What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a problem when there are persistent feelings of fear or apprehension. It is troublesome because it often interferes with daily functioning, personal growth, and creates uncomfortable physical feelings. It can become overwhelming making the ability to stay rational and objective nearly impossible. Anxiety is based in fear.

What is Normal Anxiety verse Problem Anxiety?

Fear is a valuable emotion. It is our first warning of a problem. By paying attention to our feelings of fear or anxiety, we can determine if we are entering into an unsafe situation, relationship, or path. It is warnings that can help us decide to take action or avoid something potentially harmful. This is normal.

Anxiety is a problem when it interferes with our daily living. When anxiety is high, it can keep us from leaving the house, doing things you intellectually know shouldn’t be a problem, being obsessed with recurrent thoughts of disaster and/or forgetting something, and fear of humiliation, being trapped or specific things like spiders. Anxiety can be generalized to all areas where a person can never feel content.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Remember, all people feel anxious at times and this is normal. If you the following symptoms regularly, some help is in order.

  • Persistent worry
  • Thoughts of pending dome or disaster
  • Inability to stay focused
  • Muscle tension or shaking
  • Racing heart or palpitations
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty staying focused or blanking out
  • Problems sleeping, racing mind
  • Sudden feeling of being somewhere else or looking through a tunnel
  • Nausea or stomach cramps
  • Thoughts or behaviors your unable to stop
  • Fear of humiliation, being center of attention
  • Symptoms of PTSD

The symptoms you experience can be constant or spike to a full blown anxiety attack or panic attack.

What is an Anxiety Attack?

An anxiety attack is a sudden spike in the above symptoms that can feel like a heart attack or that that a person is dying. Having panic attacks can become a vicious cycle. The unpredictability of them can increase the fear of humiliation, fear of being somewhere unsafe as well as fear of dying. The fear of an anxiety attack adds to the list of fears.

What to do about Anxiety?

There are several things that can be done. One is to eliminate the possibility of a physical issue. Have you changed your medicines lately, could you have hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, are you going through menopause? Are you prone to high anxiety or worry?

Two is to look at how your life has changed recently. Are you in a new job, relationship or situation that would cause stress? Could this be normal stress that time will cure?

Three, seek counseling. Counseling can help you discover what the underlying fears and concerns are, help you find solutions to the causes of your anxiety and change your thought patterns to help you build resiliency. Therapy that helps you identify and change your negative beliefs can give relief. Understanding your unique experiences and triggers can give you prevention tools for the future.

Fourth, medications. Often, medication is conjunction with therapy can offer relief. Since anxiety and depression can go hand in hand, the medications can be the same. Depending on the drug, they can have immediate effects or take a few weeks to help. Sometimes the drugs are needed to help relieve some of the symptoms so you can be more proactive to facilitate change.Taking medications are usually temporary; they help you “get over the hump” toward healing then with doctors supervision are tapered off.  Remember, all drugs have side effects and risks so be well informed before taking them.

For help with your anxiety or depression, call South Denver Psychotherapy at 303-730-1144.

Other resource’s:

Mayo Clinic:

Web MD:

National Institute of Mental Health:

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Do you ever feel that you live in the past and worry about the future? Do you feel that you have trouble being emotionally regulated? Dialectical Behavior Therapy can help you feel more in control of your emotions, your thoughts and, better able to handle distressing situations.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) combines cognitive and behavioral therapy, incorporating methodologies from various practices including Eastern mindfulness techniques.

DBT can help you learn skills to help you be more present in your everyday life by learning to be mindful and present in your life. Learning distress tolerance techniques by learning to self-soothe, and be present in the moment. Dialectical Behavior Therapy can help you with your interpersonal relationships and can help you make them more effective. Lastly, DBT can help you become more emotionally regulated. By learning new skills that will help you interpret emotions, reduce vulnerability and, let go of painful emotions.

If you feel that you could benefit from these skills and are willing to make life long changes to your life than give DBT group an honest try.  These groups are one hour meetings, once a week for sixteen (16) weeks. Each session is $30.00 and must be paid at the beginning of every session. For more information about DBT please use the following links

Communication for Couples I

“We don’t communicate well!”

“We never talk.”

These are statements made in couples counseling that are fairly common. So the first question that has to be answered is: What is communication?


Many people don’t think about the fact that EVERYTHING one does communicates something. We think of communication as talking but the look on ones face, ignoring someone, body language, and the tone of voice can  speak louder than words.


If someone asks me a question and I take longer than usual to respond, it can be interpreted by the other person as me not hearing what was said, me ignoring what was said and farther, being hostile to what was said. I may be thinking about how to respond, be confused about what was said and trying to sort it out, I may by nature be more deliberate in my responses or indeed be ignoring the request.


It is helpful to go back to the last time you had a conflict that felt like miscommunications. Were you angry, disgusted or had you lost patience with that person? If so, in subtle (and maybe not so subtle) ways, you may have let them know of your feelings without telling them so you were both dealing with hidden messages. Think in your mind an alternative way that you could have communicated. Something like “I am really losing patience and I feel like you made a commitment to complete this and I don’t know what to do about it” instead of “When are you going to do this?” in an angry tone. This invites problem solving, you own your feelings, your not accusing the other of perceived motivations or emotions and there are no hidden messages.


If you work on this, over time your skills will get better. Have patience. It takes a while to get good at fully communicating in a way that encourages solutions. Have patience on your partner and give each other HUGE credit for trying and getting better.


More next time on “Communication for Couples”. Pam Kennel

What are the signs and symptoms of depression?

Following are the signs and symptoms of depression according to the National Institute of Mental Health. A person may have some or all of the symptoms and experience varying degrees of the symptoms.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.

Depression can be mild to very devastating. It can start off mild and worsen over time. It can start with events that one would normally expect to feel down, such as a death or start when one has completed a goal or moved to a new job. Change can trigger depression. If the low feeling continues over time, such that when people around are questioning why you are still feeling down, the depression may have spiraled into something serious. This is a critical time to get help, before it becomes worse and entrenched. Often, the person experiencing depression doesn’t realize how depressed they are.

For counseling help with depression, call 303-730-1144 and contact your doctor to eliminate other potential causes.

(Source: NIMH)

Learn more about depression.

The role of anger

One of my go-to sayings in my counseling practice is “Anger: a vital sourse of energy, motivation and positive change in the world (Colin Ross)”. I use it to help remind myself and my clients to use their anger for their benefit and to reinforce the position that there is nothing wrong with having emotions, anger included. It is the ability to use our emotions as an asset that is important. Emotions give us the first hint of that something is different or needs changing. Anger can tell us that that there is something unjust. Of course not always. It can signal us to re-evaluate our own interpretations as sometimes the emotions are from old lingering values. Or it could be a protective emotion too, protecting us from more vulnerable feelings such as hurt or fear.
When you get angry, it is helpful to allow the feeling to come, without looking for blame, observe what the trigger was, decide what you want to change, others treatment of you or your own response to the situation. You can then ask rationally for help in changing the situation if that is possible. If not, accepting that some things will not change and decide if you live with that.