Counseling for Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Worries, and Insomnia

In Grand Rapids, MI

Are you or someone you know suffering from anxiety, panic attacks, overwhelming worries or even insomnia? Anxiety is a normal response our body has to various circumstances and situations–but when anxiety gets out of control, it can make us feel terrible, cause panic attacks, and lead to troubles sleeping. Therapy and trauma-informed counseling can help you get anxiety under control. For some people, long-term anxiety becomes debilitating and can cause negative health effects. If you are beginning to experience anxiety, panic attacks, overwhelming worries, or insomnia it is important to get assessed soon and determine if counseling is right for you.

Counseling for Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Worries, and Insomnia
At Health for Life Grand Rapids

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is actually a perfectly natural nervous system (physical and mental) response to real or perceived stress, as well as both a natural response to events that happen outside of us, but also thoughts that we may have internally. For instance, most people experience a slight amount of anxiety while driving a car. If a car pulls out in front of us unexpectedly, we may feel a little bit more anxiety than normal, but in this case, anxiety is a good thing because the “fear reaction” may cause us to be slightly more cautious or vigilant in traffic–which could possibly save us from an accident. However, anxiety is not always a friendly signal in the body and mind. There are times when people’s anxiety and “fear response” can get stuck to the point where a person is worrying about almost “everything” most of the time. In these situations, a person’s natural anxiety has gone from a small and helpful signal of danger, to a loud and intrusive thought or physical reaction that causes a person to feel out of control.

In fact, some people experience a great deal of discomfort when anxiety “takes over”, and this can include an increased heart rate, feeling like they are going to “go crazy”, trouble concentrating, thinking that certain circumstances are “all going to fall apart” even when others in your life assure that “things are ok”, troubles sleeping (insomnia), restlessness, excessive sweating, indigestion, difficulty concentrating, and more. If your anxiety begins to affect multiple aspects of your daily life, including overwhelming your thoughts, interfering with your relationships, and clouding your judgment in school or at work–then begin counseling (psychotherapy) is a good place to begin your journey of feeling like yourself again

Counseling for Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Worries, and Insomnia

How counseling can help to alleviate anxiety:

  • For anxiety disorders, talk therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, EMDR therapy, antidepressant medications and anti-anxiety medications have all been shown to be helpful. However, research generally shows that many forms of psychotherapy are more effective than medications, and that adding medications does not significantly improve outcomes from psychotherapy alone. Also, certain anti-anxiety medications have been shown to be addicting. Therefore, if a person begins to experience anxiety, psychotherapy (counseling) is a safe place to begin.
  • Counseling (talk therapy, CBT, and EMDR, etc) is a process that involves interactions with a therapist in a confidential setting. The therapist utilizes counseling techniques as well as empirically proven techniques to help a person understand their anxiety, and learn to process their anxiety in a way that is helpful and non-debilitating. Counseling is not just telling someone your problems with anxiety. It is a dynamic experience and it has helped millions of people feel less anxious, manage their anxiety, and even learn to make use of natural occurring anxiety to their advantage.
  • Anxiety symptoms respond very well to treatment. Most people who suffer from anxiety are able to reduce or eliminate symptoms after several (or fewer) months of psychotherapy, and many people notice improvement after just a few sessions.
  • Research has proven that EMDR Therapy facilitates cognitive changes and a lasting decrease of anxiety. As indicated by research and illustrated by case histories, EMDR therapy can be effective in one session.
Counseling for Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Worries, and Insomnia

What are panic attacks?

It is important to note that panic attacks often involve our autonomic nervous system and are often unexpected shifts in feeling. However scary these panic attacks may feel–they cannot actually harm you. People often experience panic attacks as a sudden feeling of “terror” that strikes without warning. These panic episodes can occur at any time, even waking people up in the middle of sleep. It is quite common for people experiencing a panic attack to believe they are having a heart attack or they are dying or going crazy. The feelings of terror, fear, or trembling that a person experiences during a panic attack are almost always not in proportion to the true circumstance they find themselves in (e.g. buying an item at a supermarket) and may be completely unrelated to what is happening around them. Common symptoms of a panic attack include: feeling faint or dizzy, shortness of breath, dry mouth, sweating, chills or hot flashes, apprehension and worry, restlessness, distress, fear, numbness or tingling. If a person begins to experience recurring panic attacks, over and over, this may actually become a panic disorder, in which the person is anxious and worried about when the next panic attack may strike.

How Therapy can help reduce panic attacks:

  • Panic attacks and disorder can be effectively treated with medications and psychological treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness interventions. While medications have proven to be potent in panic disorder therapy, their potential side effects (such as addiction and anxiety rebound) can be obstacles to long-term success in people. The research is clear that it is important to provide effective psychological (counseling/ therapy) interventions for panic disorder as a stand-alone treatment or in addition to medications.
  • Multiple studies have concluded that psychotherapy (counseling) produces not only effective short-term relief of panic attacks and panic disorder, but also long-term positive results.
  • Outside of therapy, counselors can also help people learn coping mechanisms such as mindfulness to help them remain calm and feel more in control if they experience a panic attack in the future.

What do you do about overwhelming worries?

At times, in our lives we may feel so anxious or worried that we aren’t even sure how to categorize our feelings. One of the first steps in recovery is learning the language of overwhelming worries. The following are a list of common worries that may bother a person to the point where they are ready to seek help through counseling.

  • Illness anxiety disorder. This is when someone suffers from excessive anxiety about their health (formerly referred to as hypochondria). In most situations, a person may seek a diagnosis, but all of the tests illustrate that they are actually anxious, and not actually sick.
  • Social anxiety disorder. Sometimes people acquire a pervasive fear of being judged by, examined, or ridiculed by other people in social situations. This anxiety can be so severe, that people can become reclusive and avoid otherwise safe social gatherings.
  • Phobia. A phobia is a fear that is deemed excessive for the actual situation. For instance, some people are afraid of a situation or activity that doesn’t appear to have any inherent risks. Other people may be extremely afraid of an object or an insect. In most cases, a phobia’s fears are actually so great that it impacts a person’s ability to effectively deal with everyday situations.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder. This disorder is often quite debilitating. It is often experienced by people as recurring, intrusive and irrational thoughts that lead someone to perform specific, repeated behaviors or compulsions. In these situations, the compulsive behavior can become time-consuming, embarrassing, and debilitating.
  • Separation anxiety disorder. This is not just a condition that affects children and young adults. Many adults can experience extreme anxiety of being away from home or loved ones. It is normal for people to be routinely “homesick”, but when homesickness begins to affect people’s ability to function or travel long distances without distress, this can be known as separation anxiety disorder.
Counseling for depression

How counseling can help decrease overwhelming worries:

  • Counseling has been proven to help people recover from severe anxiety disorders. Therefore, if you believe that your worries are overwhelming and you need help, counseling should help you.
  • There is no shame in seeking help. In fact, an estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults experience any anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.
  • Many Americans may have visited their primary care doctor and not received an indication that they may be suffering from excessive worries or anxiety, as many studies have indicated Anxiety disorders are often underrecognized and undertreated in primary care.
  • Yet, each year, an estimated 1,247,000 Americans visit the emergency departments of hospitals, with the results of these visits indicating that the person is suffering from anxiety (and not other medical conditions).
  • According to a large meta-analysis of treatment of anxiety disorders, many prevalent psychiatrists have written: “Anxiety disorders should be treated with psychological therapy, pharmacotherapy, or a combination of both.”
  • If you are looking for the first step in helping you overcome overwhelming stress, worries, and anxiety, then try out counseling today.
Counseling for insomnia

What is insomnia?

  • Insomnia is a sleep disorder where people have trouble getting to sleep, difficulties sleeping through the night and staying asleep. Others wake up in the morning and cannot sleep past an early hour.
  • Insomnia can have serious health effects. For instance, insomnia is associated with a higher risk of auto accidents. Other people can suffer from multiple health effects because of sleep deprivation. Still others find themselves more anxious or depressed while experiencing a bout of insomnia.
  • Did you know that Insomnia affects as many as 35% of adults.
  • Insomnia is the second most common complaint (behind pain) reported to primary care doctors (in the USA).
  • Studies have indicated ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) has a significant effect on insomnia and sleep quality, and therefore, it can be used as an appropriate treatment method to control and improve sleep.

How therapy can help with get rid of insomnia:

  • Multiple types of counseling have been shown to be effective in treating insomnia. In fact, most studies recommend psychotherapy (counseling) for insomnia before introducing medications.
  • A recent study at Harvard Medical School found that cognitive behavioral therapy was more effective at treating chronic insomnia than prescription sleep medication.
  • Most experts recommend a combination of counseling techniques as well as behavioral modification, mindfulness based stress reduction training, sleep restriction training, psychoeducational techniques, and other forms of psychotherapy. There is no “one size fits all” for the treatment of insomnia.
  • Counseling can also help people discover the root causes of why their insomnia began–and if these causes are addressed in therapy, people can often find relief from the sleep disorder.

What if I experience anxiety after a terrible or stressful event–and even though the event is over, I still feel like it is happening and it makes me terribly anxious? If that is the case, you may be suffering from trauma (or even PTSD). Please check out our Trauma-Informed Counseling Center page to learn about the anxiety symptoms that are associated with Post Trauma Stress Disorder or other forms of anxiety.

In general, thousands of scientific studies (with actual people suffering from anxiety) have confirmed that counseling (in general) is effective for treating anxiety and helping people feel like themselves again.

The counselors at Health for Life Grand Rapids are ready to help with anxiety:

Counseling for Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Worries, and Insomnia

Justyne Ortquist

Trauma-Informed Counseling and Emotion-Focused Therapy for Couples, Individuals, and Families

Jennifer McKinstry

Counseling for Trauma, Depression, Anxiety, and Spiritual Issues

Joshua Nave

EMDR Therapy for Anxiety, Trauma, and Minority Groups

Kathryn Barcelona

Therapy for adults and families struggling with depression, anxiety, issues, substance use recovery, etc.

Michael McCall

Strengths-Based Counseling for Adults, Couples, Families, and Children

Billie Walters

Intuitive Counseling, EMDR Therapy, and Reiki

Lindsey Beaver

Trauma Informed Counseling & EMDR for Children, Teens, Young Adults and Adults

Josh Zheng

Counseling and Internal Family Systems Therapy across the Lifespan.

Paul Krauss

Counseling, EMDR Therapy, & Solutions

Megan Drizin

Telehealth Counseling for Women, Moms, and Couples

Adam Nash

Counseling to Help Men and Young Adults Live Healthier Lives

John Curphey

Relationship Issues and Trauma Work

Jennifer Belmonte

Anxiety, Relationships, and Parenting/Couples Work

Brendan Cole

Counseling and EMDR for Adolescents, Teens and Adults

Melodie Whitmore

Trauma-Informed Counseling and EMDR therapy for Women and Young Adults

Natalie Arnold

Trauma Therapy and Counseling for Women and Children

David Wilson

Counseling, EMDR Therapy, DBT, CBT, & Mindfulness Solutions, Trauma Informed, Emotional Regulation Skills, Stress & Anxiety

K’Quiana Griffin-Knowling

EMDR, Empowerment, and Healing for all

Sarah Denick

Counseling & EMDR Therapy for Individuals, Families, Couples, Teens and Children

Nia Wolfe

Trauma-Informed Counseling for Children, Teens, Adults, and Couples

References

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). How Do I Choose Between Medication and Therapy? American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/medication-or-therapy. 

Bandelow, B., Michaelis, S., & Wedekind, D. (2017, June). Treatment of anxiety disorders. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5573566/. 

Dark, T., Flynn, H. A., Rust, G., Kinsell, H., Harman, J. S., The authors are with the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine, RC, K., Al., E., JP, L., JS, H., RP, S., RP, F., L, W., T, D., MHCT, van B., BL, K., LR, W., F, B., … KW, Y. (2016, October 17). Epidemiology of Emergency Department Visits for Anxiety in the United States: 2009–2011. Psychiatric Services. https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ps.201600148. 

de Jongh Aten Broeke Evan der Meer K; (n.d.). [A new development in the treatment of anxiety and trauma: “eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)”]. Zeitschrift fur klinische Psychologie, Psychopathologie und Psychotherapie. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7645314/. 

Holland, K. (2020, September 3). Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and More. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety#types. 

Kaczkurkin, A. N., & Foa, E. B. (2015, September). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders: an update on the empirical evidence. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4610618/. 

Kim, Y.-K. (2019, January). Panic Disorder: Current Research and Management Approaches. Psychiatry investigation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6354045/. 

Krystal, A. D., Prather, A. A., & Ashbrook, L. H. (2019, October). The assessment and management of insomnia: an update. World psychiatry : official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6732697/. 

Otman, H. (2016, July 11). Psychotherapy Recommended Before Medication for Insomnia. University of Michigan. https://labblog.uofmhealth.org/rounds/for-insomnia-consider-cognitive-behavioral-therapy-before-medication. 

Otte, C. (2011). Cognitive behavioral therapy in anxiety disorders: current state of the evidence. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3263389/. 

Robinson, L. (2021, July 14). Therapy for Sleep Disorders. HelpGuide.org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/therapy-for-sleep-disorders.htm#. 

Salari, N., Khazaie, H., Hosseinian-Far, A., Khaledi-Paveh, B., Ghasemi, H., Mohammadi, M., & Shohaimi, S. (2020, August 13). The effect of acceptance and commitment therapy on insomnia and sleep quality: A systematic review. BMC Neurology. https://bmcneurol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12883-020-01883-1. 

ScienceDaily. (2021, February 16). Psychotherapy for panic disorder shows positive long-term effects. ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/02/210216133358.htm. 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Any Anxiety Disorder. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder. 

What Causes Insomnia? Sleep Foundation. (2020, August 6). https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/what-causes-insomnia. 

When panic attacks. Counseling Today. (2018, August 13). https://ct.counseling.org/2018/07/when-panic-attacks/. 

*Counseling is an extremely effective anxiety treatment. As the person seeking help, there are multiple factors to keep in mind: 1. Not all counseling is the same, and therapy cannot be guaranteed to be 100% effective every time. 2. Counseling does require work in session, patience with the process, and will require practice of certain techniques outside of sessions. 3. Not all therapists are equally effective, so make sure you interview a therapist before engaging in treatment and give your therapist feedback on the process.

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