Anxiety Counselling in Singapore
We all encounter moments of worry or stress in our daily lives. These feelings are a natural part of being human, particularly in times of uncertainty. However, for some individuals, this anxiety does not merely pass.
Persistent anxiety can drastically affect one’s ability to engage effectively in work, social interactions, and educational pursuits.
It can also strain personal relationships with family and friends.
The silver lining, though, is that anxiety disorders are treatable, often through anxiety counselling in Singapore, behavioural therapies (eg psychotherapy in Singapore) and, in some cases, medication.
The holistic combination has been proven highly beneficial for many grappling with anxiety disorders.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Everyone can experience anxiety differently. However, below are some common signs that you may suffer from anxiety.
If you relate to 2 or more of the below symptoms, anxiety counselling can help you.
Common signs of anxiety include:
What Causes Anxiety?
Anxiety can be considered a survival mechanism hardwired into our biology. The ‘fight or flight’ response, a primary aspect of our ancestral survival kit, is essentially a manifestation of acute anxiety.
The two primary responses to perceived threats allowed our ancestors to react swiftly to danger. In modern times, our threats aren’t typically predators but complex social and environmental stressors.
However, our bodies still respond in much the same way, creating feelings of fear and apprehension that we recognise as anxiety.
While this perspective provides an overarching understanding of anxiety’s roots, numerous other contributing factors exist.
These can vary significantly from person to person and may overlap in many cases. Some of the factors are:
- Environmental factors: Traumatic events, like abuse or divorce, can lead to an anxiety disorder.
- Medical factors: Physical health issues, like thyroid or heart arrhythmias, can produce anxiety symptoms.
- Genetics: Anxiety disorders may be hereditary due to a possible genetic link in families.
- Brain chemistry: Misalignments in brain circuits related to other emotions could contribute to anxiety.
- Substance use: Both caffeine and alcohol, as well as certain illicit drugs, can cause or worsen anxiety.
Remember, having one or more risk factors does not mean a person will develop an anxiety disorder such as social anxiety.
The mentioned elements may increase the likelihood, while the actual development of anxiety disorders can be a complex interplay of many factors.
What Does Anxiety Feel Like?
You may feel constantly scared, worried, or nervous if you have anxiety.
Anxiety feels similar to the nervousness you may have before a big presentation or event – except with anxiety disorder; those feelings do not fade away after the event.
Feeling persistently anxious can affect your daily life negatively. For example, you may find it hard to unwind, relax, or even find it hard to engage in self-care activities such as journalling or meditation.
Additionally, you may also experience physical symptoms such as a racing heartbeat, fast breathing, or an unsettled feeling in the stomach (ie, it may feel like your stomach ‘dropped’ or feels heavy).
Sometimes, the physical symptoms may be subtler than the emotional symptoms. Other times, physical symptoms can be so intense that it feels like a heart attack. As explained before, both physical and emotional symptoms can manifest differently for everyone.
In severe situations or if you have chronic anxiety, you may feel an ‘impending doom’ – as if something terrible is about to happen, even when you are safe.
Some people may face a constant but low level of anxiety. In contrast, others may have rare but intense bouts of anxiety, often called panic attacks.
Regardless of the severity of the symptoms, if you are suffering from mild or severe emotional distress, please reach out to anxiety counsellors at TYHO for professional support.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Understanding the individual nature of each type of anxiety disorder is key to seeking appropriate treatment and managing symptoms effectively.
Read this section to learn more about the different types of anxiety disorders.
1. Generalised Anxiety Disorder
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterised by chronic, excessive worry that is difficult to control and lasts at least six months.
Individuals with GAD often anticipate disaster and are excessively concerned about everyday matters such as health, money, family, or work.
The constant state of worry can make it difficult for them to perform daily tasks, and they may struggle with concentration and decision-making.
For instance, someone with GAD might spend hours every day worrying about a range of things, from whether they left the stove on to whether they’re performing well at work to concerns about the health of a perfectly healthy loved one.
2. Panic Disorder
Panic disorder includes recurrent and unpredictable panic attacks – which is an episode of fear or worry that intensifies within just a few minutes.
Symptoms of panic disorder include heavy breathing, sweating, trembling, and feeling like you are in constant danger even when you are safe.
The symptoms can vary depending on individual experience. For example, some may have heavy breathing while others may have more physical symptoms such as muscle pain or prickling sensation in the skin.
All types of symptoms can negatively affect a person’s daily life. People who struggle with panic attacks constantly live in the fear of dreading the next episode.
Due to the constant preoccupation – affected people may start to avoid places or situations that trigger anxiety.
For example, someone who had a pain attack in their office may start to avoid their co-workers or may even quit work to specifically look for remote or work-from-home jobs to avoid experiencing the same situation again.
Quitting work abruptly may cause issues in other aspects of life, such as finances. Sometimes, the experience may also lead to low self-esteem or a lack of trust in oneself.
In other cases, people with panic disorders may altogether avoid social events or meeting other people and develop agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia is the fear of interacting, social settings, or circumstances that may cause panic. It was previously known as social phobia.
3. Specific Phobias
Phobia, in general, is an intense, irrational, and uncontrollable fear of an object or situation. Specific phobias are similar, but people may have a persistent fear of a very specific thing or activity.
The phobia is usually not related to the actual danger of the object. For example, some people may fear developing a disease, even when they are healthy and have not previously experienced any physical health issues. This phobia is known as nosophobia.
On the other hand, a person’s phobia might be directly associated with the harm that a specific object or situation has caused. For example, if someone had a negative experience with swimming (eg slipping inside the pool), they may develop a fear of drowning, known as thalassophobia.
Even the mere thought of water or a pool could trigger intense feelings of fear and dread. Hence, in severe cases, people may even avoid travelling to places with a waterbody.
People with specific phobias may also constantly check their surroundings to avoid their feared object. The preoccupation may increase stress and anxiety.
Interestingly, according to research, nearly 53% of Singaporeans fear drowning, and it is the most common phobia faced in Singapore.
4. Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety is now also known as social phobia. People with social anxiety may have intense fears, apprehensions, and stress related to social situations.
The fear is closely linked to embarrassment or recurring and uncontrollable thoughts about being negatively judged or perceived by others.
However, social phobia and shyness are quite different from each other. A person with shyness may feel embarrassed or shy talking or interacting with people, but it does not affect their life in any way.
On the other hand, people with social anxiety may avoid activities such as talking to strangers, speaking in groups, or even eating in front of other people.
It is important to note that a person can have both shyness and social anxiety at the same time. The idea is that not everyone who is shy has social anxiety, but everyone who has social anxiety may show certain signs of shyness.
5. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a major subcategory of anxiety disorders, although it is now differentiated by recurring, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviours (compulsions).
People with OCD may feel forced or compelled to engage in certain routines or rituals that they have created for themselves. The rituals could consume a lot of time and significantly affect their daily lives.
For example, someone with OCD might feel compelled to count to 100 before every work meeting and associate the action with overcoming feelings such as work-related stress or anxiety.
The rituals may become a problem when the person is late for the meeting – however, they may still refuse to join until they finish their count.
Sometimes, the rituals may take hours to complete and thus interfere with work, personal, and social life.
6. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
A person may develop Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if they have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event in their childhood or adult life.
Symptoms of PTSD may include intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings about the event long after it has ended.
The symptoms can manifest as flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, or extreme preoccupation with the traumatic memories – which may then negatively affect regular and daily activities.
For example, a person who suffered from domestic violence may have constant flashbacks related to the violent memories. Due to the recollection, they may avoid meeting other family members, relationships, or even friends for fear of getting hurt again.
PTSD can also cause sleeping issues where one might struggle to either fall asleep or stay asleep for a long time. Furthermore, the person might also have difficulty concentrating or focusing during the day.
Anxiety disorders often co-exist with PTSD, as the symptoms may overlap due to the similarity.
PTSD is treatable. Many TYHO Therapists in Singapore are trauma-informed. Please visit each Therapist’s profile to see if they can help you with PTSD (ie see the ‘Issues Therapist Can Help With’ section).
Myths and Facts About Anxiety
There are many myths and misconceptions about anxiety disorders. Here are eight of them:
Anxiety isn’t a real illness.
Anxiety disorders are a real condition, just like heart disease or diabetes. They can significantly impact a person’s health.
Anxiety disorders are a sign of weakness.
Anxiety disorders are not a result of personal weakness. They can affect anyone, regardless of their strength or resilience.
Anxiety disorders are just an extreme form of normal worry.
While worrying or feeling anxious in certain situations is normal, anxiety disorders are far more intense. They involve excessive worry and fear that persist and can worsen over time.
Only traumatic experiences can cause anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders can also result from a combination of genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
People with anxiety disorders just need to “snap out of it.”
Anxiety disorders are complex and cannot simply be overcome through willpower. Suggesting otherwise can make individuals feel more misunderstood and isolated.
Anxiety disorders are not treatable.
On the contrary, anxiety disorders are among the most treatable. They can be managed effectively with therapy, lifestyle changes, and medication.
Medication is the only solution for anxiety disorders.
It is often most effective when combined with other treatments, like cognitive-behavioural therapy and mindfulness techniques.
Anxiety disorders will eventually go away on their own.
Without treatment, anxiety can persist for many years. It is important to seek professional help if you are experiencing anxiety symptoms.
Anxiety Counselling in Singapore
Regardless of the type and severity of your anxiety (ie mild, moderate, severe), our anxiety counsellors in Singapore can help you.
On TYHO, you can receive holistic support through psychotherapy in Singapore, self-care strategies, and free access to several mental health resources.
Read this section to learn more about the types of therapies TYHO counsellors in Singapore may use to help you. Additionally, we also share information on how you can get the most benefits out of therapy!
Types of Anxiety Therapy
1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a well-regarded treatment for anxiety. It focuses on identifying, understanding, and changing thought and behaviour patterns that lead to anxious feelings.
In CBT, individuals are guided to recognise thoughts that cause them distress. For example, a person who automatically associates workplace challenges with personal failure would be helped to notice this pattern.
Subsequently, TYHO Therapists work with clients to reframe such negative thoughts. The person might learn to see such challenges as opportunities for growth instead of personal inadequacies.
Practical coping strategies form an essential part of CBT. Techniques like progressive muscle relaxation or visualisation exercises are explored during therapy sessions.
For example, someone afraid of flying might practice calming visualisations of peaceful travel.
2. Exposure Therapy
Exposure therapy specifically aims to reduce fear and avoidance behaviours associated with anxiety triggers. Therapists may use exposure as it is especially beneficial for specific phobias and PTSD.
The therapeutic process involves gradual, controlled exposure to anxiety-inducing situations or objects.
For instance, an individual with a spider phobia may first be shown pictures of spiders. Progressively, exposures become more direct, allowing the individual to hold a spider or be in a room with one.
The goal is for the person to learn that their fears are often outsized compared to reality. Exposure reduces their instinctual fear response.
3. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy
Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a subtype of CBT. DBT includes elements from traditional CBT exercises and combines mindfulness activities and tools.
Therapists use DBT as it is an effective treatment for conditions that cause intense and uncontrollable emotions.
Using mindfulness techniques such as body scan meditation, Singapore psychologists at TYHO will help clients focus on the present moment rather than worrying about the past or future.
Mindfulness techniques are especially helpful when the person utilises them outside therapy sessions.
For example, someone with social anxiety may learn therapeutic DBT tools and focus on conversations and their bodily reactions instead of worrying about other people’s perceptions.
Some of the other DBT tools include distress tolerance and emotional regulation. Through these methods, people learn to accept and overcome distressing emotions without resorting to unhelpful actions or maladaptive behaviours (eg rash driving or consuming excessive alcohol).
4. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
ACT, another variant of CBT, takes a unique approach to dealing with anxiety. Instead of trying to modify or eliminate distressing thoughts, ACT encourages the acceptance of these thoughts as transient mental events.
Cognitive diffusion, a central technique in ACT, helps individuals perceive thoughts as mere words, not factual truths.
A person fearing a job interview might believe, “I will fail because I’m not good enough.” Cognitive diffusion would guide them to see this thought as just that – a thought, not an inevitable truth.
ACT also encourages commitment to actions aligning with personal values. It helps individuals live meaningful lives despite their anxiety.
If someone values social connection but avoids parties due to anxiety, Therapists who use ACT will help them commit to attending social gatherings, thus honouring their value of connection.
Anxiety Counselling in Singapore: What to Expect
Below are some of the things you can expect when you start anxiety counselling at TYHO:
Initial assessment: The first session will involve a comprehensive assessment. Your Therapist will enquire about your symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle to understand your experiences and needs.
Therapeutic plan: Your Therapist will develop a personalised therapeutic plan based on your assessment and the information you share about your background. The plan may include an outline of the therapeutic approach and the goals you will work towards. Your Therapist will also provide their clinical impressions.
Skill learning: As therapy progresses, you will learn and practise new skills to manage anxiety. Therapeutic skills could be cognitive strategies to challenge negative thoughts or relaxation techniques to calm your body.
Regular check-ins: Your Therapist will check your progress and adjust the therapeutic plan as and when necessary. Constantly evaluating your progress ensures the therapy remains tailored to your needs and experiences. This is especially important as your needs for therapy may either stay the same or change every once in a while.
Homework: Therapy often includes tasks to complete outside of sessions. Your Therapist may assign therapy homework, which may include practising newly learned skills, journaling about your experiences (eg tracking your thoughts when you always feel emotional) or challenging yourself to face anxiety-inducing situations.
Long-term strategies: Towards the end of therapy, your counsellor will work with you to develop a long-term strategy to manage anxiety. Learning therapeutic tools to use in your real life will help you maintain your progress even after therapy ends.
Try to openly communicate with your Therapist as much as possible. The more information you share about yourself, the better your Therapist can tailor your therapeutic plan.
How to Make the Most of Anxiety Counselling in Singapore
Firstly, try to find a TYHO Therapist you truly trust. To do so, you can visit each Therapist’s page and read about issues they can help with, qualifications, specialisations, and therapeutic approaches.
You can also watch the Therapist’s short videos to get to know them better before you book a session.
Research has consistently shown that creating a positive and strong therapeutic relationship with the Therapist can significantly result in positive therapy outcomes.
You can determine if a Therapist is the right match for you by looking at factors such as safety and open-mindedness. If you feel safe enough to openly share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, you may have the right match.
Be assured that we select only those professionals who strongly align with TYHO’s core values – which include empathy, non-judgmentalism, and open-mindedness.
However, if you don’t feel comfortable with your current Therapist, please feel free to change. Finding the right professional for your needs may take some time, but it is an important factor that sets the foundation of therapy.
Secondly, try to use therapeutic tools even outside therapy sessions. Using tools can involve completing assigned therapy homework, trying new skills such as cognitive restructuring, or reflecting on your previous sessions.
The work you do outside of your sessions can greatly improve the progress you make within them.
Finally, do not be afraid to provide feedback to your Therapist!
If you are finding certain aspects of therapy difficult, or if you are not sure you are making progress – discussing these concerns with your Therapist can be hugely beneficial.
Questions to ask your therapist:
Preparation for therapy:
Remember, anxiety counselling is a space shared between you and your counsellor in Singapore. By actively engaging with the process and keeping open lines of communication, you can make significant strides towards managing your anxiety.
Know the signs.
Our Counsellors Who Can Help
Have you considered counselling for anxiety in Singapore? Below are some of our Singaporean Therapists who may be able to assist.
Psychotherapist & Counsellor
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Interested in joining our newsletter and staying connected?
Drop your email address below to receive mental health news, latest TYHO articles, and tips delivered to your inbox monthly.