Areas of Treatment
All of us experience anxiety and fear in different situations from time to time. However, when anxiety and fear becomes persistent, distressing and interferes with everyday functioning, this may indicate an anxiety disorder. There are a number of anxiety disorders including Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Phobias and Social Anxiety. Symptoms can include physical symptoms – trembling, sweating, increased heart rate, changes in breathing, reduced concentration, feeling faint and nausea; as well as excessive worries and avoidance (people, places, talking or thinking about whatever brings about panic and anxiety). Anxiety is very treatable and the treatment plan depends on what is your concern.
While we all feel sad, moody or low from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time (weeks, months or even years) and sometimes without any apparent reason. Depression is more than just a low mood – it’s a serious condition that affects your physical and mental health. Depression is common and is treatable and may occur in response to a stressful life event or seemingly for no obvious reason.
Couples’ therapy can assist with issues such as conflict and violence, communication difficulties, intimacy problems, parenting, and with ruptures such as infidelity and secrecy. Some individuals also find therapy helpful to navigate the adjustment challenges, if the decision is to separate.
Grief and Loss
Grief is the natural reaction to a variety of loss-related events, such as the death of a loved one, separation or divorce, the loss of sense of safety or predictability, physical incapacity through disability, or the loss of one’s home / community due to disaster. Recovery from grief is varied for every individual and therapy can be helpful to work through transitioning loss in a structured and supportive manner.
Negative thoughts strongly effect how you feel about yourself. Self-criticism and negative self-evaluation can lead you to feel opportunities are being missed. Therapy can help to explore patterns of behaviour and the underlying emotional difficulties. It can help you build new healthy coping mechanisms and enable you to work towards self-acceptance and even self-love
Anger and the experience of stress are normal human emotions, and can be very adaptive and helpful to mobilize us to escape danger or protect ourselves. It can however, become problematic when expressed as aggression or violence. It can be a part of many mental health challenges including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression. Anger can also be a learned behaviour. Therapy can assist in developing alternative coping mechanisms and recognising the early warning signs of emotional arousal and distress.
Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
It’s normal to feel upset or distressed for a couple of weeks after a traumatic event. A traumatic event is usually something that has happened to you or something you have seen. For example, a natural disaster, serious accident, sudden-death of a loved one, severe physical injury, rape or sexual assault, war or other attack, a traumatic birth experience. It can also be a more chronic and prolonged stressor like bullying, social exclusion, neglect, control, or abuse. It can manifest in adulthood or have its origins in childhood experiences.
Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event gets PTSD In people who don’t, it is thought that the brain gradually comes to terms with the memories and they are no longer as vivid. For people with PTSD these memories can cause ongoing distress.
We believe PTSD is caused by the brain laying down memories in the wrong place. During a traumatic event the brain gets overwhelmed and files memories in the ‘immediate action’ part of the brain, instead of the normal place.
Everyone who has PTSD will experience it differently. Some people with PTSD have suicidal feelings and want to self harm. Often people with PTSD also have depression or anxiety, or abuse alcohol or drugs. Other symptoms may include intrusive memories of the event that you have no control over, flashbacks, nightmares, distress when you come across things that remind you of the event, physical symptoms like sweating or heart palpitations, feeling watchful or ‘on guard’, trouble sleeping, angry or emotional outbursts, blaming yourself for the events or feeling like there is nothing to look forward to.
PTSD is a treatable condition and trauma-focused cognitive behaviour therapy, EMDR and cognitive processing therapy are highly regarded treatments available.
Things that don’t help people with PTSD recover are psychological treatments other than those listed in this fact sheet, ‘debriefing’ a traumatic event in detail in the immediate hours or days after the event, pretending nothing is wrong or hoping symptoms will go away by themselves, drinking alcohol or using drugs, isolating yourself from other people.
Living with chronic illness, injury or disability can have a significant impact on the individual and significant others. Problems such as chronic pain, addiction, depression, anxiety, anger and grief often co-occur with illness or injury and contribute to suffering. A psychologist can help cope with the diagnosis, medical treatments, terminal illness and the impact of loss or life changes as well as pain management. We utilize evidence-based therapies to support clients to manage chronic illness, chronic pain and associated problems with the aim to live a fulfilling life in spite of illness, injury or disability
Perinatal / Postnatal Anxiety and Depression
Women (and men) can experience the onset of symptoms of depression/anxiety during pregnancy and/or following the birth of a baby (perinatal period). Physical changes in pregnancy can affect your emotions and mood, and being a parent may be different from your expectations. Symptoms can include tearfulness, feeling overwhelmed, having scary thoughts and feelings of detachment. If symptoms persist or increase in intensity it is important to seek professional support.
In many cases, people experience sleep disturbance because they develop a pattern of behaviour that interferes with good sleep habits. Sleeping difficulties are often connected to underlying problems such as stress, depression or anxiety. Good quality sleep isn’t necessarily a long sleep – it’s having what doctors call ‘deep sleep’ and ‘dream sleep’. Most ‘deep sleep’ occurs during the first five hours after falling asleep. Even if you sleep for only four or five hours, you can still get about the same amount of ‘deep sleep’ as someone who sleeps for eight to ten hours. When to seek professional help? When work, school, home life or relationships are affected.