While some degree of anxiety may be necessary and even helpful, there are times when anxiety can feel overwhelming and become debilitating. In addition to considering medication options, it is also important to learn techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing and strategies such as cognitive restructuring (substituting catastrophic thoughts with more balanced thoughts). Also, gaining insight into the root cause of your anxiety increases your awareness of situations that are triggering. This increased awareness then enables you to choose a different response to anxiety triggers rather than succumb to the automatic thought patterns that create emotional and sometimes physical distress.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (which was formerly categorized as an anxiety disorder) involves unwanted, distressing (known as "intrusive") thoughts that are usually accompanied by mental and/or physical rituals which can become significantly debilitating. Fortunately, we know that the combination of a specific type of psychotherapy (Exposure and Response Prevention - EXRP) in combination with medication has an over 80% remission rate. I offer both EXRP and medication options.
Anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Clinical depression is more than simply feeling sad- it is a cluster of symptoms that impair functioning. It can feel overwhelming and is not something that you can simply "snap" out of. My goal is to help you rediscover your innate strength and empower you to navigate life’s challenges and ultimately reclaim joy.
Research has shown that healthy relationships decrease blood pressure, reduce vulnerability to catching a cold, reduce anxiety, slows cognitive decline, improve sleep, improve depression, decrease cortisol (stress hormone), and decrease mortality after stressful life events.
In fact, during times of stress, our body releases oxytocin (known as the "cuddle hormone") which actually motivates us to reach out to others for social support. If we get that support, we release more oxytocin which then decreases cortisol- effectively turning down the stress response.
If these relationships are unhealthy, then addressing and improving these can be quite effective in the management of physical and emotional distress.
Couples Therapy Referral
The research has shown that we are basically wired for connection and having close connections with others is important to every aspect of our health including our emotional and physical health.
While our style of attachment is largely constructed during infancy and childhood, it is possible to learn a healthier way of connecting with your partner once you understand how your past pains may be entering into your present relationship. Your strategies to connect with your caregivers were likely adaptive, however, when certain attachment strategies are rigidly applied to adult relationships, it can be difficult to have healthy relationships. In that case, we would work towards understanding your attachment style, how it becomes activated, and your automatic responses. I can also connect you to a couples therapist who can facilitate the process by working with you and your partner.
If you have experienced a traumatic event, the memory of the trauma becomes fragmented (like shards of glass) because during a traumatic event, the emotionally significant memories of the event are stored in the amygdala ("threat detection center" of the brain) whereas conscious memories and thoughts about the event are stored in the hippocampus ("filing cabinet" of the brain). This means that emotional and bodily responses to situations that look, smell, sound, or feel like the traumatic event, trigger the fear response in the amygdala. The response of the amygdala is fast, automatic, and happens without your awareness - you can become overwhelmed without knowing why. We would work on helping you identify your triggers and gradually connect them to past traumatic memories (when possible). From a neurological point of view, traumatic triggers inhibit the part of the brain that processes the "here and now" (prefrontal cortex) so we stay stuck in the past and the automatic amygdala does its job (without input from the prefrontal cortex) and initiates a survival response. Therefore, by increasing your awareness of triggers, you bring the prefrontal cortex back online so that you can have greater control over your reaction.