Can Therapy Make Anxiety Worse?

Anyone who spent any amount of time on this website knows that I am a very big believer in the concept of self-help.

I do not particularly like the usage of medication as a “cure-all” answer to anxiety and depression.
I believe most cases of anxiety and depression can be treated, if not outright cured, without resorting to medication.

Maintaining a proper diet, exercising, meditating and having healthy relationships can go a very long way.
Still, another belief that I have is that no one method is perfect for everyone.

When it comes to mental health there isn’t a magical pill, be it a literal pill or some other solution.

When people discover that someone has a mental health problem, the first thing that they tell them is to “get help”.

What form of help are they referring to?


Now, there are many forms of therapy, ranging from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to Group Therapy.
Generally speaking, when someone mentions the word “Therapy” they are referring to talk therapy – Counseling.

The idea of sitting in front of a trained expert, talking to them and gaining valuable insights from these discussions.
These insights can range from things that change one’s mindset to things that can be done to improve the condition.

And this can be problematic.

For many different reasons, some standard talk therapy approaches can do more harm than good.

Here are some examples.

Sometimes its just a poor match

Back when I was in the military we had an officer that was trained in psychology act as a counselor of sorts for soldiers who struggle.

It was his job to evaluate the soldiers’ situation and act as sort of mediator between the army and the individual.
He would often time authorize certain things in order aid the soldier with his problems.

It could be anything, ranging from having said soldier relocated to a different base or just ease his current conditions.
This system was established to help those who truly struggle with a mental illness.

It was a shame that so many people chose to abuse it.
Our therapist was faced with so many fakers who were looking for benefits that he ended up distrusting everyone who came by him.

Including those of us who were actually struggling with their mental health.

Why am I telling you this?
The guy was a therapist, yet something between us just didn’t click – He didn’t understand what I was going through and my talks with him were a waste of time.

Still, that doesn’t mean that counseling is a waste of time or anything.

If you are feeling uncomfortable around your therapist for whatever reason then simply try another one.

Not all therapists are the same, and they all have different training, values and overall approach.

Sticking with the wrong person may actually be a waste of time and money, and can only alleviate your stress and anxiety.

They might misdiagnose you

The human mind is a truly complex thing, and few people know this as much as those who treat it daily.

Namely, therapists and psychiatrists.

This becomes obvious during therapy, where they are required to find out the patients problems and help him treat them.

*Misdiagnosis is a very common problem*, and many experts fail to make the right diagnosis to their patients at least once in a while.

You see, in some cases, certain symptoms may be diagnosed as disorders by themselves.
For example, Insomnia is a symptom of depression, and both insomnia, anxiety, and depression share many common symptoms.

In other cases there may be a confusion of cause and effect between the source of the problem and its symptoms.

For example, some people cope with stress and anxiety by smoking cigarettes.
One of the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal is a sense of unease, which can be misinterpreted as anxiety.

Although the smoking does increase the patient’s sense of anxiety it is not the source of his problems.
But it can be misdiagnosed as such.

This misunderstanding of the problem can make the entire treatment useless at best and downright harmful at worst.

PTSD may come back

Bringing up traumatic experiences isn’t always for the best

One of the most powerful approaches to talk therapy has a lot to do with simply talking about your problems.

In a sense, this method makes a lot of sense: After all, how can you fix any problem without correcting what causes it in the first place?

The thing is, in many cases this approach can backfire horribly.

Some therapists insist to bring up past trauma, believing that it is the only way to overcome it.
After all, treating a problem without acknowledging it can prove to be very difficult, if not counterproductive.

In some cases, however, this is not the best approach.

For example, certain cases of anxiety stem from childhood abuse or some other kind of trauma.
Upon the therapist’s insistence to bring up these bad memories, the experience can make the patient more anxious than ever before.

In some cases, the experience can be so painful that the patient is forced to stop taking therapy as a result.

The reason for that is that sometimes the patient is simply incapable of coping with those thoughts at the moment, yet the therapist insists that he talks about them right then and there.

Some therapists use this method as their preferred method, leading many patients to grow extremely uncomfortable around them.

In this case, it is best to either bring that up in your conversations or simply choose a therapist that practices a different approach.

Some therapists put too much focus on the problem instead of the solution

Reviewing the patient’s thoughts, feelings, and struggles are all standard, normal practices that are used in talk therapy.

In many occasions, it is important for the therapist to understand the way his client views certain day-to-day issues and struggles.

By understanding their perspective, the therapist can figure out whats wrong with this point of view in the first place.
This is an important step towards healing.

That being said, this approach can sometimes do more harm than good.

At times, reviewing these problems can cause something that’s known as co-rumination.

co-rumination is, by definition:”

“The frequent and obsessive discussion of a problem or negative opinions”

co-rumination is known to increase ones negative emotions and only discourages any other form of treatment.
This makes sense when you think about it.

After all, spending time with negative people is very likely to make us negative as well.
Another good example would be worry – Worrying about something excessively can actually make you anxious and uncomfortable.

In other words, bringing up those problems so frequently and focusing on these negative emotions can actually increase the client’s feelings of anxiety.

Many therapists tend to focus more on the problem than they do on providing solutions, leading to these instances of co-rumination.

Having a more solution-oriented treatment will likely solve this problem.

Being put into the wrong support group can be harmful

Support groups are another very common method of therapy that most of us are familiar with.

The idea receiving talk therapy with other people is that both you and them will benefit from each other’s support, hence the name.

This approach is great, but if done incorrectly it can actually cause even more anxiety and stress.

I am not talking about any flaws in the approach as a whole, but rather about the placements in those groups in the first place.

Being put into the wrong kind of group can actually be bad for the patient.

For example, a person that suffered from abuse can be put in a PTSD support group, but so can war veterans.

Those groups may suffer from the same kind of disorder, but they won’t benefit from the same kind of help.

Group therapy can be extremely powerful, but only with the right kind of group.
A group share the same problems and wish to benefit from the sessions in the same way.

Anything other than that won’t do the patient any good at all.

Group Therapy can cause problems

Talk Therapy isn’t perfect, but it has its benefits

Look, there is no such thing as a “perfect method”

There isn’t one approach that can solve everyone’s problems and every method has its own flaws.

To treat your anxiety you need to find the methods that work for you specifically.
Once you do, you need to keep going until you experience positive changes in your mental health.

Despite everything that I have just said, talk therapy is a viable and effective method of treatment for many people.
Studies even suggest that, in many cases, it is more effective than medication and drugs.

Still, there are many other forms of therapy that you can try out in case you aren’t getting your desired results.

One such approach is called CBT, a powerful method of self-help.

The best guide to CBT against anxiety that I know of is The Panic Away Program.
It is fully refundable, so you should definitely check it out.

Before you do that, here’s a question for you: Did you notice any of these problems during your therapy sessions?

Write your answers down in the comment section below, I read every single one of them.

If you got any further questions then please contact me by mail and I’ll gladly answer them.

Email: [email protected]

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