My patients come for support with the following:
We experience anxiety as a heightened lack of control. This can make us feel uneasy, distressed or frightened. Unwanted, irrational and/or repetitive thoughts are a hallmark of anxiety. These thoughts may stand alone or lead to uncontrollable behavior. Intense anxiety can be experienced as terror that strikes unexpectedly. These panic or “anxiety” attacks can cause chest pain or pressure, rapid heartbeat, sweating, and feelings of being disconnected, going crazy or dying.
We can engage in behavior, that although optional and pleasurable at first, over time becomes required and necessary to maintain enjoyment. Often with diminishing returns, this kind of behavior can lead to growing levels of interference in our lives. We can become addicted to alcohol, work, sex and even other people. Though the focus may be different, issues of shame or guilt and often a sense of unworthiness comes to underlie all addictive behavior, as it worsens.
Depression can be understood as the experience of turning against ourselves. Its predominant symptom is the loss of pleasure or joy in those things that usually matter to us. Other common symptoms include: lack of motivation or energy; negative thinking, irritability, or sadness; changes in sleep or appetite; withdrawal from people and less hope for the future. We can experience some or most of these symptoms, for shorter or longer periods of time.
Dysphoria is a state of general unhappiness, restlessness, dissatisfaction or frustration with our circumstances or life. Most often, we experience it as a mood but prolonged dysphoric states are also possible.
How do we manage the challenges of being alive? The circumstances of life can lead to us to think, feel and act in ways that cause stress, limit our ability to function and even create despair. In the face of life’s realities, we can make choices that support our mental health. Learning, discovering and practicing these can begin to clear up our symptoms.
Mindfulness can be understood as the focus of our awareness in the present moment. When we attend in this way, feelings, thoughts and sensations become more clear. The practice of mindfulness is to let these experiences be and remain open to them and what comes next. Being aware in the present provides us with valuable information. We can see situations more clearly, arrive at choices that seem right for us, feel more comfortable in who we are and have a sense that everything is alright.
How do we live well as human beings? What goes into the experience of being satisfied and fulfilled with who we are and the choices we make? How do we bring about those things in life that actually matter to us? These questions might be the deepest ones we have, and we often don’t know how to answer them. Being curious about how to thrive is enlivening and can point us in new and unforeseen directions.