Anxiety 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?

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.


Generalised Anxiety

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.


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.