Life in DC can be a hotbed of anxiety

Some anxiety is normal and not inherently bad–the capacity to feel anxious is hardwired into us to help us respond to signals of potential threat in our environment, just as the capacity to feel pain helps us to know what potentially hazardous situations we need to stay away from.

When you couple this ability with the overwhelming amount of messaging society bombards people with about the different things they need to do and the ways they could be judged as inadequate, and anxiety can start to go off the rails, like an alarm system that never turns off.

For people struggling with significant anxiety, it can be hard to believe that they will ever be able to get their anxiety under control, but it is possible.

How can counseling help you control your anxiety?

What can cause anxiety?

Our capacity to imagine threats is compounded by the reality of the many challenges we face in our fast-paced daily lives.

Many of us are trying to navigate several of the following major contributors to anxiety:

  • Financial Stress: Money worries, debt, job insecurity, or unemployment can lead to persistent anxiety.
  • Work Pressure: High-stress jobs, overwork, a critical supervisor, and workplace conflict can contribute to anxiety.
  • Academic Stress: Students often face high levels of pressure to succeed academically, which can result in anxiety.
  • Relationship Difficulties: Conflict with a partner, family members, or friends can create significant anxiety.
  • Life Transitions: Major life changes, such as moving, changing jobs, retirement, or having a baby can trigger anxiety.
  • Health Issues: Chronic illness, serious disease diagnoses, or unexpected health crises can lead to high levels of anxiety.
  • Traumatic Events: Experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, including accidents, violence, or any kind of abuse or harassment can lead to intense anxiety
  • Parenting Stress: Raising children, especially in a high-stress environment or as a single parent, can lead to increased anxiety.
  • Caregiving: Taking care of a loved one who is sick or aging can be emotionally and physically taxing, contributing to feelings of anxiety.
  • Cultural or Social Pressure: Experiencing discrimination or social pressure due to one’s race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or other aspects of identity can lead to increased anxiety.

What are some common symptoms of anxiety?

If you are struggling with anxiety, you are not alone. About a fifth of the US population was diagnosed with some form of anxiety in the past year. Some of the common symptoms of anxiety are:


  • Persistent and disruptive worries about things like relationships, work, and finances
  • Frequent fears of rejection
  • Becoming obsessively focused on something
  • Dreading that something bad will occur
  • Fearing a loss of control
  • Difficulty concentrating


  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tightness and pains
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Trembling


  • Avoiding people and situations that could lead to rejection
  • Perfectionism and procrastination
  • People pleasing and difficulty setting boundaries
  • Compulsive reassurance seeking
  • Over or under-controlled eating habits
  • Heavy use of alcohol or substances

What does anxiety therapy involve?

While each person is different and may have unique needs, some of the techniques that frequently help include:

  • Learning what our emotional triggers are and how we can soothe our minds and bodies in the moments of heightened distress when we have been triggered
  • Recognizing how hurtful experiences have contributed to negative beliefs about ourselves and others, and learning to reframe those assessments in ways that make the world seem less threatening
  • Learning how to become less ‘fused’ to our thoughts such that we don’t automatically believe every negative thought our mind produces
  • Learning how to better ground our minds in the present as opposed to the future where we are apt to worry
  • Becoming better able to differentiate between what we can and cannot control, and learning how to accept rather than fret over the things that are out of our control
  • Learning to identify when our mind is making catastrophic predictions about the future and how to reframe those predictions more realistically
  • Identifying the types of interpersonal experiences that would help us feel more confident and learning how to gradually take the risks we need to connect with others and build that confidence
  • Developing a compassionate ‘growth’ mindset where our challenges become opportunities to learn, as opposed to a harsh ‘fixed’ mindset where our challenges are viewed as absolute negative reflections of our abilities

Anxiety Therapy in DC from Dr. Alex Afram

Having a positive experience with a therapist where we feel understood, cared for and supported can also be healing in and of itself and help to alleviate anxiety. With commitment we can master our anxiety and allow peacefulness to emerge.

I draw on techniques from therapies that have been studied and shown to help reduce anxiety (e.g. cognitive-behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, dialectical behavior therapy).

My style as a therapist is collaborative, genuine and engaged. I welcome people of all identities and cultural backgrounds.

"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." - Leonard Cohen

How Anxiety Therapy in DC can help you regain control and manage overwhelming stress

Anxiety can relate to a lot of other emotional challenges. Anxiety that interferes with our ability to engage with important life goals can contribute to depressionPerfectionistic beliefs caused by anxiety often contribute to difficulties with self-esteem and body image. Anxiety often underlies difficulties with anger managementTrauma can lead to heightened levels of anxiety and difficulties with trust. Acute grief can lead to feelings of vulnerability and anxiety.