Suffering from stress, depression or anxiety?
Why talk to a stranger?
Sometimes you may become lost in the pace of change and the complexity of life.
You may also find it difficult to sort things out on your own and you may not want to share your sense of vulnerability with family and friends. Our counsellors are experienced psychologists who can help if you suffer from depression, postnatal depression or anxiety. Or maybe you are struggling with marriage difficulties and are needing couples counselling.
Our psychologists are experienced in providing support for a broad range of issues, including:
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Grief and bereavement
While we all feel sad, moody, or down from time to time, sometimes people may experience these feelings more intensely, and for a longer period of time. Depression is more than just a low mood. It’s a serious condition that impacts on both our physical and mental health.
Most commonly, depression doesn’t result from a single event, but rather from a combination of events, as well as other longer-term and personal factors.
A person may be experiencing depression if, for more than two weeks, he or she feels sad or miserable most of the time, loses interest in activities that normally bring enjoyment, and experiences symptoms such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Inability to concentrate
- Feeling overwhelmed, irritable, and/or frustrated
- Negative thoughts (such as ‘I’m a failure’ and ‘life’s not worth living’)
- Sleep problems
- Constant tiredness and fatigue
- Loss or change of appetite
Stress and anxious feelings are a common response to a situation where a person feels under pressure, and normally these feelings subside once the stressful situation has passed. Anxiety is when these anxious feelings don’t pass, making it hard for a person to cope with daily life. So while we all feel anxious from time to time, for a person experiencing anxiety these feelings cannot be easily controlled.
It’s often a combination of factors that can lead to a person developing anxiety. Common contributing factors include: ongoing stressful events (e.g., job stress, family and relationship problems); physical health problems; family history of anxiety/mental health issues; substance use; and personality factors.
Some common anxiety symptoms include:
- Inability to stop worrying
- Feeling restless or on edge
- Feeling easily tired
- Difficulties concentrating
- Irritable and easily frustrated
- Trouble sleeping
- Anxiety-related physical symptoms (e.g., racing heart, increase in body temperature, tightening of the chest, feelings of nausea)
Obsessive–compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a psychological condition where people feel the need to check things repeatedly, have certain thoughts repeatedly, or feel they need to perform certain routines over and over again. People are unable to control either the thoughts or the activities. While it is an all-enveloping condition most people are able to function reasonable well with support.
Common activities or symptoms include hand washing, counting of things, and checking to see if a door is locked. Some people may have difficulty throwing things out. These activities occur to such a degree that the person’s daily life is negatively affected. Often they take up more than an hour a day. Most people know that these behaviours do not make sense. The condition may be associated with tics, anxiety disorder, and in serious cases an increased risk of suicide.
Behaviour therapy, CBT, and psychotherapy have been found to be effective in treating this condition. The approach involves gradually learning to tolerate the anxiety associated with not performing the ritual behaviour.
Phobias are a type of anxiety disorder, which consists of a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer goes to great lengths in avoiding. The fear is disproportional to the actual danger posed, and often is recognised by the person as irrational. The phobia can be mildly annoying up to seriously disruptive. Sometimes a trauma like a road accident can lead to a mild phobic reaction to some aspect of the accident situation.
Common phobias include a fear of spiders, flights, and closed spaces (or alternatively public, open spaces).
Psychotherapy involving successive desensitisation and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) allows the person to challenge dysfunctional thoughts or beliefs by being mindful of their own feelings with the aim that the person will realise their fear is irrational. The goal of counselling is to decrease negative thinking, increase problem solving, and to provide a functional coping outlook.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as major stress, sexual assault, warfare, or other threats on a person’s life. It is a frightening and serious condition that affects the person and their loved ones.
Symptoms may include:
- Disturbing recurring flashbacks
- Avoidance or numbing of memories of the event
- Over- sensitivity to many situations
- Persistent feelings of anger, anxiety and hypervigilance
These symptoms may continue long after the occurrence of a traumatic event.
Mindfulness and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) are often effective in addressing the reactions to the trauma and assisting in developing coping behaviours to combat the anxiety.
Insomnia, or trouble sleeping, is a disorder of sleep where you have difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep as long as desired. Poor sleep patterns can lead to irritability, lowered effectiveness and stress. Sleep deprivation has a major impact on performance generally.
Insomnia may be caused by normal life stressors and worries, some medical conditions, pain and mental disorders.
Counselling and cognitive behaviour therapy assist in reducing anxiety and contributing factors to establishing more effective sleep patterns. Simple techniques can lead to effective management and changed habits.
Grief and bereavement
Grief is a normal response to loss. It might be due to the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, a miscarriage, the loss of a job. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief is likely to be. Everyone experiences grief differently and displays different reactions and ways of coping.
Symptoms may include feeling sad, angry, anxious, inappropriate laughter, shocked, regretful, relieved, overwhelmed, isolated, irritable or numb. It can affect your self-esteem and confidence which impacts on work and relationships.
Counselling and therapy provide support and focus on resolving and overcoming the reactions to the loss. Strategies for coping and developing resources to regain control are developed. These approaches will be matched with each person’s nature and specific need.
An adjustment Disorder occurs when an individual is unable to adjust to or cope with a particular stressor, like a major life event. Unlike major depression the disorder is caused by an outside stressor and generally resolves once the individual is able to adapt to the situation.
Common characteristics of Adjustment Disorder include mild depression, anxiety, and traumatic stress reactions. Predominant symptoms involve: depressed mood, anxiety, disturbance of conduct, or disturbance of emotions and conduct.
The goal of psychotherapy is symptom relief and behaviour change. Anxiety may be presented as “a signal from the body” that something in the individual’s life needs to change. Treatment allows the individual to put his or her distress or anger into words rather than into destructive actions. Therapy aims to encourage the verbalisation of fears, anxiety, anger, helplessness, and hopelessness. Individual therapy can help a person gain the support they need, identify abnormal responses and maximise the use of the individual’s existing strengths.
Pain arising from injury and various medical illnesses can be very debilitating. Common headaches can be very limiting and various illnesses include recurring pain as a normal side effect.
The use of counselling, mindfulness, CBT, and hypnosis are effective therapies in assisting the person to better manage both chronic and transient pain.
Therapy helps people with pain to understand the relationship between one’s physiology (e.g., pain and muscle tension), thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. A main goal in treatment is to encourage helpful thought patterns, targeting a behavioural activation of healthy behaviours such as regular exercise and pacing. Lifestyle changes are also developed to improve sleep patterns and to develop better coping skills for pain and other stressors using various techniques like relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, and biofeedback.