Anxiety Stress Counseling Therapy Long Beach Orange County
Anxiety & Stress Counseling

Please follow these links to read more specifically about the various kinds of anxiety I work with:
    • Generalized anxiety
    • Trauma (both childhood trauma & adult trauma)
    • Chronic hyper-arousal of the nervous system
    • PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder)
    • OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive disorder)
    • Chronic, low-grade stress/anxiety
    • Phobias & fears

Anxiety and stress might seem like common problems for almost everyone nowadays.  But chronic, low-grade anxiety can actually have a negative effect on your physical health, and high-level anxiety may be the worst kind of psychological suffering one can experience.  High-level anxiety makes you feel like you're living in a slow-motion plane crash all the time.  The adreneline and stress hormones that are released into your blood stream, if experienced chronically, can actually start to eat away at your blood vessels and wear down your muscles and internal organs.  Constant muscle tension and "bracing" yourself pinches off blood flow to your muscles and can create painful conditions throughout your body.  Much scientific study has been done on anxiety and stress, and it can really be the worst thing for you in a variety of ways.

I specialize in treating anxiety and stress, and can help with whatever level or kind of anxiety you are experiencing.  Anxiety comes in a variety of forms -- sudden and intense anxiety over a specific situation; chronic, low-level anxiety over just about everything; social anxiety, health anxiety, and even OCD (obsessive-compuslive disorder)  all fall under the general category.  They have various origins and a vareity of treatments, but they all are the result of our 'danger radar' becoming over active and stuck in the 'on' position.  People who are brought up by critical, capricious, and/or unpredictable parents might even develop a strain of anxiety that becomes 'marbled' into their personality, making them feel anxiously controlling about almost everything, big or little. 

Sometimes people will experience so much stress, low-grade and high-grade, for so long, they can place their bodies in what is called a state of 'chronic hyper-arousal.'  This means that even when you finally get a chance to slow down and relax, you can't.  After a busy, stressful week, you might be looking forward to just relaxing on the couch on a Sunday afternoon, but instead find yourself pulling all the furniture onto the back patio, because you've suddenly decided that everything should be painted.  It may feel like you are being continually productive, but really you are being driven by unrelenting anxiety.  Other symptoms that people have reported to me include unconsciously holding their breath until they suddenly realize they are turning purple and feeling faint.  Chronic, low-grade stress actually causes the breathing to become more shallow, and it might happen in a way that you don't notice, over a span of time.  Suddenly your body experiences the sense of running low on oxygen, and you find yourself gasping or sighing; these are signs that your breathing is shallow and you're not getting enough oxygen into the system.

All forms of anxiety impair your optimal life functioning and can take a heavy toll on your relationship, your friendships, and your work life.  Whatever form it may be taking in your life now, it's a good idea to talk with a professional about what you can do to feel relaxed and happy again.  Please feel free to call or contact me with any questions you might have.





Chronic stress can have a serious impact on our physical as well as psychological health due to sustained high levels of the chemicals released in the ‘fight or flight’ response. Let’s take a closer look at what’s going on.


The Role of the Nervous System

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is a vast network of nerves reaching out from the spinal cord, directly affecting every organ in the body. It has two branches, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic, which have opposite effects.

The sympathetic ANS helps us deal with stressful situations by initiating a ‘fight or flight’ reaction. After the danger has passed, the parasympathetic ANS takes over, decreasing heartbeat and relaxing blood vessels.

In healthy people, the two branches of the ANS maintain a balance — action followed by relaxation. Unfortunately many people’s sympathetic ANS stays on guard, making them unable to relax and let the parasympathetic system take over. If this situation becomes chronic, a whole variety of stress-related symptoms and illnesses can follow.

Mind and body are inextricably linked and the interaction between them can produce physical changes. Our brain notices a stressor, a physical reaction is triggered, and the reaction can lead to further emotional reactions and mental and physical damage. Some problems such as headaches and muscle tension are often directly caused by the bodily responses that accompany stress. Many other disorders, some say most, are aggravated by stress.

The human body is designed to withstand occasional extreme stress, so can survive quite a lot of pressure. It’s important to remember that most negative symptoms can be corrected if you take action. And there’s a lot of help available. If you are at all worried, do not delay in getting expert advice — your peace of mind is worth the effort. The problem will most likely not go away and the worst thing you can do is ignore it.

If you do develop a stress-related illness, at least you will have become familiar with your individual ‘weak point’, and will be able to keep a close eye on it. If similar symptoms creep back, take them very seriously as a warning. Take a close look at your current situation and ease off the pressure wherever possible. Most of the problems below aren’t life-threatening, and controlling your stress levels will help keep them at bay.

Heart Problems

Over the long term, people who react more to stress have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. This risk particularly is linked to people who tend to be excessively competitive, impatient, hostile, and move and talk quickly. Of these characteristics, hostility is often pinpointed as the most significant.

The common stress response of eating comfort foods, with their accompanying fat and salt, is not beneficial to the heart either.

High Blood Pressure

Known as hypertension, this is a very common chronic disease which usually has no obvious symptoms. But it raises your risk of stroke, heart failure, kidney failure and heart attack.
Stress increases blood pressure in the short term, so chronic stress may contribute to a permanently raised blood pressure. If you have a family history of hypertension and heart problems, make sure you have regular checkups with your doctor, and try to follow his advice.

Susceptibility to Infection

There is no doubt that under stress the immune system is suppressed, making you more vulnerable to infections. Allergies and autoimmune diseases (including arthritis and multiple sclerosis) may be exacerbated by stress. This effect can be partly offset by social support from friends and family. Being stressed also slows the rate at which you recover from any illnesses you already have.

Skin Problems

Stress is known to aggravate skin problems such as acne, psoriasis and eczema. It also has been linked to unexplained itchy skin rashes. These skin problems are themselves intensely stressful.

Pain

Continued stimulation of muscles through prolonged stress can lead to muscular pain such as backache. Together with our sedentary lifestyles and bad posture, this makes back, shoulder and neck ache extremely widespread.

Stress also is thought to aggravate underlying painful conditions such as herniated discs, fibromyalgia and repetitive strain injury (RSI). Furthermore, most migraine sufferers say that stress contributes to their headaches, which can last for days.

Diabetes

There is some evidence that chronic stress may lead to insulin-dependent diabetes in people who are predisposed to the disease. It could be that stress causes the immune system to destroy insulin-producing cells.

Infertility

Stress does not normally cause infertility, but the two have been linked many times. People who are trying for a baby are more likely to conceive when on holiday or when facing little stress, and fertility treatment is more successful at these times too.

Reference

Carlson N. R. (2004). Physiology of behavior, 8th ed. New York: Allyn & Bacon.