Connie Fox, M.S., MFT – Marriage and Family Therapist

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Are you feeling on edge, worried, moody, irritable or burdened with thoughts of not being good enough? These symptoms of anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. They can interfere with self-confidence, prevent you from achieving your dreams, and sap joy from your life. Besides the impact on you as an individual, anxiety and depression can wreak havoc in your relationships.

It is important to understand how you are uniquely affected by anxiety and/or depression. What triggers your symptoms, what limitations do they impose on you, how do they impact both you and the people around you, and what strengths do you bring to your own recovery? In an atmosphere of compassion, the healing process can begin by exploring how symptoms have influenced your life.

Painful symptoms can feel like enemies you want to get rid of or avoid. Unfortunately, this natural tendency often makes them more intense. So, what can you do instead? Take an unexpected route to uncover how the symptoms are really trying to help you. For example, Sarah, a highly anxious woman, avoids social gatherings because she gets very tense and is bombarded with thoughts of being unlikeable. She discovers in therapy that her symptoms, while limiting and very uncomfortable, are working hard to protect a vulnerable, traumatized part of her. When Sarah was a teenager, several painful events left her feeling rejected and worthless. Honoring the protective aspect of her anxiety opens the door to healing this young, emotionally injured part of herself.

Perhaps you noticed how I referred to “parts” of Sarah in the above example. When you are distressed by anxiety or depression, you can feel like you ARE the symptoms. The tension, fearfulness, discouragement, or hopelessness seem to take over who you are. Another step in the healing process is to recognize that you are made up of many “parts.” Not only is part of you distressed by symptoms, you also have healthy parts available to help in your recovery. For example, while Sarah has a part that feels rejected and worthless, she also has parts that are steadfast, wise, and caring. These healthier parts can be invited into the process of restoring her self-esteem.

calm-pond-flowerSymptoms of anxiety and depression aim to help, but they can be hurtful too. Their protective intentions are mixed with limiting beliefs and distorted thought patterns. These limitations and distortions, while experienced as true statements, are not accurate reflections of reality. Returning to our example, Sarah believes that she is unacceptable because she is not smart enough to hold an interesting conversation. She tells herself that her high school education is not good enough and people will think she is shallow. In the course of treatment, Sarah learns how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help her change limiting beliefs and distorted thoughts to ones that are more positive and accurate representations of reality.

As your symptoms of anxiety or depression recede, you will likely notice improvement in your relationships. But, when longstanding conflict or dysfunctional patterns of communication are interfering with your intimate relationships, couples counseling may be beneficial.

I am happy to talk with you about your concerns and questions. Feel free to contact me at 619-840-3114.

Examples of concerns we can address in therapy:
Anxiety & Worry Hopelessness Stress
depression-grief-01a Shyness Sleeplessness
Conflict anger-01a moodiness-01

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