Berkeley/Albany      Pinole, CA
                         Call (510) 883-4656

Judithann H. David PhD



Anxiety is an unpleasant state typically associated with uneasiness , fear or worry, or outright panic.  It is both psychological and physiological and, as such, needs to be worked with on all levels: cognitive, somatic, emotional, and behavioral.  I regard anxiety to be a normal reaction to stress particularly in our  modern life.  However if the state of anxiety becomes prolonged or well entrenched, then an anxiety disorder can be the result.

How do I work with anxiety? The first thing we do is clarify the type of anxiety you are experiencing and it's duration.  For example, do you have a phobia or phobias?  Panic attacks? If you are experiencing a general anxiety, is it all the time?  Intermittent?  in response to certain situations such as occurs in social anxiety?  Then I begin treatment by working with the body.  I teach relaxation, how to do a body scan and how to work with "felt sense."  Next we move to the thought processes that go with anxiety and strategies to alter cognitions.  There is often "anxiety about the anxiety" in which people fear they will have an anxiety attack at some inopportune moment and embarrass themselves.  And anxiety can mask emotions that are hard to deal with such as anger. 

It is important as you seek therapy for anxiety that you create a positive outlook about it.  It is very easy to avoid therapy as a means of avoiding one's anxiety.  I strive to make every session a positive one and if you do the same (as well as your homework), it is very possible to return to normal levels of arousal rather than anxiety.  The capacity to regulate the nervous system and to calm fears is possible to learn if you put in the effort.


When we are depressed, the world seems gray and dull and we have a felt sense of sadness.  There is a feeling that nothing will ever be different.  We feel helpless or powerless to change anything.  Our bodies slow down and we feel little desire to accomplish anything or do the things we used to find interesting.   We may be sleeping too much or unable to sleep at all.  We may have feelings of shame or guilt and feel that everything that has gone wrong is all our fault.  Depression is about loss and we may have actually lost some important people. 

 How can depression be turned around?  Well, we need to grieve our losses and sometimes start by just identifying them.  Then it’s important to start identifying what our needs are and then work out ways to get these needs met.  We may have to ask others for help and this can be difficult especially for those who are depressed.  We may have some ways of thinking about things that are distorted and need some correction.  Exercise is one of most potent interventions for changing the course of depression and you don’t even have to do that much.  Walk briskly for 10  minutes or pick another type of physical activity that is your favorite.  Do this three times a week.

 Ultimately, we can regain the sense that life is worth living.  Depression is not permanent.  We can regain a sense of self confidence and competence in the way we live our lives.  Need I say that therapy is very helpful and will move you along much faster than you can do by yourself.     


When most of us think about stress, we think of something negative occurring, a stressor, that we have insufficient personal or social resources to deal with.  So there are both external and internal referents to define stress.  Examples of external stressors might be death of a loved one and losses of any kind such as being laid off or getting a divorce.   Other stresses might be dealing with a difficult parent, or a difficult child.   Internal stressors might include the negative things we say to ourselves or unrealistic fears and phobias.  We might be overly self critical or self doubting.  A stressor can be a positive one if it strains our resources such as getting a new job and stress, itself, can also be positive to the extent it motivates us to be engaged in life and productive actions.   

Much of the work of psychotherapy is helping to develop the resources to handles the stressors that occur in our life in a way that restores balance to our life.  Sometimes it means learning better coping skills or developing strategies to meet challenges more effectively.  Sometimes it means being able to remain calm and balanced in the face of adversity or life changes even if they're positive. 

A common thread I like to emphasis is the need to remain balanced  physically, mentally and emotionally.  I call this "feeding the horses" and I like to introduce the metaphor that life is a journey.  We are traveling through the forest on our horses aiming for the distant mountain peak shining in the sun.  But, to make our journey successful we must feed the horses, feed ourselves, clothe ourselves and mend the tents and the tack.  The analogy to our lives is that certain things our necessary to maintain optimal levels of well being.  This includes good nutrition, taking vitamins, exercising, getting adequate rest, engaging in a practice such as meditation or yoga and have a good social network of family and friends.   With a good solid base we can then tackle the problems that are stressing us. 

The opposite of feeling stressed is to feel content with one’s self and one’s life.   While it may be true that there are still difficulties, we feel confident in our ability to handle them.  We are able to give love and appreciation not only to others, but to ourselves as well.

Dr. Judithann David is a psychologist, psychotherapist and coach and serves communities in the East Bay including Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Oakland, Richmond, and Walnut Creek.  She provides individual psychotherapy treatment and counseling for anxiety, depression, trauma and stress.  She helps couples resolve relationship problems, improve communication and create harmonious relationships. 

                                Judithann H. David PhD (510) 883-4656

                   Berkeley/Albany Office                                              Pinole  Office     
                    At the top of Solano Avenue                                                 2646 Appian Way, Suite 21
                         919 The Alameda, Suite 5                                                     Pinole California 94564
  Berkeley, California 94707                                                
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