Counselling for Stress, Anxiety and Depression

Stress, anxiety and depression motivate many people to seek the assistance of a professional psychologist.  Sometimes these conditions are narrowly focused and can be tied to specific circumstances, like feeling nervous about meeting up with a group of people or the stress that you might experience constantly trying to meet the demands of tight deadlines, or the quandary you may face in dealing with a workplace bully. When these circumstances exist over an extended period of time symptoms may start to generalize to broader contexts, becoming increasingly frequent, intrusive, and intense,  causing significant emotional distress. Sometimes there are no identifiable stressors that you associate with the symptoms, they feel like they have just come on “out of the blue”.

Although we often talk about stress, anxiety and depression as if they are distinct conditions, in truth there is often considerable overlap between them.   Many people do not neatly fall into one diagnostic category or another.  There are also considerable overlaps in the way they are treated.  Ultimately the need for a diagnostic label is mostly important when it is required for insurance or disability benefits.

  • Stress
  • Constantly feeling rushed
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Hard to concentrate
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Loss of confidence
  • Drop in efficiency and effectiveness, often working longer to make up for diminished productivity
  • Physical sensations like sweating, racing heart, muscle tension
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Getting sick more often than usual
  • Anxiety
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and gastro-intestinal upset
  • Lightheaded
  • Tight chest
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Choking sensations
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating and remembering details
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Pervasive sense of pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest
  • Loss of pleasure
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Persistent aches or pains
  • Persistent sad, anxious, numb or empty feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts

In helping you deal with these issues Dr. Woods will want to understand what is happening in your life at work and at home. He will want to know more about how you experience those events; emotionally, physically and in your thoughts and understandings of them.  Sometimes, taking direct action, and solving problems best resolve the issues.  Sometimes it can be important to change the way you think about or interpret internal and external events. Often assistance in developing healthy life practices and learning how to accept certain situations in your life can also help.

While everyone is different, there are evidence-based approaches that are known to be effective. The therapies that Dr. Woods uses in his counselling are typically Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Mindfulness-based interventions.

You, as many people, may prefer to address your concerns through counselling rather than using medication. You may prefer to talk it through and make important changes with the guidance and support of a professional therapist.  This is the usual approach taken by Dr. Woods.  There are times however, when it is wise to include a physician as part of your treatment team.  When symptoms go beyond a moderate level, medications can often help restore your health more quickly than therapy alone.  Be assured that you will not be pressured into taking medications that you don’t want to take; you are ultimately always in control of your own therapy.