The majority of us wouldn't hesitate to see a specialist about our physical health so why not our mental health? We know from research that many people suffer in silence for months or years before they seek help. You don't have to suffer alone or feel a sense of being stuck, at Wisdom Health you're in safe hands.

Although we have a diverse group of psychologists able to help people with all kinds of mental health issues, we are recognised as leaders in helping people with the following:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Relationship or couples counselling
  • Trauma

Anxiety disorders

"About 10 % of Australians will be affected by anxiety disorders at some point in their life." 1997 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing

There are some situations – such as an exam, job interview, sports carnival, meeting a new group of people for the first time – in which it's quite natural to experience a certain level of anxiety. For most of us the anxiety related to these events quickly disappears once the event ends.

For one in ten Australians the constant experience of anxiety affects their mood, the way they think and feel about things, their behaviour, ability to function, and has a range of physical symptoms that all impact negatively on overall quality of life, relationships, work, sleep and physical health.

If you recognise some of the following symptoms in yourself, we recommend you speak to one of our psychologists who specialise in the treatment of anxiety. The psychological treatments and programmes used at Wisdom Health are backed by years of clinical research, providing symptom relief and a route back to greater enjoyment of life.

Symptoms of anxiety:

  • A sense of being apprehensive, panicky, or on alert to danger all the time
  • Having a feeling of impending dread, doom, the sense that 'something bad is going to happen'
  • An increased heart rate
  • Shallow breathing or hyperventilation
  • Physically trembling, shaky
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Muscle tension and soreness.

Help is at hand – treatment is highly effective

Although the symptoms of anxiety can feel overwhelming, once the specific type of anxiety is diagnosed, typically people can start to feel better after a relatively short course of treatment, 8-12 sessions.

Our psychologists specialise in treatment of the following anxiety conditions:

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Phobias
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

For your information we have provided a brief explanation of the anxiety disorders we specialise in.

Please note the following information should not be used as a tool for self-diagnosis. We suggest you seek professional advice, and undertake a thorough assessment process if you have questions about any of these conditions.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive compulsive disorder is when a person experiences persistent, unwanted and intrusive thoughts and fears, called obsessions and must perform certain behaviours, called compulsions, to ease or avoid the obsessive thoughts and fears. The relief from the compulsive acts is only short term so hence constant repetition is required which creates a seemingly never ending vicious cycle. Performing constant rituals can become extremely time consuming and debilitating, consuming a person's life.

OCD affects children, adolescents and adults. Whilst adults generally have some insight into their condition, children and adolescents may have limited understanding and the earlier the intervention the better. As such we have specialists for adults, children and adolescents.

Some common experiences of OCD include the following, although there are many more:

  • Obsessions around the fear of germs and dirt resulting in compulsive repetitive hand washing, often making the skin raw or bleeding.
  • Obsessions of things not being in order resulting in compulsive, repetitive reorganisation of the kitchen cupboards.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

This is a condition whereby for at least 6 months a person experiences persistent and unrealistic worry about everyday life situations, such as school, work or finance concerns. GAD often coexists with other anxiety disorders and depression.

General symptoms include:

  • Muscle tension, typically sore jaw, neck or back and/or headaches
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Difficulty concentrating or paying attention
  • Feeling on edge and nervous

Panic disorder

This is when a person experience recurrent episodes of uncontrollable anxiety, commonly called panic attacks, which usually surge to a peak within 10 minutes.

Panic attacks are very frightening for the individual, and symptoms include:

  • Feelings of dread, thinking you are going to die or go crazy
  • Difficulty breathing – feeling tight in the chest or hyperventilation
  • Evaluated heart rate and blood pressure
  • Nausea and/or diarrhoea
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Tingling, chills, sweating, feeling like you are going to faint

A single panic attack does not mean that a person has panic disorder, although the person may have fears of the panic attacks returning and that fear contributes to an overall feeling of anxiety. Some people may experience a panic attack associated with a highly stressful period in their life and then be free for many years of such attacks. A diagnosis of Panic Disorder is unusually made after the person experiences recurrent panic attacks and changes their behaviour as a result, or begins worrying about future attacks.

Phobias

A phobia is an overwhelming and unrealistic fear of something or of a situation that causes intense psychological and physical distress. This may include fear of an animal or insect, fear of flying, heights, having an injection or seeing blood. Although sufferers usually have a level of knowledge that their fears are greatly exaggerated, they often feel powerless to control their feelings to the extent that the phobia can dominate their lives.

All phobias produce similar symptoms, such as:

  • Overwhelming anxiety or panic when thinking about the feared object or situation, or when actually faced with the object or situation.
  • A physical response such as rapid pulse, sweating, increased blood pressure, shaking, difficulty breathing, nausea or diarrhoea, chills, feeling faint.
  • Making all possible attempts to avoid the object or situation.
  • A feeling of paralysis and being unable to function.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Experiencing first hand or witnessing a traumatic event can be highly disturbing and produce a sense of shock and stress on both the psychological and physical level. Some examples of traumatic events include: sexual or physical violence, a natural disaster, war, or a severe car accident. PTSD is where the stress of the event continues long after the initial shock from the incident.

The symptoms of PTDS include:

  • Re-experiencing the traumatic event, such as through nightmares or flashbacks during the day
  • Experiencing a physical stress reaction when reliving the event, such as rapid pulse, sweating, increased blood pressure, shaking, nausea or diarrhoea, tightness in the chest
  • Trying to avoid all memories, triggers and people associated with the event
  • Trouble sleeping, relaxing, or concentrating
  • A feeling of detachment from other people
  • Impaired day to day functioning

Specialties–Pain

"One in five Australians will suffer chronic pain in their lifetime" (National Pain Summit March 2010)

Here at Wisdom Health we have award winning pain researchers who specialise in treatment programmes that are rated by participants to be highly effective in helping manage pain and regain quality of life.

Our speciality is helping people with chronic pain

For most of us the pain we have experienced is transient, it heals within a certain time and we move on with our lives.

For those who experience chronic pain - pain that persists beyond usual healing times or daily pain for at least 3 months in a 6-month period, the experience of pain extends on and on, often with seemingly no end in sight.

Chronic pain is Australia's third most costly health problem. It is estimated to cost around $34.3 billion each year and is often considered a disease in its own right. Traditional medical treatments for chronic pain, such as opioid pharmacotherapy, surgery and regional anaesthesia are costly, are often effective, however they pose significant side-effect risks often have limited efficacy without multidisciplinary care.

Pain relief - holistic treatment programmes get results

Evidence shows that by taking a multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of pain, significant relief and improvements to people's lives can be achieved in a relatively short time frame.

This means looking at pain in a multi dimensional way, including its physicality, emotional aspects, the way we think about pain, and how we interact with people in respect to our pain.

Aspects of treatment may involve the following:

  • To help with the emotional aspects of pain – training in mindfulness meditation, coping skills, relaxation skills
  • To help with unhelpful thoughts about pain – typically using a Cognitive Therapy approach and/or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
  • To help the physical pain – movement and exercise designed by a physiotherapist
  • To help with our relationships with others– communication skills and stress management skills

For your information we have provided some information on pain. Please note the following information should not be used as a tool for self diagnosis, we suggest you seek professional advice, and go through a thorough assessment process if you have questions about chronic pain. The first line of treatment and referral for any pain complaint should be your GP.

Common aspects of chronic pain:

  • Significant daily pain for at least 3 months, within a 6 month period
  • Ongoing pain from an acute injury that has not healed within usual time frames
  • The pain may feel like shooting, burning, tingling, electric shock like if there is a neuropathic component
  • Difficulty sleeping from the pain
  • Changes in mood, including a sense of helplessness
  • Loss of enjoyment in usual activities
  • Requiring higher levels of pain medication to cope with daily activities
  • The pain you have intensifies in periods of stress
  • Your ability to study or work is affected to the extend you need have considerable time off
  • Fatigue
  • Lowered immune system

Common types of chronic pain

The most common types of chronic pain in Australia include:

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Nerve pain

What's the difference between acute and chronic pain?

Acute pain is something we have all experienced. We hurt ourselves, we heal and the pain goes away. Acute pain is tissue damage in the body and can often be seen in an XRAY, MRI or medical test.

Chronic pain differs to acute pain in terms of the duration of the pain experience. The pain itself may range from mild to severe. By its medical definition, the minimum time is every day for 3 months in a six month period. For many the reality is years of pain. While some sources of chronic pain can be seen, others are harder to pinpoint the exact physical source. The underlying injury or tissue damage that triggered an acute pain episode may actual have healed, however due to changes in the nervous system the pain persists. This is why chronic pain is sometimes thought of as a faulty alarm system, which doesn't make the pain any less real, but significantly changes how the pain is best managed. Quite often psychological factors like anxiety, stress and depression can be significant drivers of pain at this stage, which is why psychological therapy can be helpful.

I'm currently taking various pain killing medications? Do I have to come off these when I go through one of your treatment programmes?

The decision is yours and best discussed with your GP or medical specialist as medications are outside our realm of speciality. If you are thinking of coming off medication it's crucial to discuss with your medical caregiver as some side effects can be experienced from suddenly ceasing medication. Often people continue their medication in conjunction with the programmes on offer.

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