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Steven Olsen
Steven Olsen, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1765
Experience:  More than twenty years of expertise in counseling, psychological diagnosis and education
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I suffer from very severe anxiety - it can last for weeks

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I suffer from very severe anxiety - it can last for weeks off and on. It is generally linked to issues, or percieved issues, i have at work or socially (the issues can vary although there's a recurrent one). Should i try to disengage from these thoughts (spot and reject them) or engage them - various therapies seem to differ re this. Thank you, trevor
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Steven Olsen replied 6 years ago.


What you are describing is most likely GAD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, with touches of Social Anxiety as well. These disorders both work on a principle called the neurotic paradox: Simply, when people are anxious they avoid the anxiety producing situation. That avoidance does make the person(s) feel better but also reinforces the avoidant behavior. (This makes it even more likely that a person will avoid similar situations in the future.) The paradox is: What you think is making you better (avoidance) is actually makes you worse.

Why tell you this? The anxiety will make you want to run away from the thoughts, situations and experiences that produce it. That will seem like a good idea but in reality will make you ill, faster. Instead of running from the anxiety you will need to, through therapy and other means, learn to face it. Remember: No behavior can be replaced without another taking its place.

Here is what I suggest based on research. I do practice Gestalt therapy and also know CBT. However, the best treatment protocol for anxiety is CBT combined with Interpersonal Therapy and anti anxiety medications if you wish. This is 80-85% effective. It is well researched and evidence based and I would encourage you to seek a therapist who can provide this. (Your current therapist may.)

Seek also a variety of supports. Many people with anxiety find that spiritual resources help. If you are so inclined this can be very helpful and in truth I have found that this is one of the best alternatives for anxiety. However, this is, of course, your own choice.

The bot***** *****ne is that the anxious thoughts must be replaced with something healthier. Along with this the avoidance of the situations/thoughts that cause it need to be supported. Your therapist can help you, but if after ten sessions you still are feeling the same I would suggest seeking a referral for another. You should see some improvement in 5-8 sessions.

Take heart. You will get through this!

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