First let me start by introducing myself. My name is Bonnie Adams and I am the owner of Bonnie Adams Counselling. I have been counselling in one form or another for many years but recently went back to University where I received my Master’s Degree in Psychotherapy. This is not to say I am an expert by any means but that I have some knowledge and a lot of experience, mostly life experiences that assist me in my practice.
Most people have a vague understanding of what counselling is, since mental health has become a more popular term in today’s culture. Mental health is starting to be honestly talked about more than ever before. Today’s society is learning to discuss mental health more openly, which is allowing people of all ages to seek out professional help for their well being. The media has certainly been a factor in bringing it to the publics attention as well as the openness and vulnerability of those in the spot light such as sports, actor and artist personalities.
Today I want to briefly touch on anxiety. There are different kinds of anxiety, which can be diagnosed by a physician, psychologist or psychiatrist. It is more common that many people realize and affects 12% of Canadians (Canadian Mental Health Association). Anxiety is certainly not a respecter of age or gender and may be experienced by children, teens, young and older adults. Many different situations such as problems at school, relationship issues, health concerns, job stress etc may trigger anxiety. Some experience anxiety in crowds or because a particular phobia. But very often people are not even aware what triggers their anxiety…all they know that it is very uncomfortable. Some of the symptoms range from racing heart, shortness of breath to an uncomfortable or intense sense of panic.
The good news is that many people have been helped to manage and treat anxiety. Mindfulness has been a great resource and is a promising intervention for treating people dealing with anxiety. This may be a new term for some of you. Mindfulness refers to a process that leads to a mental state of awareness of the present moment experience, including one’s sensations, thoughts, what they feel in their body, consciousness, and the environment, while encouraging openness, curiosity, and acceptance to how and what you are feeling in that moment. This means that as you quiet yourself to be aware of what you are experiencing, mentally, physically and around you, one learns not to judge it but just accept it as it is. It often includes deep breathing and/or meditation. A therapist can teach these techniques and there are also many good books on Mindfulness and Anxiety. You may even find one at the library or you can even download apps that assist you with your deep breathing and quieting yourself.
There are other treatments available that therapists may use to help their clients work through anxiety. If someone is reading this today that has experienced anxiety in some form, it is important for you to know that you are not alone. There are doctors and counsellors that you can talk to. Often, just being able to tell someone helps to validate what they are experiencing as something real and not imagined and this can even help some feel better.
Some physicians and/or psychiatrists may prescribe medication to help relieve symptoms experienced by anxiety. Because there are many different types of medications available it is important to work closely with your doctor to find the right medication and dosage that will give the greatest benefit. Current studies have shown that the combination of medication and therapy has had positive outcomes for many mental health issues.
Some people experience anxiety that comes and goes. It is usually beneficial if you learn coping techniques and practice them regularly. Practicing mindfulness, deep breathing exercises and talking to a professional are some of the ways you can get manage anxiety. To learn more about anxiety call a healthcare professional or search the website of Canadian Mental Health Association. Take that step and reach out for help today.