Common Problems I Can Help with

You may be surprised to know that recent report shows 3 out of 4 people in England will experience anxiety or depression at some point of their life1.

In other words psychological difficulties are more common than perhaps we used to think. Luckily we are beginning to appreciate how important psychological wellbeing is for our overall health.

Some of the Commonly Experienced Issues I Can Help with:

Depression feels very different from the normal ups and downs of life. When most of the following apply, chances are you are suffering from depression:

  1. you just can’t shake off low mood,
  2. it is persistent and effects the quality of your life,
  3. when you have lost the joy of living,
  4. you experience negative, blaming or dark thoughts about yourself and your life,
  5. when you just can’t see the point to it all,
  6. you might experience physical symptoms of sleep disturbance,
  7. you notice changes in eating habits,
  8. you have slowed down,
  9. you see yourself withdrawing from people you used to enjoy spending time with and activities you previously enjoyed.

With depression being increasingly common, luckily there are several effective talking therapies available. Ania offers Interpersonal Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Counselling, all of which are used for depression within the NHS and are recommended by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Where depression seems to stem from traumatic events, we can use Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing, an effective form of therapy for trauma. Call Ania to arrange an appointment to discuss your needs and possible treatment.

Fear, which is present in worry and anxiety, is an incredibly powerful emotion and for a good reason. If we felt no fear at all, we would not be able to steer clear of danger. And so fear is a useful emotion which keeps are safe if the fear is proportionate to the situation. For example, it would be natural for you to feel nervous or anxious just before a parachute jump and it would be your mind and body reminding you that you have not been designed to fly! That in turn would be likely to prompt you to check that you are following all the safety procedures and that you have the best chance of landing safely. All very useful.

However, sometimes worry and anxiety can feel quite overwhelming and do not seem to be in proportion to the situation but the good news is that there are good psychological treatments available.

The following are examples of how you may experience anxiety:

Panic Attacks or Panic Disorder:

A panic attack is an extreme fear reaction, seemingly without a logical reason, and it has very strong physical manifestations. You may experience a racing heart, feeling out of breath, sweating and nausea, all of which are due to your body experiencing an adrenaline rush. Because these physical symptoms are very strong, it is natural to at first believe that there is something seriously wrong with us. Many people feel like they are about to pass out or even die. If a medical investigation rules out physical causes, the medical practitioner often concludes the experience is in fact a panic attack.

Panic attacks can progress to Panic Disorder when the fear of a panic attack is so strong that we begin to avoid any situations or activities which we feel are in some way connected with panic attacks.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder

You may have always felt you are one of life’s biggest worriers and you may experience worry as almost your “default position”. You can actually hold strong beliefs about how useful it is to worry as you are “prepared for all eventualities”.

Health Anxiety

You may worry about your health and spend hours checking out symptoms, imagining the worst case scenario and looking for reassurance from your GP, which often only works for a while.

Social Anxiety

You may dread social situations and imagine that everyone will judge you harshly and find you boring or stupid. If that’s the case, you would probably try and avoid social situations and, if you found yourself with other people, you may be very sensitive to any signs of your worst fears coming true.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Like many people, you may experience thoughts that you find deeply upsetting or shocking and at odds with who you think you are. If that’s the case, you may try and “make it better” by certain actions (like washing or doing things in certain order) or mental acts (for example praying or repeating certain words or phrases in your head).

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

You may have experienced or witnessed traumatic events in the past and be affected by them now. Even though you logically know you are safe now, it simply does not feel that way.

All of the above examples are descriptions of anxiety- based disorders and they are very treatable. Talk to Ania about what kind of treatment would best meet your needs.

Loss is a part of life and grief a natural reaction to it. Through the process of grieving we learn to come to terms with our loss and eventually emerge through it with a new, wiser understanding of ourselves and the world. In fact we could argue that without loss we would never be able to appreciate the value of things, qualities and people. When we go through a grief process the support of family and friends is invaluable and, after a time, usually is enough to help us come to terms with our loss.

However, sometimes we get stuck in the grief process and find it difficult to move on. This could be after somebody close died or after a relationship ended, or when we lost our health or when we face a huge change in our life which we did not choose. Coming to terms with not being able to have children is also a huge loss, which can trigger a grief process. Sometimes we are not able to grieve at the time of loss and many years later can experience a delayed and overwhelming bereavement reaction, where perhaps we finally grieve several losses.

Therapy can be very helpful if you feel stuck in or overwhelmed by your grief. If you are struggling with coming to terms with your loss and would like some help to keep hold of what is beautiful and important about the thing or person you have lost and let go of what is not serving you well, then give Ania a call- we can talk about how we can help.

Sometimes we experience or witness events so traumatic, painful and deeply upsetting that we subsequently struggle to come to terms with them. Even many years on we can experience symptoms that signal all is not well.

You may be trying to avoid anything connected with the trauma and live in a state of constant alert, looking out for anything that could feel upsetting. When confronted with what you are trying to avoid, such as a smell, a picture, a sound or a memory, you may feel like you are back at that time and you may experience strong physical reactions, such as a racing heart, sweating, feeling faint or nauseous. You may also suffer from disturbed sleep with nightmares connected to the painful event. However hard you try not to think about it, pictures and images of the trauma pop into your head, making your life a misery.

If you recognise most of the symptoms described above and would like some help to put past in the past, please give us a call to arrange an appointment.

We are social animals and most of us do not thrive in isolation. Other people are mirrors in which we can see ourselves and so we depend on them for our sense of self. We can derive joy and happiness from good relationships where we can give and receive freely and where we feel we are important and valued. However, sometimes relationships can be difficult and if that is the case, our psychological wellbeing is likely to be effected. It may be that you have experienced difficult relationships in early life (for example with your parents, grandparents, siblings or any other significant people in your early life). Those difficult relationships can affect you now, even if the people concerned are no longer in your life. It is through those relationships that your basic “map of expectations in life” has been laid out. The map gives you information about what you can expect from others, what sort of person you are and what you deserve. While it may have served you well in childhood, the map may well be out of date now. For example you may have been brought up with very little praise and comments about how you could always do better. In adult life you may struggle to recognise your achievements and not be able to accept praise, be very driven but never enjoy the sense of accomplishment. You may also believe that you are only as good as what you provide, which in turn can affect your current relationships because you may find it difficult to believe that someone could love you for just who you are.

We may experience difficulties in our present relationships, where perhaps there is disharmony, conflict or where you feel your needs are not met in your family, romantic, friendship or work relationships. You may experience difficulties forming or maintaining relationships, where perhaps you may struggle with trust, closeness or intimacy. Or perhaps you are a mum or dad who is finding the job of being a parent difficult at times. Maybe you feel lonely with no-one to relate to or feel lonely in the middle of a crowd of friends.

If you hope that your relationships could be better and would like to take the first step to improving them, please give Ania a call to arrange an appointment to discuss your needs.

Please note: Ania provides individual therapy. For couple’s therapy she can give local recommendations and general advice.

Anyone who has ever been sleep deprived understands what havoc it can play with our mood and our ability to function. While there may be organic causes for problems with sleep and these should always be explored with your GP, there is also a strong link between sleep problems and common psychological problems, such as anxiety and depression as well as with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), where you experience high anxiety preventing you from falling asleep easily and are often woken up by nightmares. That’s why Ania looks at sleep problems holistically and not in isolation. If depression, anxiety or PTSD are indicated and there are no underlying organic causes, return to good sleep is usually a by-product of a successful psychological treatment. Call Ania to arrange an appointment to discuss your needs and possible treatment.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to be born into a family where the parents are happy, healthy and balanced people who have learnt how to love well and instil in their children a sense of security and self-worth. Things can go wrong, be it through illness, death, neglect, lack of warmth and emotional availability or abuse. Such experiences can leave deep scars and make life very difficult long after you left your childhood behind.

However, as human being we have the wonderful ability to continue to grow, heal and develop healthy relationships despite our early experiences. Therapy can be very helpful in the process so if you feel your early life experiences are holding you back and effecting you, Ania would love to hear from you and talk about how we could help you move forward.

Self-esteem can fluctuate throughout life. If we are with people who value us, our sense of self will grow. On the other hand, if we are with people who give us negative feedback about ourselves -even in subtle ways- then our self-image will suffer. Although many people can relate to the term, you may be surprised to find out that low self-esteem is not a diagnostic category. Rather, it can be a symptom of other conditions, such as depression or anxiety. If we experience setbacks in life, such as divorce, illness, loss of a career or an important role in life, we may struggle with self-esteem. Self-esteem issues can be particularly deep rooted if they originate in early life. If that is your experience then thinking very little of yourself and what you deserve can become a “default setting”. Luckily, we never stop growing and can always make good changes in life. Therapy can be very helpful in “ironing out” the deep creases of the past and helping you live your life to the full now. So if you struggle with low self-esteem, Ania would love to hear from you so that we together you can work out a treatment plan to help you improve the quality of your life.
Dealing with fertility issues when having children is what you really long for can be extremely difficult. Each stage of the process creates its own difficulties, from having initial tests and absorbing their outcome, through various procedures to assist conception, the great –and often repeated- sense of loss if these do not work, the physical toll of the procedures, down to trying to come to terms with the finality of the loss if you’ve come to the end of the road in the process.

If you are in a couple this will test you to the limit throughout, as the two of you may view the issue slightly differently. If you are trying for a baby on your own, you may need the support of people who really care about you and still it may feel a very lonely journey. If you had decided against having children in the past and are now having difficulty conceiving, it could feel doubly difficult. Your sense of self, how you feel about your body and your future as well as the strength of your relationships can all be tested. If you are a partner of someone who longs for a baby, this may be a very challenging time for you too.

If you feel you have been effected by fertility issues then looking after your emotional wellbeing might be just as important as the more physical efforts you are putting into trying to have a baby. Talk to Ania about how therapy could help.

There are times in life when we ask ourselves the big questions: “Who am I? What is life about? What does really matter?”. These very important questions tend to become relevant especially at key moments in our life- perhaps after a significant loss or when a chapter in life comes to an end. As much as facing these questions can feel unnerving or at times depressing, it can also be a great opportunity to establish what values you hold dear and how to make sure that your life reflects these. If you are wrestling with some big existential questions, contact Ania to discuss how therapy could assist you in finding a way forward.
There is little else that can feel as personal and sensitive as our sexuality. We are lucky if we are happy with who we are sexually and have the acceptance of this aspect of ourselves from our partner, friends, family and the society. This is not always the case however. At times we may feel confused about our sexuality or gender identity. Or we may be very clear about our sexual identity but fear judgement or rejection from significant people in our life or from society. If those issues effect you, contact Ania to arrange an appointment to help find a way forward from your difficulties.

1 Depression Alliance. Daring to Choose: 10 ways to deliver Choice for people with depression and anxiety. (Report 2009).

Prelude No. 16 by Chris Zabriskie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Source: http://chriszabriskie.com/preludes/ Artist: http://chriszabriskie.com/