Identifying Difficulties & Problems
Anxiety is characterised by the following symptoms;
churning stomach, increased heart rate, chest sensations, ﬂushing hot and/or cold, worrying thoughts that wont go away, unusual skin sensations, thoughts and feelings that you might die, ongoing nervousness, tension in your muscles and body, headaches.
When people experience anxiety their survival system or sympathetic nervous system has been triggered in response to a perceived danger. An individual will experience a sense of vigilance like 'being on guard' or 'being on edge' that does not go away easily.
The survival system or ﬂight/ﬁght/freeze stress response can be activated in acute episodes such as panic attacks but it can also be activated in a chronic ongoing state. There are different types of anxiety disorders and a psychologist can help you identify what type of anxiety you are experiencing.
Anxiety can feel uncomfortable and people will often engage in behaviours to try to relieve or reduce their feelings of anxiety including behaviours such as drinking. People suffering anxiety will also start to avoid situations where they have previously felt anxious or where they feel unsafe.
Sometimes people are prescribed medications that will calm anxiety however psychological interventions are long lasting and help with understanding the triggers and origins of anxiety.
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Major depression is when your mood becomes low or sad for a signiﬁcant period of time. Major depression can aﬀect your appetite and sleep plus your enjoyment of living. Adverse life events and stress can sometimes impact on mood however often your mood can lift with support from others and problem solving over time.
Sometimes it may seem that there are no triggers to a low mood or depression and your symptoms are severe enough for you to see your GP and consider medication. A clinical psychologist can assist you with techniques to help manage your mood and also discuss with you ways to prevent relapses.
Symptoms of Major Depression include;
low mood, sadness, irritability, sleep and/or appetite changes, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, loss of pleasure in your usual activities, sense that the future is not going to work out for you, fatigue (especially in the morning), ruminating (thinking the same thing over and over) low motivation, suicidal thoughts, feeling like it is hard to push yourself to do things.
Protective factors that help prevent depression or aid in managing depressed mood include; exercise, pets, socialising with friends and whanau, playing music, engaging in art, volunteering, sunshine, enjoyable work.
Post traumatic stress disorder is a diagnosis that describes a set of symptoms that some people have following the experience of a traumatic event. Memories of the traumatic event can intrude on their daily thought process and elicit uncomfortable physical sensations.
People who are experiencing ongoing adverse effects of a traumatic event may experience nightmares and have a sense of feeling ‘keyed up’ or on edge. They can start to avoid situations that remind them of the event and/or start to avoid talking about the event.
It is important to talk to your GP or psychologist if you have experienced an event that was traumatic. Sometimes talking about the event can be very difficult so it can help to start talking about the impact of the event and/or your current symptoms so that a practitioner can understand and assess if you need more advanced treatment intervention.
Everyone responds differently to traumatic situations. EMDR, CBT trauma focused therapy and exposure therapy are all effective treatment interventions for treating the impact of trauma. EMDR is different from a talking therapy as it works on the adaptive processing system of trauma memory networks rather than talking about the events. A psychologist will assess which is the best treatment option for you given the clinical information.
It is diﬃcult for people to understand how they may beneﬁt from seeing a psychologist when they have ongoing physical pain either due to injury or medical condition.
Ongoing pain can often impact on a persons ability to function to their full physical capacity and this means that they miss out on the activities and opportunities that would usually bring enjoyment or satisfaction to their lives. This can aﬀect a person's mood. Additionally the daily emotional frustration of coping with pain can sometimes lead to worry about the future and worry about their ability to cope with work.
A psychologist can help with; strategies to cope with pain, feelings of frustration, grief and adjustment to lifestyle changes, difficulties with relationships when someone has pain.