Linda Gary, MFT
(818) 917-7600
Linda Gary, MFT Marriage and Family Therapist Learn about my approach to therapy I specialize in a variety of problems Contact me today

Anxiety can be viewed as both a wake up call and a serious handicap. It is a condition of being alive and it represents a range of feelings that we all experience. Anxiety rouses us to action. It gears us up to face threatening situations. It helps us cope. But if you have an anxiety disorder, this normally helpful emotion can disrupt your life. Anxiety disorders are often related to the biological makeup and life experiences of the individual, and they often run in families.

An anxiety disorder may make you feel anxious most of the time without any apparent reason. Or anxious feelings may be so uncomfortable that to avoid them you may stop some everyday activities. Or you may have occasional bouts of anxiety so intense they terrify and immobilize you.

Anxiety disorders are the most common of all the mental disorders. Many people misunderstand these disorders and think individuals should be able to overcome the symptoms by sheer will power. Wishing the symptoms away does not work, but there are treatments that can help.

Learning to view anxious feelings or panic situations differently can be helpful. I encourage clients to disengage from self-defeating thoughts. Instead of struggling against disturbing thoughts, I ask that they adopt an attitude of detached curiosity and observe thoughts, feelings and physical sensations as they come and go.

Together we do various breathing, relaxation, and meditative exercises. In this state, it no longer is necessary to fight whatever comes up. Clients learn to observe without judgment or interpretation. The focused attention quiets the mind and allows the body to relax. In meditative traditions, the purpose of abandoning habitual patterns of perceiving and thinking is to facilitate personal change.

Once a client is familiar with and able to benefit from various relaxation and meditative skills, it is important to address the fact that anxiety often serves the positive purpose of motivation to complete tasks. The body is flooded with the need to act for good reason. This kind of anxiety is best dissipated by action. Taking action will relieve uncomfortable feelings and physical sensations and provide a sense of accomplishment. Collaborative efforts are undertaken to determine actions and goals that will further relieve anxiety and enhance the client's quality of life.

Many people have a single anxiety disorder and nothing more, but it is not unusual for an anxiety disorder to be accompanied by another illness, such as depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, or other difficulties. In such cases, these problems will need to be treated as well. I often refer clients who are suffering from anxiety to a medical doctor for a complete physical examination.


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