Dr Tzafettas provides therapeutic services in the following areas:
Anxiety disorders / Stress
This includes a range of problems including:
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD): GAD is a long-term condition that is defined as a constant worry about a variety of situations/things. People suffering from GAD report feeling anxious most of the time and have difficulty relaxing. As soon as they resolve one issue they start worrying about another one. Common symptoms of GAD include: feeling restless/worried; having difficulty concentrating and/or sleeping; heart palpitations; irritability; being constantly “on edge”.
- Phobias: A phobia is an overwhelming fear of object, situation, or animal. This fear is characterised by an exaggerated sense of danger about a situation or object that is debilitating for one’s life. Common symptoms of phobias include: palpitations; shortness of breath; dizziness; trembling; sweating; and, nausea.
- Panic Attacks: Panic attacks occur suddenly and without any apparent trigger. The symptoms can be very frightening and distressing and include: an overwhelming sense of anxiety; heart palpitations; sweating; trembling; hot flushes; shortness of breath; a choking sensation; nausea; dizziness; feeling numb/weak; dry mouth; an urge to go to the toilet; and a fear of dying. The physical symptoms that are very pronounced during a panic attack, are very frightening and can be accompanied by thought of fear. Therefore, people who suffer from panic attacks tend to live in fear of the next attack creating a vicious cycle. As frightening as panic attacks can be it is important to keep in mind that they do not cause physical harm. However, the symptoms may be so severe that it may feel like you are having a heart attack. Most panic attacks last for five to 20 minutes. Also, the frequency of the attacks varies, with some people experiencing them once or twice a month and others experiencing them several times a week.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD is a common mental health disorder characterised by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. OCD can be distressing and severely impact on your life. Some common examples of OCD are a fear of germs leading to obsessive cleaning/washing; a need for everything to be in a particular order; fear of something bad happening leading to repeated checking, mentally repeating and other unhelpful behaviours. However, sometimes OCD is more of a mental process, i.e. having images of harming one’s children and interpreting that as a sign that one may want to engage in that behaviour, leading them to avoid being alone with their own children; asking partner to lock away any sharp objects so one does not have access to potentially harmful objects. It is important to note that in these cases there is actually no danger – the fact that the person is having these intrusive thoughts/images has nothing to do with their intention to act on them. Nonetheless, therapy is key in helping people experiencing such conditions to acknowledge these intrusive thoughts/images for what they really are rather than interpret them in a negative way. Common symptoms of OCD include: obsessions – unwanted intrusive thoughts/images that cause feelings of anxiety and discomfort; compulsions – a repetitive behaviour / ritual or mental act that one feels they need to carry out in order to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings caused by the obsessions.
- Social anxiety: Social anxiety or otherwise called social phobia, is an overwhelming fear of social situations. It usually develops during adolescence but even though it improves naturally for some people as they grow older, for others it does not go away on its own. Common symptoms of social anxiety include: avoidance or excessive worry about social interactions (i.e. conversations with others, eating with or in front of others, going to parties, presentations, speaking on the phone, being in busy places); constant worry about something that one may think is embarrassing (i.e. blushing, fidgeting, sweating); difficulty in doing things in front of others for fear of being judged/criticised; avoidance of eye contact; physical symptoms such as sweating, heart palpitations, and trembling.
- Health Anxiety: Health anxiety is excessive worry about your health causing one great distress and affecting daily life. Some people with health anxiety have a medical condition that they worry about excessively. Others have some symptoms (i.e. headaches, chest pain) that they misinterpret as a sign of a serious illness and thus worry about excessively. Finally, other people may have no symptoms at all and just worry about their future health. In all cases, the sufferer is preoccupied with having a serious illness to the extent that this is affecting their daily activities and relationships. Usually individuals suffering from health anxiety engage in either of the following behaviours: 1) constantly seeking information and reassurance (i.e. via internet, doctors, family and friends); or, 2) avoiding doctors’ appointments, TV programmes, or anything that may act as a reminder of the condition they believe they suffer. Nonetheless, these people are never truly reassured even despite having tests that disconfirm the condition and thus get trapped in a vicious cycle where they constantly need that reassurance. Likewise, there will always be reminders of anything that we fear we may be suffering from so it is difficult to constantly keep avoiding these cues without this causing disruption to our lives.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD is an anxiety disorder that develops after a significant, distressing event. This may appear straight after the incident or weeks, months, years later. People who repeatedly experience traumatic events (i.e. neglect, abuse) may be suffering from complex PTSD. Common symptoms of PTSD include: nightmares, flashbacks, feelings of irritability and guilt, physical symptoms such as sweating, nausea, or trembling.
- Low self-esteem: Even though all people have moments when they lack confidence, some people have a deeper-rooted issue when it comes to how they view themselves. When someone has a low self-esteem, they are more likely to view their life in a negative way and be more critical of themselves. They tend to believe that they are inadequate or less deserving than others. Whilst low self-esteem usually develops in childhood, difficult life events and periods of stress can add to this. The vicious cycle that characterises people with low self-esteem is that due to their feelings of inferiority they often hide away from social situations (whether this involves work or leisure activities) and this, in the long-term, only reinforces their underlying doubts and fears of not belonging.
Depression is a low mood that persists over time and interferes with your life. Most people will go through phases in their lives when their mood is low and they feel miserable. However, these feelings usually run their course and the person returns to their usual self. In the cases, where this does not happen and the person finds it difficult to function in their day to day activities, depression may be the cause. In its mild form, depression can mean you are in low spirits and find it difficult to enjoy things in life or even keep up with your daily tasks. In its most severe form, depression can be very dangerous as it may make one feel like they want to give up the will to live altogether. Regardless of the level of severity, depression can be very disruptive in one’s life and therefore help is of essence in order to restore your functionality and ability to enjoy life.
Common symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling down, upset or tearful
- Feeling restless, agitated or irritable
- Feeling guilty, worthless and down on yourself
- Feeling empty
- Feeling isolated and unable to relate to other people
- Finding no pleasure in life or things you used to enjoy doing
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling hopeless and un-motivated
- Feeling suicidal
- Avoiding social events and activities
- Difficulty in concentration
- Memory difficulties
- Sleeping difficulties (whether too much or too little)
- feeling tired all the time
- Loss or increase in appetite
- Moving too slowly or being restless
This includes postnatal depression, adjustment difficulties, anxiety.
Having a baby is a big life change for anyone. However, 1 in 10 women (and to a lesser extent partners) experience postnatal depression within the first year of giving birth. Postnatal depression is a type of depression that requires help as quickly as possible, otherwise the person suffering from it may continue to do so for many months or even experience a worsening of symptoms that will only have a negative impact on them, the baby and the family overall.
Common symptoms of postnatal depressions include:
- a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
- lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in anything
- feeling tired all the time
- sleep disturbances (either difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much)
- difficulty bonding with the baby
- withdrawing from people
- difficulty concentrating
- frightening thoughts (i.e. about hurting one’s baby)
Whether you are experiencing some of the above symptoms and think you may be suffering from postnatal depression or whether you are finding it difficult to adjust to the changes of parenthood (i.e. feeling like you have lost your identity; change of daily routine and activities; feeling like you have lost control over your life; feeling anxious about raising your baby), there is help you can get through therapy to make you re-gain a positive perspective over life and help you adjust effectively to your new life demands without compromising your own needs.
Psychological difficulties associated with physical health issues
Meaning adjusting to a new health condition, living with chronic pain.
An increasing amount of people are being diagnosed with a long-term condition that is accompanied by feelings of anxiety and/or depression. Living with constant pain or finding out that you are suffering from a health condition can feel overwhelming and difficult to adjust to. However, with the techniques of CBT we can help you alter your thinking patterns into more adaptive ones and also start adjusting your daily activities and behaviours into ones that will be sustainable over time and help you gain some quality of life within the context of your health diagnosis. This can also be helpful for individuals who are suffering from medically unexplained symptoms – this can be even more frustrating as you do not know what the cause of your symptoms is, but with the help of CBT you can train your brain to focus on the here and now and develop habits that will help you move forward and not dwell on the uncertainty of the unknown.