Counseling for Anxiety & Stress in Chicago
Struggling with anxiety? Living with fear, stress and worry? Need a therapist in Chicago to help you find healthy coping options?
If the answer is yes, you’ve come to the right place. That’s because much of the work I do as a counselor focuses on the twin worlds of anxiety and stress.
When you think about it, the two go hand in hand. And while they may share similarities, they are uniquely different. You may be wondering how?
I’ll break it down for you in basic terms.
What is anxiety?
In a nutshell, anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. For example, going to a job interview in the Loop or giving a public presentation on the city’s North Side.
In both situations, you may experience fear, worry, or nervousness. Some of this is normal and to be expected. But if these feelings are left unchecked, they can make life miserable.
In the clinical sense, if you have extreme feelings of apprehension, worry and fear or have struggled with these emotions for more than six-months, you may have an anxiety disorder.
Here is a comprehensive list from the Mayo Clinic to help deepen your understanding.
There are several different types of anxiety that I work with. These include:
- Social anxiety disorder
- Phobias and fears
- Post-Traumatic Stress
- Generalized Anxiety
- Career anxiety and job worries
- Panic disorder
- Public speaking fears
I’ll share more a bit later on how I approach these life challenges. But for now, let’s take a look at anxiety’s best buddy, stress.
What is stress?
Physiologically speaking, stress can be defined as the rate of wear and tear on the human body. Think of stress as a state of suspended anxiety where life events and responsibilities exceed your ability to cope or manage.
Is some stress normal?
To be sure, all of us experience some amount of stress. Researchers have suggested that some stress may even be good for you. Yes, you read that right.
According to a published report from the University of California at Berkley, stress (small amounts) can act as a barrier against depression. It can also work act as an agent to keep you alert.
In this way, stress feeds into our primal “flight or fight” response.
When you live in a city like Chicago, your stress levels may be high. Contributing factors can include snarling traffic on Lakeshore Drive, changing weather conditions or crowded CTA buses or trains.
Throw in child-rearing, career challenges, and family obligations and it doesn’t take long to see how stress can skyrocket.
So, can you become overwhelmed with stress? The answer is – absolutely.
Are there different types of stress?
The answer is – yes. There are 3 different types of stress that you may not have known about:
- Eustress: This is considered a “good stress”. It happens when we are in certain situations that we find motivational or inspiring. If you fall in love – that might be considered a “good” stress.
- Neustress: This type of stress is neither good or bad (it’s neutral). This term is used to describe sensory stimuli. Example, if you hear about an earthquake on the other side of the world, it would likely peak your senses but not cause anxiety.
- Distress: This is considered the “bad” stress and is often referred to as simply “Stress”.
If you are dealing with distress, you are likely going to fall into two distinct categories:
Stress that is fairly intense but short in nature. An example might be cramming for an exam due next week or being pulled over for a speeding ticket. The operative words here are short in nature.
One the stress causing event is over (i.e. the exam, getting a ticket), your stress level will generally subside. These types of stresses are common and normal.
This particular form of distress is the one that you want to be careful of. Chronic stress is not as intense as acute stress but is usually long in duration.
For example, financial stress might fall under this category if you are struggling to make enough money to live. If you have the type of job with lots of responsibility for metrics (aka meeting a sales number) or if you manage people, you may experience chronic stress.
According to numerous research reports, including information from the American Institute of Stress, chronic stress is associated with illness because your body/mind are in a constant state of arousal.
Let’s take a look at how stress and anxiety can combine in ways that impact your physical life.
Physical signs of chronic anxiety & stress?
There are numerous ways anxiety and stress can manifest in your body. Bear in mind, not everyone responds the same.
Here is a partial list of common physical responses I’ve seen with my Chicago clientele. Bear in mind that some of these symptoms may be a sign of a serious medical problem. That’s why it’s important to tell your doctor about any changes in your physical health.
- Muscle soreness (shoulders, neck and back)
- Gastrointestinal issues like chronic IBS
- Headaches that come on frequently
- Problems sleeping (getting to sleep or staying asleep)
- Frequent blushing/sweating
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Forgetfulness and disorganization
- Increasingly irritable
- Constipation, diarrhea or a mixture of both
- Changes in appetite marked by stress eating or not eating at all.
- Bouts of depression that come from out of the blue
- Increased use of substances, such as alcohol or tobacco.
- Dry mouth, sweaty hands and/or feet
- Relationship problems (arguing, lack of intimacy)
- Exacerbation of current health problems
What can I do about chronic stress and anxiety?
Chronic anxiety and stress is a sign of life imbalance. At some point, something has to “give” in order to bring about homeostasis; a 25-cent term to describe a psychological state of calmness.
My goal as a therapist in Chicago is to help you find homeostasis before something “gives” – meaning your physical or mental health. There are many things you can do to cope.
One way is to attend counseling for anxiety so that you can share your story and learn healthy strategies for working through.
What is anxiety counseling/therapy?
At its core, anxiety counseling (aka stress therapy) is a form of counseling that directly targets the issues happening in your life that contribute to high levels of stress.
There are a number of ways that we help you to accomplish living a less stressful life, including:
- An examination of your “stress triggers” and identification of what’s possible to change in your life.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) aimed at helping you challenge negative self-talk
- The encouragement of physical activity as a pathway to stress reduction.
- Talk-therapy as a conduit to emotional catharsis. This allows you to “empty” your emotional plate.
- Hypnotherapy to teach you relaxation and self-calming skills.
- Mindful exercises in the form of homework, designed to give you real-world coping tools.
- Stress and anxiety management approaches with the goal of helping you avoid common cognitive distortions.
- The chance to share some of your life story in a safe, nurturing and non-judgmental environment.
How can I find out more about anxiety & stress counseling in Chicago?
All you need to do is send me a confidential email using this form or give me a call at 773.704.5300. If I am able to help you, I will. Because I have a fairly busy schedule, it may be that I am full at the time you contact me.
Should this be the case, know that I am happy to provide several quality referrals.
In the meantime, here’s a brief “stress screener” from Mental Health America that you can take online. Some people print this off or jot down the results just before visiting with their counselor. Think of this as a tool for personal insight.
You don’t have to be stressed out or constantly anxious. There are very concrete things you can do to create greater harmony in your life.