I specialise in the treatment of adults experiencing a wide range of psychological problems.
As a bilingual therapist, I am able to offer therapy in both English and Spanish.
Anxiety is debilitating
Feeling worried, anxious or nervous about something is a normal and common feeling when faced with ‘anxiety provoking situations’. Most people feel fearful of something in life at some point; indeed, this short-term anxiety can help prepare and cope better with certain situations. However, excessive levels of fear and anxiety, which is out of proportion with the situation, appears of nowhere or persists after the situation has gone, can be extremely debilitating and get in the way of doing everyday things. [/one_half]Anxiety can take many forms, depending broadly on the focus of the concerns, and includes generalised anxiety, panic, phobias, health anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress, and body dysmorphia. Long term anxiety is distressing and can have physical, psychological and social effects.
Common symptoms of anxiety include: palpitations, increased muscle tension, hyperventilation, dizziness, difficulty in breathing and choking sensation, pressure in the chest, pains, headaches, hot flushes, perspiration, feeling down and depressed, angry or frustrated amongst other symptoms.
Depression affects 1 in 4 people
We all feel sad and experience low mood from time to time. Lifestyle changes such as getting a regular good night’s sleep, a healthy diet, reducing your alcohol intake and getting regular exercise, can be effective in helping you feel healthier and more relaxed. In most cases low mood will lift up after a few days, however, if these feelings persist for two or more weeks or get in the way of everyday life, it can be a sign of depression and it’s time to seek help.
Symptoms of depression can include the following: continuous low mood or sadness, feeling hopeless and helpless, having low self-esteem, feeling tearful, changes in appetite and sleep, strong feelings of guilt, irritability and intolerant of others, lack of motivation or interest in things, finding it difficult making decisions, not enjoying things you used to enjoy before, having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself, feeling anxious or worried. Most people experience a combination of some these symptoms, rather than all.
45% of British adults are currently stressed
However, about 60% of those feeling stressed would only seek help when they feel they are at breaking point. Stress is the feeling of being under too much pressure (often due to life events and circumstances such as work, relationship problems, financial concerns, living conditions, etc) to the point where the person is struggling to cope with some of the demands put on you. Prolonged periods of stress can have long lasting physical and psychological effects.[/one_half]Stress is not a medical diagnosis, but significant stress experienced over a long time may lead to depression, anxiety, or more severe mental health problems. Physical symptoms of stress are similar to those of anxiety and include: palpitations, increased muscle tension, hyperventilation, dizziness, difficulty in breathing and choking sensation, pressure in the chest, pains, headaches, hot flushes, perspiration, feeling down and depressed, angry or frustrated amongst other symptoms.
Panic attacks are terrifying
If you have ever had a panic attack you will most likely agree with the above statement. During a panic attack people experience such intense physical symptoms and emotions that they often feel “shaken” and apprehensive for hours after the event. However, whilst they are terrifying panic attacks are not dangerous, and will not cause you any physical harm. [/one_half]A panic attack is characterised by a sudden rush of fear or intense anxiety, often ‘out of the blue’, accompanied by four or more strong physical sensations such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, chest pain or discomfort, chills or hot flushes, nausea, fear of losing control or going crazy, trembling or shaking, dizziness or faintness, breathlessness, feelings of unreality, or fear of dying. Panic attacks are common in anxiety disorders (1 in 10), but when someone experiences recurring and regular panic attacks, and are frequently worried about future panic attacks, a diagnosis of Panic Disorder (1 in 100) is considered. This type of anxiety can be extremely debilitating, particularly if they are complicated by agoraphobia – the fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult, or help wouldn’t be available in the event of a panic attack.
Better safe than sorry?
Many of us have have learnt that worry can help us be prepared for eventualities; we desperately try to anticipate what might go wrong in life and how we will cope, what could we do. It is as if we should be worrying about anything bad that could happen, just in case. Our minds can imagine hundreds, thousands, of ‘what if’, millions of possible catastrophic situations that intensely worry us. People who worry too much are often preoccupied with these possible future scenarios, even if they are very, very unlikely.
[/one_half]Doubt and uncertainty fuel into worry, triggering an almost uncontrollable chain of thoughts and emotions. These images are experienced as true facts contributing to further anxiety and worry. Often, worriers feel responsible for anything that could go wrong, and resort to seeking reassurance from others. Worry is at the heart of many psychological problems, often people who worry too much feel tense, anxious and down. Many chronic worriers feel a constant sense of impending doom that increase their worries. Intense worry can affect people’s ability to enjoy life, is associated with sleep problems, low self-esteem, eating problems, relationship difficulties and poor job performance amongst other things.
When you fear the worst…
Most people worry about their health from time to time, but some worry about it day and night. If you constantly worry about your health, either frequently seeking or avoiding any health related information, conversations or news, seeking numerous medical tests or reassurance from doctors, friends and/or family, you may be suffering from health anxiety.
[/one_half] People with this condition often have unexplained physical symptoms such as pains, headaches, dizziness, which they assume are symptoms of a serious illness, most commonly cancer, HIV or a hearth condition. They spend a significant amount of time worrying about their health, checking their body for symptoms, avoiding certain activities as if they were ill, and imagining what would happen if they had a serious illness. Reassurances from medical tests and doctors, if they have any impact at all, is usually only short lived, as people often think ‘what if they missed it?’, ‘it might be too small, too rare’. This type of worry is exceptionally distressing and can have a significant impact on a person’s life.
Unwanted thoughts can be very distressing
The World Health Organisation has ranked OCD in the top ten of the most disabling illnesses of any kind.
Unwanted and intrusive thoughts or images are common, they spring to mind out of nowhere, and most of us simply dismiss them. People with OCD become very anxious about the meaning, impact, and/or possibility of intrusive thoughts being or becoming true. Thoughts, images, doubts, or urges are experienced as uncontrollable and very distressing. In an attempt to minimise the anxiety, likelihood and consequences of these thoughts, people with OCD engage in rituals (compulsions) to prevent perceived harm happening to themselves or to a loved one, for which they feel responsible.[/one_half] The difference between ‘little quirks’ and OCD is the intensity of anxiety and the devastating impact on people’s life. People often suffer from OCD 10-15 years before they access treatment, they may not understand that they are suffering from anxiety or they may feel embarrassed or ashamed about their thoughts and behaviours. Seeking help is essential as left untreated OCD rarely resolves, and effective treatments are available for even chronic and severe OCD.
1 in 10 women experience PND
Pregnancy and the early days after having a baby is an emotional time. Many women experience what is called ‘baby blues’ a few days after giving birth, for some, this feeling turns into postnatal depression. PND is a depressive illness which can affect anyone, people suffering from PND may struggle to bond with their baby, they may feel guilty or fear they don’t love their child. Unfortunately, many women don’t seek help for fear that their baby may be taken away, and thus they continue to suffer from a treatable condition, sometimes, for months and years. [/one_half]
Someone with postnatal depression often experience some of the following symptoms: low mood, tiredness, sleep and appetite problems, loss of interest in things, inability to enjoy things they used to enjoy, anxiety, frustration, guilt, shame, low self-esteem, hopelessness, negative thoughts and thoughts of harming themselves, and withdrawing from others. Whilst it commonly affects women, men can also suffer from PND.
Not good enough
The way we feel, think and value ourselves has a significant impact on our lives. Low or negative self-esteem is not a clinical diagnosis, however, it is associated with anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. [/one_half]Self-esteem is usually a malleable construct, most people experience ups and downs as they face life events which may challenge how they view themselves; but some people always see themselves in a negative light. The experiences we have had in life, from early childhood, shape the way we view ourselves and the type of person we think we are; if these experiences have been negative, so will be our self-esteem.
People with low self-esteem feel they are not ‘good enough’, they lack confidence, feel unworthy of love and friends, and usually anticipate bad things happening to them. It is important to note that beliefs about oneself are only that, beliefs, opinions, thoughts, they are not facts, and thus work can be done to improve the way you see yourself. Self-compassion, a healthy lifestyle, cultivating positive relationships, working towards goals, problem solving, avoiding self-criticism, good self-care, are some of the things you can do to feel better about who you are and what you do.
When it is more than just dissatisfaction…
We all have a view, a mental representation, of how we look. This image could be neutral, positive or negative; it is normal to feel unsure or even dissatisfied with a particular aspect of your appearance from time to time, whilst generally having a positive or even neutral body image. However, people with body image problems have a very negative view of one or more aspects of their appearance which can lead to significant preoccupation with a body part.[/one_half]On occasions this concern can significantly impact on a person’s functioning, their ability to sustain close relationships, or even jobs, and their overall quality of life. People with this level of body image concerns are more likely to be depressed and anxious, they may spend several hours a day preoccupied with their perceived defect, covering or ‘camouflaging’ it, avoiding activities, checking or avoiding mirrors etc. Unfortunately, most people with this condition fear being negatively judged as vain and don’t seek medical treatment, thus, it is often a chronic and disabling problem.
250,000 people in Britain experience disabling tiredness
Myalgic Encephalopathy or “ME”, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome, or Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome all refer to severe and debilitating fatigue which can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. [/one_half]Other physical symptoms may include: headaches, muscular and joint pains, disturbed sleep patterns, poor memory and concentration, and dizziness amongst other symptoms.
Little is known about the onset and prognosis of this condition, although it is often associated with a viral infection, a surgery or an accident, but in some cases there is no clear evidence of a triggering event. Research studies are currently underway to help us better understand what causes and maintains this debilitating illness and how to best support people with CFS/ME.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends cognitive behavioural therapy and/or graded exercise therapy for people with mild or moderate CFS/ME, because these are the interventions for which there is the clearest research evidence of benefit.