Anxiety, a prevalent issue in Singapore’s fast-paced society, can significantly hamper daily life, making routine tasks and decisions feel insurmountable. It’s a condition that has become more common, often disrupting personal, professional, and social well-being. Much of the way the general population conceptualizes mental health issues such as depression or anxiety is through the medical model and pharmaceutical lens. This model approaches anxiety by looking at the problem separate from the person, ignoring the context of the person’s life, relationships, and coping skills while addressing anxiety only through medication.

However, personalized therapy and counseling for anxiety may provide a more holistic approach. With personalized therapy, a mental health counselor will find out what you are trying to solve and help you find effective, healthy ways to deal with the issue at hand. This will involve understanding the challenges you are facing, the quality of your relationships, and the skills you need to manage anxiety levels and regain control of your life. 

Remember, you’re not alone on this journey; help is available, and with commitment and support, a path to well-being and peace of mind is within reach. It is possible to move beyond the constraints of anxiety towards a fulfilling and empowered life.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), is a condition when one experiences persistent and excessive worrying that interferes with their daily activities. This condition is more than just feeling stressed or worried; anxiety involves prolonged feelings of apprehension and fear that are disproportionate to the actual threat or challenge. It stems from the brain’s natural response to perceived danger, evolving into a chronic state where the individual’s fight or flight mechanism is in constant activation. The DSM categorizes various types of anxiety disorders, each with specific criteria, acknowledging anxiety as a complex mental health condition that impacts emotional, psychological, and physical well-being.

Fortunately, anxiety may be effectively diagnosed and managed with personalized individual counseling tailored to address the nuances of each anxiety disorder, providing relief and strategies for individuals to regain control over their lives.

Different Types of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders encompass a range of distinct conditions, each characterized by its unique set of symptoms, triggers, and effects on daily life. Understanding these different types of anxiety disorders is crucial for individuals seeking insight into their own experiences and the experiences of loved ones with this condition. Therefore, going for counseling for anxiety may be incredibly helpful, offering tailored strategies and support to manage these disorders.

Here are the various forms of anxiety disorders and their symptoms:

Type of DisorderDescriptionCommon Symptoms
Panic disorderThis anxiety disorder manifests as recurrent panic attacks that occur unexpectedly.
The intense fear and worry about having a panic attack may then lead to significant changes in behavior and disruptions in one’s daily life.
Panic attacks that bring about:
Chest pains
An elevated heart rate
Sensations resembling a heart attack or choking
PhobiasSpecific phobias involve an intense fear of a particular object or situation, like heights or seeing blood or snakes. Encountering these objects or situations can often trigger a fear response akin to the symptoms of a panic attack.When confronted with their phobias, individuals may experience:
Freezing up
An increased heart rate
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)GAD is characterized by excessive and persistent worries about several everyday matters, lasting for months. Therefore, making decisions and committing to choices may be particularly challenging for individuals with GAD.A persistent sense of unease
A heightened susceptibility to:
Muscle tenseness
Disruptions in sleep patterns
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)Individuals who have experienced extreme traumatic events such as abuse or natural disasters may develop PTSD.Excessive vigilance
Flashbacks of the traumatic event
Perceiving threats in everyday situations
Outbursts of anger
Sleep disturbances

It’s important to note that these descriptions provide a basic overview of each anxiety disorder. Symptoms and experiences can vary widely among individuals, and professional evaluation and counseling are essential for proper diagnosis and tailored therapy plans.

Causes of Anxiety

Anxiety disorders stem from a complex interplay of factors involving biological, genetic, environmental, and psychological elements. Understanding these contributing factors can shed light on why anxiety happens and how it can be effectively managed during counseling.

Possible Causes of AnxietyHow It May Contribute to Anxiety
Biological underpinningsWithin the brain’s complex network, neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine are crucial in managing our emotional balance. When the balance of these neurotransmitters is disrupted, it may lead to anxiety and depression.
Additionally, a reduction in Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels can, due to genetic factors, stress, or other influences, cause a significant increase in anxiety. This is because GABA acts as a neurotransmitter that moderates nerve signals, helping to control anxiety.
Genetic PredispositionA history of anxiety within the family may make one more susceptible to anxiety disorders.
Early Life ExperiencesUpbringing and exposure to traumatic or stressful situations during one’s formative years can contribute to the emergence of anxiety later in life.
These adversities may sensitize individuals to react more strongly to stressors, fostering an environment conducive to anxiety disorders.
Triggers and StressorsAnxiety symptoms can also be prompted by triggers — specific events or circumstances that activate the onset of anxiety in those susceptible to such disorders.
Triggers vary between individuals and may include life-altering situations like the loss of a loved one, marital separation, or career transitions.
Social situations and health concerns may also cause symptoms of anxiety.
Environmental FactorsElements such as exposure to loud noises, family composition, crowded spaces, or highly demanding work environments can contribute to heightened anxiety levels.

Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety often manifests itself through a range of distinct physical and psychological symptoms, each indicating the presence of this complex mental health challenge. By identifying these unique markers with the help of counseling, individuals can gain a clearer understanding of their experiences and seek appropriate support.

Here are some key signs that could indicate the presence of anxiety:

Possible Signs of AnxietySymptoms
Physiological responsesPanic attacks
Intense nausea
Dry retching
Gastrointestinal distress:
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Gastric reflux
Stomach ulcers
Feelings of losing control
Fears of fainting
Disrupted sleeping patterns
Night sweats
Sweaty palms
Trembling hands
Body shakes
Tingling sensations in various parts of the body
Impaired concentration and mental paralysisDifficulty in focusing
Mental numbness
Moments of feeling mentally paralyzed
Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
Specific phobias (such as crowded places, public presentations, or germs)An intense feeling of fear when confronted with their phobia.
Fear of judgmentConstantly worrying about what others think
A persistent fear of being judged negatively
Heightened irritabilityDifficulty in managing emotional responses
Excessive frustration or anger
Overwhelming emotionsBreaking down in tears without a clear trigger
Incessant worrying about various aspects of their lives:
Work-related performance
Academic responsibilities
Personal relationships
Financial stability
Overall well-being
Avoidance behaviorsSteering clear of situations, environments, or activities that evoke intense feelings of anxiety, such as avoiding social interactions or shying away from crowded places.

The Purpose of Anxiety and Where It Goes Wrong

For many people, anxiety stems from a deep-seated belief that they are not competent or capable of handling what life throws at them. This may not even be a conscious belief. People with chronic or severe anxiety can be extremely successful professionally or personally, but they often believe it’s because of their worry or anxiety-type solutions that they choose that make them successful.

One purpose of anxiety is to rev up a person’s fight or flight mode for survival. Anxious people are constantly worrying about what might happen in the future. They play out all the potential worst-case scenarios of what might happen. This constant state of heightened alertness for potential future disasters leads to compulsive planning and backup strategizing, which, while intended to offer protection, often results in paralysis and an inability to engage with the present. This cycle of focusing on future anxieties to distract from current unsatisfactory realities—be it in personal relationships, financial struggles, or health concerns—only serves to neglect the present, where real change is possible, thereby ironically fostering the very outcomes feared. This is where counseling for anxiety can help people look at where they feel out of control and create plans to develop an internal sense of safety and security.

When Should You Consider Going for Counselling for Anxiety

Embarking on anxiety counseling in Singapore is beneficial when emotions feel overwhelming and daily life becomes challenging. Recognizing the signs that indicate a need for therapy is crucial in taking the first step towards wellness.

SignWhy Therapy May Be Needed
Disruptions to your daily lifeWhen anxiety starts to obstruct your routine activities like work or school, it’s a clear signal that therapy might be needed. This continual interference with daily functioning can result in decreased productivity and satisfaction, highlighting the importance of seeking therapeutic intervention to reclaim control.
Strained relationshipsAnxiety can greatly affect your interactions and bonds with others, leading to misunderstandings or conflicts. Such tension not only strains relationships but also isolates you from support networks, making professional guidance crucial.
Difficulties achieving your goalsWhen anxiety prevents you from reaching personal or professional milestones, you should consider seeking therapy to address these barriers.
Social withdrawalIf you find yourself actively avoiding gatherings or social events due to anxiety, you can get professional support to overcome these fears and learn how to form and maintain healthy relationships.
Disruptive or worsening physiological responsesExperiencing significant physiological responses that negatively affect your daily life, such as insomnia or difficulty breathing, indicates that it might be time to seek professional help. These uncomfortable biological reactions are clear signs that your body is under stress from anxiety, and addressing them with professional counseling can provide strategies to manage their impact on your well-being.

Begin Your Path to Growth with an Anxiety Therapist

Counselling for anxiety can manage one’s present-day issues and figure out how to address them. Avoiding issues in the short term is helpful, but it creates long-term problems. An anxiety therapist can help identify the cause of your anxiety and equip you with helpful tools and techniques to manage your anxiety.

M.S., NCC, CTRT, USA Sex Therapist, Hypnotherapist

Ms. Tammy Fontana, offers her expertise in individual counseling, drawing upon a foundation of clinical training and an impressive eight-year counseling career. Her specialization in working with children and families underscores her comprehensive approach to fostering lasting change in the community.

Her experience in the field of counseling includes significant roles at distinguished organizations such as, Alife, The Star Shelter, Singapore Anti-Narcotic Association, and Simei Health Care. Moreover, she engages in intensive child-client treatment within residential care, facilitated by her close collaboration with MCYS.

Notably, Ms. Fontana’s dedication and expertise have been recognized through her passage of the US National Counsellor EXAM (NCE), earning her the esteemed title of a Nationally Certified Counsellor (NCC) in the USA. She has also successfully completed her 3000-hour clinical practicum and internship under the seasoned guidance of a senior US licensed Counsellor (LPC).

Currently, she holds an M.S. in Mental Health Counseling from the esteemed Capella University, an institution approved by The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programmes (CACREP). Her journey is one of empowerment, education, and a heartfelt desire to catalyze positive change. With her, clients find a compassionate partner, a skilled guide, and an unwavering advocate on their path toward well-being and growth.

Therapy Options for Anxiety

When it comes to addressing counselling for anxiety, two primary therapy options stand out for their effectiveness:

  • Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT is a highly effective method that focuses on identifying, understanding, and changing negative thought patterns and behaviours. It equips individuals with strategies to challenge and alter these thoughts, leading to healthier and more positive responses to stressful situations.
  • Exposure Therapy: This therapy is particularly beneficial for those whose anxiety is linked to specific fears or situations. Through gradual and controlled exposure to the sources of anxiety, individuals learn to diminish their avoidance behaviours, ultimately reducing their anxiety levels.

Experienced therapists tailor the therapy to suit the individual’s needs and circumstances, often utilising a combination of both CBT and exposure therapy. Their empathetic approach and deep understanding of anxiety allow them to foster a safe and nurturing environment, making personalised care a cornerstone of their practice. 

What Happens During Anxiety Therapy?

Understanding Your Anxiety

The counselling session will start with exploring the specific characteristics of your anxiety, identifying whether it manifests as a pervasive sense of fear and worry, social anxiety, or concerns tied to particular scenarios.

Tailoring Your Therapy Plan

The counsellor will then explain the fundamentals of anxiety and its cycles, crafting personalised strategies or interventions that align with your unique situation. These strategies may include relaxation techniques like deep breathing or muscle relaxation, cognitive restructuring to challenge and change negative thought patterns, maintaining a worry journal, and systematic desensitisation for overcoming specific phobias.

Reflecting and Planning Ahead

After each counselling session, it’s beneficial to allocate 10-15 minutes for reflection or to jot down your thoughts. This time allows you to process what was discussed, assess any insights gained, and consider any topics or questions you might want to address in your next session. This practice can enhance the therapeutic process, helping you to connect more deeply with your journey towards managing anxiety.

Consider an Initial Consultation Session

Through an initial consultation we’ll help you frame goals and outcomes of therapy and what that would look like to achieve it. Clinics offer both in-person and online therapy services to provide the most effective and comfortable therapeutic experience possible.

Anxiety Counseling Frequently Asked Questions

What is the connection between anxiety and depression?

Anxiety and depression often share a complex relationship, frequently coexisting and intertwining. They are distinct disorders that share common emotional features, such as persistent negative thoughts, low mood, and reduced interest in activities. 

Understanding the connection between anxiety and depression is crucial for proper diagnosis and effective therapy during counseling. This is because anxiety and depression can manifest together, amplifying each other’s symptoms.

How many anxiety counseling sessions do I need?

The number of counseling sessions needed for managing anxiety varies based on individual circumstances. Some individuals find relief after a few sessions, while others may benefit from more extended support. Experienced therapists will collaborate with you to determine a suitable plan tailored to your needs, ensuring progress throughout your journey towards well-being.

When should I go for counselling for anxiety?

You should consider seeking anxiety counseling if you experience persistent worry, fear, or overwhelming anxiety that interferes with your daily life. If you find it challenging to manage symptoms on your own, or if anxiety disrupts your relationships and functioning, professional counseling can provide guidance and strategies to cope with your situation.

What are the options for anxiety therapy?

There are a few options one can consider when seeking therapy for anxiety. These are namely:

  • Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a method that focuses on identifying, understanding, and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. It equips individuals with strategies to challenge and alter these thoughts, leading to healthier and more positive responses to stressful situations.
  • Exposure Therapy: This therapy is particularly beneficial for those whose anxiety is linked to specific fears or situations. Through gradual and controlled exposure to the sources of anxiety, individuals learn to diminish their avoidance behaviors and manage their anxiety levels.

What happens during anxiety therapy?

During therapy for anxiety, the therapist will first conduct an initial session to understand the specific characteristics of your anxiety, whether it’s a general fear, social anxiety, or scenario-specific concerns.

The counselor will then explain the nature of anxiety and its cycles, creating personalized strategies tailored to your needs. These may include relaxation techniques, cognitive restructuring, maintaining a worry journal, and systematic desensitization for phobias.

Following each session, you should then spend 10-15 minutes reflecting. This includes processing discussions and preparing for future sessions to deepen your engagement with the therapeutic process.

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Through an initial consultation we'll help you frame goals and outcomes of therapy and what that would look like to achieve it.

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