mental, or emotional tension.
The response to stress is intended to help us respond effectively the stressor (e.g., perform well during a job interview, have energy to complete an important work project), but it causes problems when it lasts too long or becomes too intense (e.g., we bomb an interview because of being so stressed, you're unable to complete an important work project due to exhaustion).
An external cause of stress is often known, and the stress typically lasts until the stressor is gone.
Short-term stress is uncomfortable, but rarely requires help from a professional, while chronic stress has many associated negative health effects and can benefit from therapy.
Stress symptoms include:
- Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
- Feeling overwhelmed (e.g., like you are losing control)
- Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
- Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed
- Avoiding others
- Low energy
- Upset stomach (e.g., butterflies, diarrhea, or constipation)
- Increased heart rate
- Loss of sexual desire
- Trouble sleeping
- Nervousness and shaking, cold or sweaty hands and feet
- Muscle tension
- Constant worry
- Racing thoughts
- Forgetfulness, disorganization, and trouble concentrating
- Either not eating or eating too much
- Procrastinating from important tasks
- Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
- Demonstrating nervous behaviors like fidgeting or nail biting
Don’t wait to get the help you need
Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety is similar to stress, but many times the true cause is unknown. While anxiety tends to be less severe than a full blown panic attack as I'll describe later, anxiety attacks can actually last longer. Anxiety intensifies over a period of time and often results in excessive worry among other symptoms.
Anxiety symptoms include:
- increased startle response
- increased heart rate
- muscle tension
- disturbed sleep
- difficulty concentrating
- shortness of breath
You'll notice that these symptoms are similar to panic symptoms that I'll explain next, but they may not be quite as strong for anxiety.
While anxiety symptoms may be drawn out over days, weeks, and even months with fluctuations in intensity, panic attacks are sudden and tend to be more severe.
Symptoms of Panic
Panic attacks are sudden, often unpredictable, intensify rapidly, and typically last 15-20 minutes (though it may feel like forever!).
Panic attacks become a concern when they begin to happen regularly, and influence your behavior (e.g., worry about when the next panic attack will happen, avoiding certain situations for fear of a panic attack).
The diagnosis of panic disorder requires at least four symptoms from the following list, as well as the change in your behavior listed above lasting more than a month:
- Pounding heart, or increased heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling of choking
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or that you might faint
- Feelings of unreality or being outside one's body
- Fear of dying
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Chills or hot flashes
The important thing to keep in mind is that panic attacks are not actually physically harmful, and that the attack will pass.
While you may feel discomfort after it passes, they always do pass. Allowing the panic attack to pass without actively trying to stop it (sounds weird, I know), will begin to help you regain some power over them.
Treatment of stress, anxiety, worry, and panic
If you'd like to treat the stress, anxiety, and panic yourself, it begins with focusing on a healthy lifestyle.
A well-balanced diet and regular exercise, as well as engaging in self-care (e.g., walks on the beach, coffee with a friend, meditation, relaxation exercises), can go a long way to reducing your chronic stress and helping you to feel in control of your life again.
If you feel that your stress and anxiety are too significant to tackle on your own, I encourage you to consider scheduling a screening call with me to discuss your options and develop a plan forward. Just keep in mind, there are always options to help get you to your goals!
How do you help me reach my goals?
I utilize both cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to help my clients reach their goals. Every session is individualized to your needs, because nobody benefits from a cookie cutter approach to therapy. We will focus on the specific strategies that will best apply to your situation. And when something doesn't work, we toss it out and try something new.
This sounds like too much work
When you're overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious, it makes sense that you'd be hesitant to add one more thing (therapy) to your plate. What my patients tend to find is that our work together helps them feel more energized and organized in their life so the challenges no longer feel insurmountable. Skeptics often turn into believers once they begin to enjoy the progress they've made. Therapy is an investment in your personal well-being, and much like exercise it takes a bit of effort to see the best results.
I've tried therapy before and it didn't work
If I had a nickel for every time I heard this, I'd be retired by now. I'm sorry you've had that experience and it's understandable that you wouldn't want to waste your time trying therapy again. I can tell you that I am constantly monitoring to ensure I'm the right fit for my patients and I have no problem referring them to someone who would be a better fit. If you ever feel I'm not right, I welcome that feedback so we can get you on the right path to feeling better. Your progress is most important, whether it's with me or not. I also have my patients fill out short rating scales periodically so we have actual data to measure progress or stagnation. This data is so valuable in ensuring we don't spin our wheels. I can't promise results, but I can promise I will always be working at least as hard as you.
If you value expertise over the lowest price, then let's chat.
Schedule your screening call to see if we're a good fit.
Pinellas Anxiety Specialist Resources:
Stress: How Smart Phones Are Ruining Your Life
How Do I Not Burden My Family
How to Find the Right Therapist
Why is Parenting so Hard?
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
The Upside of Stress
Challenges of Parenting