Panic disorder is the experience of unexpected panic attacks that occur in the absence of any situational threat. Panic attacks are episodes of intense fear or discomfort. During an attack you may feel shortness of breath, tingling sensations, stomach distress, ringing in your ears, a sense of impending doom, trembling, light-headedness, and sensations of choking, chest pain, sweating and heart pounding. Individuals with panic disorder may live in fear of having another panic attack and significantly change their behaviour as a result. Those with panic disorder often develop agoraphobia, that is anxiety about being in places or situations from which escape may be difficult or that help may not be available in the event of having an attack. Situations may be avoided or endured with dread. If left untreated, panic disorder may lead to chronic debilitating anxiety and it rarely goes away by itself. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is very effective in the treatment of panic disorder and agoraphobia. CBT helps people correct their myths, misconceptions, and judgments about these disorders.
Social anxiety disorder is a severe form of shyness that can cause problems in people’slives. It is the fear of one or more social situations. Feared situations may include public speaking, meeting new people, attending parties, asking for dates, eating in public, speaking to people in authority or disagreeing with others. Individuals with social anxiety disorder are afraid they will act in ways that will make other people think poorly of them. Sometimes they may have panic attacks. Sometimes, people with severe social anxiety disorder may have few friends, feel lonely and have trouble accomplishing their goals in school or at work.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for social anxiety disorder that helps you change the beliefs that cause you fear. You will learn to recognize the negative thoughts and to think more realistically about social situations and yourself.
People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may have obsessions, compulsions or both. Most people with OCD have both obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are recurrent, intrusive thoughts, images or impulses that are unwanted, and cause significant distress. Even though a person tries hard to suppress the obsession, it continues to reoccur in an uncontrollable fashion. Obsessions usually involve upsetting themes that are not simply excessive worries about real-life problems. Some of the most common obsessive content includes contamination by dirt or germs, losing control and harming oneself or other people, doubts about one’s verbal or behavioural responses, repugnant thoughts of sex, deviations from orderliness or symmetry, or fear of sudden sickness (i.e, vomiting). People are often upset by these thoughts/obsessions as they go against their beliefs and values.
Compulsions (also known as rituals) are repetitive behaviours or mental acts that a person performs to prevent or reduce distress or prevent something bad from happening. Individuals may feel driven to perform the ritual even though they try to resist it. Common compulsions include repetitive and prolonged washing in response to fears of contamination, counting to a particular number or repeating a phrase. OCD can have a significant negative impact on functioning and put strain on family and close friends.
People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) have persistent, excessive and uncontrollable worry on a daily basis. Individuals may also be on edge, be easily fatigued, have difficulty concentrating, feel irritable, experience muscle tension, and have problems sleeping. If left untreated GAD may lead to other problems such as panic attacks or depression.
CBT is an effective treatment for GAD that can help you correct maladaptive thinking patterns, learn problem solving skills and progressive relaxation techniques.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is triggered by a terrifying or traumatic event. The event may have been experienced or witnessed firsthand, and involved physical harm or threat of physical harm. Individuals with PTSD re-experience the traumatic event through flashbacks, nightmares or frightening thoughts. A person suffering from PTSD often will avoid places, events or objects that are reminders of the experience. They may feel emotionally numb or have strong guilt, depression or worry. Difficulty sleeping, feeling irritable or angry all the time, and feeling tense or on guard are other symptoms of PTSD.
CBT is designed to reduce the upsetting memories and emotions from the trauma and has been shown to be effective for treatment of PTSD.
Specific phobia is an excessive and persistent fear of a particular object, animal or situation. The fear is great enough that individuals wish to avoid the situation or endure it with significant anxiety. The fear is considered excessive because it is out of proportion to the actual level of threat. Often individuals recognize that their fear is excessive or out of proportion. A phobia has a strong effect on a person’s life and makes it difficult to function normally.
CBT is the treatment of choice for specific phobias. Treatment focuses on slowly and safely exposing a person to the feared situation/object. Research demonstrates that exposure-based CBT is highly effective for the treatment of specific phobias.
Health anxiety involves fears of having or getting a serious disease. Individuals experience high levels of worry, focus on bodily symptoms, repeatedly check for signs and symptoms related to their health concerns, focus on death and dying and often seek the reassurance of friends and family. Health anxiety may occur on its own or it may be part of other problems such as panic disorder (hyperlink), obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression.
We all feel down or depressed from time to time and this is normal. Clinical depression (also called Major Depressive Disorder) on the other hand is characterized by long lasting low mood that impacts your ability to function. Other symptoms may include a loss of interest in usual activities, changes in appetite, changes in sleep, changes in sexual desire, difficulties in concentration, social withdrawal, increased self criticism, and thoughts of, or actual plans related to suicide. Clinical depression may vary in its severity. It is important to identify and treat depression as soon as possible to prevent its development into a chronic problem.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is a structured, practical, and effective intervention for individuals suffering from depression. CBT is the most well-studied psychological treatment for depression and has the most consistent evidence to support its use. Moreover, there’s evidence that CBT reduces the risk of relapse relative to those individuals that are treated with drug therapy.
Depression amongst seniors
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders during the later years of life. Some individuals will have experienced depression before and others will develop depression for the first time in their later years. The symptoms of depression most common in older adults are loss of energy, decreased interest and pleasure in activity, pain and bodily complaints, and complaints of memory problems. Depression worsens an older person’s experience of medical problems and makes it harder for them to recover.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy has been found to be an effective treatment with both young and older adults. CBT is the most well-studied psychological treatment for depression and has the most consistent evidence to support its use. Moreover, there’s evidence that CBT reduces the risk of relapse relative to those individuals that are treated with drug therapy.
Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is characterized by severe mood swings cycling between periods of intense highs (mania) and periods of intense downs (depression). During mania an individual experiences elevated or a highly irritable mood, a decreased need for sleep, increased energy, racing thoughts and is easily distracted. There may also be an increase in goal-oriented activities and excessive involvement in reckless behaviour. In more severe cases, mania may be accompanied by psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions that require hospitalisation.
During a depressive episode, individuals experience symptoms of clinical depression. In more severe forms, clinical depression may require hospitalisation as suicide is a significant threat.
Drug therapy is essential for the treatment of bipolar disorder. Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in combination with drug therapy can help individuals better manage their illness and reduce repeated experiences of mood episodes. CBT uses education and mood monitoring to help people identify triggers of mood episodes and develop a written relapse plan.
Dysthymia is a less severe, but more chronic type of depression. Similar to major depression, symptoms may include sadness, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite or sleep, changes in sexual desire, difficulties in concentration, increased self criticism, and thoughts of, or actual plans related to suicide. Dsythmia may be diagnosed if three of the above listed symptoms are present for at least two years.
Cognitive-behavioural treatment (CBT) of depression is a structured, practical, and effective intervention for individuals suffering from depression. CBT is the most well-studied psychological treatment for depression and has the most consistent evidence to support its use. Moreover, there’s evidence that CBT reduces the risk of relapse relative to those individuals that are treated with drug therapy.
Please be aware that we will continue to conduct all sessions remotely via phone or video in an effort to keep our staff and community safe and practice social distancing. We are still monitoring our phones and email, accepting new clients and scheduling appointments for existing clients. If you have any questions please call or email and we’d be happy to help.