Other Concerns

A Licensed Professional Here to Guide You

Anger

 

Experiencing and understanding your feelings of anger can help you better regulate your emotions and express yourself more constructively. This ability to experience anger more freely can increase creativity and assertiveness and allow you to be more in charge of your life.

 

In the process of growing up and becoming socialized in our families and society, we often learn to distrust, withhold, or ignore our anger. For example, if we are continually discouraged or shamed when we experience anger, we can develop a phobia about it. As a result, we may overly inhibit anger, negating the energy that could help us assert ourselves, set limits with others, and define who we are and how we want to live our lives. Or, if those around us express anger in an impulsive and explosive manner, we may either learn to either avoid the feeling altogether or imitate unproductive ways of expressing anger.

 

In either scenario, our inability to experience and express anger constructively can negatively affect our ability to manage relationships and carve our way in the world. Having an explosive temper that seems to come out of nowhere hurts us at work and at home. Chronically repressing anger can lead to a variety of other issues, including underperformance in school and work, shyness or social phobias, self doubt, insecurity, and stress-related medical conditions such as headaches, irritable bowel syndrome and unexplained body pain.

 

Using a combination of ISTDP and mindfulness-based approaches, I will help you desensitize your “affect phobia”—your fear of expressing anger and other emotions--through systematic exposure to these conflicted feelings and developing greater awareness of how you may be blocking this feeling which is so critical to our self esteem and general well being. Through this process you will learn techniques to experience and express your anger and other feelings in ways that will help you achieve your goals and improve your relationships.

Anxiety

 

“To survive, animals must avoid predators; humans must

avoid the loss of relationship” (Frederickson, 2013, p. 37).

 

For some people anxiety is a chronic state that they have lived with for most or all of their lives; for others anxiety is episodic, occurring during transitions, loss of relationships, or periods of uncertainty. Your anxiety may come in the form of heart palpitations, sweaty hands, headaches, or an achy feeling in your gut. Or you may experience panic attacks, intrusive thoughts, or obsessions and compulsions. Anxiety can be particularly powerful and visceral because it activates the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, affecting your heart, your lungs, and your digestive system

 

While experiencing anxiety can be extremely uncomfortable and even disabling, remember that anxiety can also serve a positive function: preparing the body to respond to danger. As Jon Frederickson points out, it is not predators that we modern humans need to avoid in order to survive, but the loss of relationship. Whatever threatens our relationships when we are young will create anxiety. When something occurs as adults that reminds us of those earlier experiences, we will feel that anxiety as if the threat of loss were current. For example, if in childhood we learn that a parent perceives feelings such as anger or sadness as a threat, we will become anxious when we feel these emotions. Sometimes we learn this explicitly from the ways we are rewarded for ignoring our feelings--for example, if we are told to be strong and push aside feelings of sadness when enduring a loss or traumatic event. However, more often we learn these things implicitly, not through one or two experiences, but through a thousand subtle interactions that are repeated with our early caregivers. Because implicit learning is mostly unconscious, later on we will have no idea that an emotion inside of us is triggering our anxiety. Yet we carry bodily memories of these early experiences, and anxiety results when a current interaction reminds us of them.

 

In therapy you will begin to understand the cause and effect relationship between your feelings and your anxiety. Exposure to these feelings will reduce anxiety, as your body’s natural threat detection system gradually learns not to react to these feelings with fears of rejection or abandonment. Returning the body’s natural threat detection system to its proper function can not only help us regulate anxiety, but can free us up in many other ways to feel more creative, spontaneous, and fully alive.

Continued —

 

Depression

 

Identifying the root cause of depression is the first step in restoring your hope, self-esteem, and sense of purpose.

 

Anyone can experience depression at some point in their lives. Depression can take many forms and have an equal number of causes. Depression can feel like an unbearable burden that depletes our motivation, saps our energy, and robs us of our vitality and self esteem. Sometimes we experience depression as a harsh judge subjecting us to guilt and self-recrimination. At other times we may feel the weight of unbearable sadness that seems to come out of nowhere. We may experience depression mostly as anger or irritability. We may even just want to escape from our lives or be left alone.

 

Certain junctions in our lives may leave us more vulnerable to depression. These include the more obvious transitions such as divorce, death, and loss of job or career. Sometimes a life event that is supposed to bring us joy--such as getting married or having a baby--can trigger a wave of emotions that lead to depression.

 

Although depression may make no obvious sense at the outset, a skilled therapist can help you uncover the real source of your pain. Understanding the unique aspects of your depression involves a careful and methodical exploration of the triggering events and underlying emotional causes.

Symptoms of depression may include:

  • social withdrawal

  • decreased energy

  • lack of libido or interest in sex

  • loss of appetite or increased appetite; significant weight gain or weight loss

  • diminished self esteem

  • decreased ability to function at work or school

  • guilt, self criticism, and self doubt

  • depressed mood

  • hopelessness or helplessness

  • increased sleep or sleep disturbance

  • lack of interest or pleasure

  • anger or irritability

  • difficulty concentrating

  • anxiety

  • difficulty making decisions

  • difficulty finishing tasks or initiating new projects

  • thoughts of suicide
     

Attention Issues

 

Attention problems can be a result of biological factors such as ADHD or ADD, or a side-effect of depression or anxiety. When you’re stressed out or have a lot on your mind, it is hard to concentrate. You may have difficulty finishing projects or find yourself wandering from task to task. This lack of concentration can have a devastating effect on personal and professional relationships. Understanding the source of your attention difficulties can be an important step on the road to regaining self-confidence and learning how to organize your thoughts and your time.

Even when there appears to be a biological component to your attention difficulties, learning to manage anxiety better can vastly improve your ability to concentrate and accomplish tasks. People with ADD and ADHD often suffer from accompanying self-esteem and depression issues as a result of chronic underperformance or criticism from others due to a condition that is beyond their control. Attention disorders are also some of the most commonly misdiagnosed syndromes. Often we find that people who come to us with a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD actually suffer from chronic, unregulated anxiety or depression, and can be treated successfully with ISTDP and mindfulness approaches.

I can help you improve many areas in your life that suffer along with attention by:

  • learning to regulate the emotional ups and downs that can disrupt your focus

  • improving your ability to be receptive to and read the emotional states of others

  • slowing down so you can digest your thoughts and feel your feelings more fully

Attention issues can impact your life in a number of ways:

  • You may get bored more easily.

  • You may find it hard to complete projects.

  • You may find it hard to concentrate on certain types of projects.

  • You may take longer than expected to complete projects.

  • You may have developed self doubts about your ability to follow through on projects.

  • You may seem tuned out to family members so that they feel you don’t care.

  • You have may a hard time knowing what you want.

  • You may have trouble making decisions.

Following a comprehensive evaluation, I will discuss with you the approaches that would be most effective in improving your attention and organization.  These could include ISTDP, mindfulness approaches, psychoeducation, and referral for medical consultation.

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  • Psychology Today

Stuart Andrews, Ph.D. provides psychotherapy to individuals, couples, children, and adolescents. Dr. Andrews specializes in ISTDP and PACT counseling. He can help with concerns including depression, anxiety, relationship issues, procrastination, personality disorders, trauma and abuse, and Medically Unexplained Symptoms (MUPs), also called Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) or Psychophysiologic Disorders (PPD). His office is located in Reston, VA (near Alexandria, Arlington, Ashburn, Burke, Centreville, Chantilly, Fairfax, Great Falls, Herndon, McLean, Oakton, South Riding, and Vienna, VA; Silver Spring and Bethesda, MD; and Washington, DC).

 

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