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anxiety counseling therapy edmonds

Therapy for Anxiety, Worry, & Panic 

Fear and anxiety are important emotions for healthy functioning. Both are intended to keep us safe. Fear alerts us to imminent danger, and anxiety causes increased vigilance in anticipation of a future threat. However, it can be distressing, exhausting, and even debilitating if you experience these emotions too often or too much. The good news is that anxiety and excessive fear are very treatable and are one of the most common issues that we see in our practice here in Edmonds. 

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders involve persistent and excessive fear or anxiety in response to ordinary or non-threatening situations which negatively impact daily functioning. These may be very specific (like fear of germs) or may be more general in nature. Some symptoms of anxiety include:

  • excessive worry

  • restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge

  • irritability

  • increased startle response

  • increased heart rate

  • muscle tension

  • disturbed sleep

  • difficulty concentrating or mind going blank

  • shortness of breath

  • dizziness

  • fatigue


Social Anxiety

Also known as social phobia, social anxiety is a specific type of anxiety disorder that involves fear of being judged or negative evaluation. You may worry about appearing stupid or that something is wrong with you. Social anxiety often manifests in a harsh inner critic. It may be difficult to ignore or fight this critical voice, but the path towards freedom involves challenging it and the negative things that it says about you and replacing it with a more compassionate inner voice. 

Panic Attacks

Significant levels of stress, anxiety, or fear can result in a panic attack. Many people describe experiencing them seemingly out of the blue. A panic attack can be a terrifying experience, particularly if you don't know what is happening to you. Many people report thinking they are having a heart attack or fear they are dying. Many of the symptoms of panic are similar to anxiety though they are typically more intense. Some additional symptoms include:

  • accelerated heart rate

  • sweating

  • trembling

  • shortness of breath

  • feeling of choking

  • chest pain or discomfort

  • nausea or abdominal distress

  • feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint

  • feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself

  • fear of losing control or going crazy

  • fear of dying

  • numbness or tingling sensations

  • chills or hot flashes


While they often last a matter of minutes, panic attacks can feel like they will last forever. If you experience one, do your best to take some deep, slow breaths and try to remind yourself that it will pass and that you are safe. Even though it may feel like you are dying, panic attacks do not actually pose a physical threat, and one of the best things you can do to help it pass is to relax your body.

Treatment for Anxiety & Chronic Worry

Anxiety responds well to treatment and is perhaps the most common complaint that we see in our Edmonds practice. We believe that the most effective treatment is a holistic one. Consequently, we integrate several approaches in treating anxiety:

  • Mindfulness-based therapy

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

  • Exposure therapy/exposure and response prevention (ERP)

  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy

By integrating these approaches, our holistic treatment approach we will help you to address your anxiety in four key domains:

  1. Body: reduce anxiety by calming your body

  2. Thoughts: reduce anxiety by challenging your anxious thoughts

  3. Behavior: reduce anxiety by reducing avoidance behavior

  4. Feelings: reduce anxiety by processing related experiences (often from childhood)

Deal with Anxiety by Calming the Body

Our emotional experiences are whole-body experiences. Anxiety and chronic worry are inevitably accompanied by various bodily symptoms, like muscle tension, rapid heart rate, and shallow breath. By intentionally calming the body and reducing the presence of the stress hormones which accompany anxiety, you will find that your anxious thoughts and feelings will also calm down. General self-care is important here. So, in addition to working on mindfulness, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques (all of which we will walk you through), it can also be extremely helpful to rest, reduce stress, limit screen time, get enough sleep, eat well, seek social support, limit your caffeine and sugar intake, avoid drinking too much alcohol, and get regular exercise. 

Challenging Anxious Thoughts

One helpful thing for coping with anxiety is to challenge your anxious thoughts. Anxiety can hijack our brains and keep us from thinking clearly. When we are anxious, we all experience various cognitive distortions or faulty patterns of thought. So, one way of combating anxiety is to identify your faulty thought patterns, notice when you are experiencing one, and challenge the associated thoughts. There are many ways of doing this, but an example would be to consider your evidence for or against the thing you are worried about or to ask a trusted friend to help give you some perspective. It is helpful to externalize your voice of anxiety, so if the evidence seems to contradict your anxious thoughts, tell yourself that it's just anxiety talking. 

Overcome Your Fears by Facing Them

We all tend to avoid the things that give us anxiety, but this simply serves to reinforce that anxiety. Overcoming your fear may feel overwhelming, but start with something small. More often than not, facing our fear is not as bad as we anticipate it will be. Once you are feeling more comfortable, try moving on to progressively bigger and bigger things. This may seem easier said than done, but over time, you will discover that you feel less anxiety and feel much more confident and free to do the things that you want to do.

Address the Emotional Roots of Your Anxiety

All of the approaches listed above can be extremely helpful in coping with anxiety and often provide a sense of empowerment and control over what you feel. It can also be important to explore what might be some of the reasons for your anxiety in order to deal with the root of the problem. Two people may share all of the same symptoms but be experiencing them for different reasons. Each of us is unique; we all have different life experiences and a unique story. Exploring and working through your history and significant emotional experiences can lead to deep and lasting change, free from excessive worry and anxiety. 

If you would like some help with your anxiety or would like more information, please contact us.

anxiety worry panic treatment edmonds
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