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What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal emotional response characterised by feelings of worry, nervousness, or unease about a perceived or anticipated threat or challenge. It's a natural reaction to stress and can be beneficial in certain situations, helping individuals to stay alert and focused.

However, when anxiety becomes excessive, uncontrollable, or disproportionate to the actual threat, it can interfere with daily life and well-being. Individuals suffering from anxiety disorders experience persistent and excessive anxiety and these symptoms that cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Anxiety disorders can vary in severity and may co-occur with other mental health conditions such as depression or substance use disorders.


Common anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Characterised by chronic excessive worry and anxiety about multiple events or activities.

  • Panic Disorder: Involves recurrent unexpected panic attacks, which are sudden periods of intense fear or discomfort.

  • Social Anxiety Disorder: Intense fear or anxiety of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in social or performance situations.

  • Specific Phobias: Intense fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation, such as heights, flying, animals, or blood.

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Characterised by obsessions (persistent, unwanted thoughts) and compulsions (repetitive behaviours or mental acts).

Symptoms of Anxiety

​Key features of anxiety disorders include:

  1. Excessive Worry: Feeling worried, anxious, dread or paranoid most of the time, even when there is no apparent reason for concern.

  2. Physical Symptoms: These can include increased heart rate, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, muscle tension, headaches, stomachaches, and dizziness.

  3. Cognitive Symptoms: Racing thoughts, constantly anticipating the worst outcome, difficulty concentrating, excessive fear of danger or disaster, and feeling on edge or restless.

  4. Behavioral Symptoms: Avoidance behaviors (avoiding situations that trigger anxiety), compulsive behaviors (repetitive actions done to reduce anxiety), or seeking reassurance excessively.

Causes of Anxiety

The causes of anxiety vary based on the complex interplay of factors, such as genetics, personality & coping style, stressful life events, substance use, childhood experiences. What triggers anxiety in one person may not affect another in the same way. Seeking professional help from a mental health provider is crucial for accurate diagnosis and personalised treatment planning.

What to do When you Feel Anxious: 

  1. Recognise and understand your triggers. Identify specific situations, thoughts, or activities that trigger your anxiety. Awareness can help you anticipate and prepare for these triggers.

  2. Practice relaxation techniques. Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine to reduce overall stress and anxiety levels. Techniques such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and mindfulness meditation can promote relaxation and calmness.

  3. Exercise regularly. Physical activity has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve mood by releasing endorphins and reducing the stress hormone cortisol.

  4. Maintain a healthy diet. Eat balanced meals with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Avoid excessive consumption of caffeine, alcohol, and sugary foods, as they can exacerbate anxiety symptoms.

  5. Get sufficient sleep. Establish a regular sleep schedule and practice good sleep hygiene. Lack of sleep can contribute to increased anxiety. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.

  6. Limit stimulants and substances. Reduce or eliminate caffeine, nicotine, and recreational drugs, as they can worsen anxiety symptoms. Alcohol may temporarily alleviate anxiety but can increase anxiety levels in the long-term when used excessively.

  7. Stay connected and seek support. Maintain supportive relationships with friends, family, or a therapist. Talking about your feelings and experiences can provide validation and perspective, reducing feelings of anxiety.


If anxiety symptoms persist or significantly interfere with your daily life, consider seeking help from a mental health professional at Redwood Psychology Singapore.

Professional Interventions for Anxiety

There are many ways to receive professional help in Singapore for anxiety-related issues, such as anxiety counselling and therapy and psychiatric consultation for medications. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is an effective treatment option for anxiety disorders. Several types of psychotherapy have been shown to be beneficial in managing and reducing symptoms of anxiety. Psychologists and counsellors typically utilise one or more of the following modalities for anxiety counselling and therapy.

1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is one of the most widely used and evidence-based therapies for anxiety disorders. It focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to anxiety. Cognitive restructuring involves challenging irrational or distorted thoughts and replacing them with more realistic and balanced thoughts. Behavioural techniques may include exposure therapy to gradually confront feared situations and reduce anxiety responses.

2. Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is a specific type of CBT that involves gradually exposing individuals to feared objects, situations, or thoughts in a safe and controlled environment. Systematic desensitisation, virtual reality exposure therapy, and imaginal exposure are techniques used to help individuals confront and overcome their fears.

3. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

ACT focuses on accepting unpleasant feelings rather than trying to suppress or avoid them. It emphasises mindfulness techniques to help individuals stay present and committed to their valued directions even though their anxious thoughts tell them otherwise. Mindfulness exercises, cognitive defusion (changing one's relationship with thoughts), and values clarification are key components of ACT.

4. Mindfulness-Based Therapies

Therapies such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) integrate mindfulness practices with cognitive and behavioural techniques to manage anxiety. Mindfulness meditation, body scan exercises, and mindful awareness of thoughts and emotions help individuals develop non-judgmental awareness and reduce reactivity to anxiety triggers.

5. Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy explores unconscious processes and early life experiences that may contribute to anxiety symptoms. It aims to uncover underlying conflicts and develop insight into patterns of behavior and emotions.The therapist encourages free association, interpretation of dreams, and exploration of past relationships to understand how they influence present-day anxiety.

When should I seek Professional Help?

It might be difficult to determine the severity of your anxiety because anxiety is a natural and necessary aspect of being human, but if your anxiety prevents you from sleeping, working, socialising, or running errands, you might consider looking for anxiety counselling or therapy in Singapore.


If you've been feeling anxious for more than half of the week for over six month, it's definitely time to get professional help.

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Anxiety Counselling in Singapore

What you can expect at your first anxiety counselling session?

The first counselling session is a collaborative process where your therapist gathers information, assesses your needs, and begins to establish a therapeutic relationship. It’s important to approach the session with an open mind and be willing to engage in the process of exploring and addressing your anxiety. You and your therapist will discuss what you hope to achieve through counselling. This might involve setting specific goals, such as reducing anxiety symptoms, improving coping strategies, or addressing specific triggers.

What type of counsellor is best for anxiety counselling?

Besides looking for a therapist who is trained to deliver the evidence-based intervention methods for anxiety (see the above section on "Professional Intervention for Anxiety"), other important indicators of a good therapist includes:

  • Training and Credentials: Look for counselors who are licensed or certified in their respective fields and have training or experience in treating anxiety disorders.

  • Therapeutic Approach: Different counselors may specialize in different therapeutic approaches. Research which approaches are evidence-based for anxiety and align with your preferences and needs.

  • Experience: Seek counselors who have experience working with clients who have anxiety disorders. Experience can contribute to their effectiveness in understanding and treating anxiety-related issues.

  • Compatibility: Personal fit and rapport with your counselor are crucial for successful therapy outcomes. It’s important to feel comfortable and understood by your therapist.

Where can I seek help for anxiety in Singapore?

There are many counselling centres, polyclinics, and hospitals that provide psychotherapy for people suffering from anxiety disorders. You can also reach out to Redwood Psychology Singapore and consult our trained psychologists and counsellors.

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