Nervousness, restlessness, a sinking feeling in your stomach – nearly everyone has experienced anxiety from time to time. However, for those with anxiety and panic disorders, these emotions occur on a daily basis.
People living with anxiety often suffer from panic attacks, constant worries, obsessive thoughts, or phobias that leave them feeling helpless. But, know that you don’t need to live with these constant feelings of anxiety and fear.
While medication is often prescribed to help treat the symptoms of anxiety, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) works to get to the root of the issue and find its underlying causes.
This form of therapy addresses negative thought patterns and behaviors and helps clients understand how they both contribute to and trigger anxiety. The core premise of CBT lies in the fact that a person’s thoughts affect the way they feel, and not external events. How a person perceives a situation determines how they react to it, and these thoughts and behaviors stem from individual expectations, attitudes and beliefs.
Working with a psychotherapist teaches patients how to relax and look at a perceived these situation from a new lens. Instead of letting negative thinking fuel negative emotions, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) teaches patients to challenge these patterns and replace them with positive, realistic thoughts.
Working in collaboration with their therapist, clients learn how to develop better coping and problem-solving skills that help overcome anxiety whenever it strikes.
Therapists will work with clients to learn how to recognize signs that they’re feeling anxious and what these changes feel like in the body. Once these feelings can be recognized, you’ll learn to use coping skills and relaxation techniques to counteract these feelings of anxiety and panic.
Relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation and muscle relaxation are also taught by therapists to help patients reduce anxiety, slow a racing mind, and find solace. This skill helps reduce the physical signs of anxiety (such as hyperventilating) and teaches clients to relax on their own.
Therapists will also suggest positive lifestyle changes that will help clients make conscious decisions to promote relaxation and a positive mental outlook. This can include reaching out to loved ones, starting a regular exercise routine, reducing stressors at work or school, and avoiding stimulants like caffeine and nicotine that can make anxiety worse.
As one of Canada’s top 10 best psychotherapists, Melissa Cutler has spent the past 20 years gaining clinical and research experience across hospital, community and public sector settings, including as a social worker. With advanced training in cognitive behavioural therapy, trauma counselling, and chronic pain management, she helps clients manage depression and alter negative thought patterns and behaviors.
Book online for a psychotherapy appointment at her office on Yonge and Lawrence near the subway.