What is Anxiety?
All of us feel anxious at times – before an exam or job interview, for instance, or if we are worried about our finances.
It’s a perfectly natural response.
But if you begin to feel overwhelmed by anxiety, if it begins to affect your way of life, or if you feel irritable, restless and worried, you may need help getting back on track.
Anxiety can manifest itself in a number of other ways. You might struggle to concentrate on your work or on other tasks; you may constantly worry about everyday things; or you could develop feelings of panic or apprehension.
You may also have physical symptoms, such as:
- Stomach upsets
People with anxiety also experience heart palpitations, sweating, tremors, and shortness of breath.
Types of anxiety
This is an overwhelming worry about everyday social situations. Also called social phobia, it’s not just being nervous about going into a room of strangers, it’s a genuine and overpowering fear of being judged by others. You may worry that your behaviour will result in ridicule or embarrassment.
If you experience sudden feelings of terror – and physical symptoms, such as palpitations, sweating and chest pains – you could have a panic disorder. People with this also sometimes have panic attacks or live in fear of having them.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder
Do you worry all the time about everyday things? Do you feel constantly tense and under stress? Does your mind refuse to switch off from worry? General anxiety disorder (GAD) leaves you experiencing self doubt and negative thoughts.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
This is an anxiety disorder that results from a traumatic event, such as the sudden loss of a loved one, a violent encounter, or sexual abuse.
Sometimes, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) manifests itself months or years after the event and you may find yourself having flashbacks or reliving the ordeal, which lead to anxiety and fear.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
This is not just about being a perfectionist; obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) can take over your life. It is likely to involve compulsive behaviours (“rituals”, such as checking the locks in the house several times, or washing hands over and again) and obsessive thoughts.
When does anxiety become a concern?
There’s no definitive answer as to when anxiety crosses the lines and becomes a disorder.
But if you experience the physical and emotional symptoms listed above regularly or consistently – even though there is no real cause for them – you could have anxiety.
Counselling and therapy could help you.
How can I help?
I help clients who have anxiety disorders through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
CBT is a very effective talking therapy and can be as effective as medication. It is used to treat a number of mental health conditions and is a therapy that helps you to understand how your thoughts, feelings and behaviours affect each other.
Using CBT, I will help you to manage your anxiety so that you can break free of the vicious circle that is causing your condition to take hold.
Together we will explore your negative or irrational thoughts and go through what is causing your emotional disturbance. Then, we will agree a plan on how you can challenge these behaviours, gradually breaking them down and replacing them with a more balanced view that will enable you to get on with your life in a more positive frame of mind.
Because you will take a very active role in your therapy, you will be able to practise what you have learned between sessions and when we meet again, we will assess the changes and see how we can build on the successes.
Ben asked for my help when he was worried about going to university. He had social anxiety and was very nervous about meeting new people. He was particularly worried about how he would get on with his fellow students and explained that his over-riding fear was for them to look at him and judge him.
During our therapy sessions, we explored the emotions he felt and how he reacted to meeting new people. We worked together to find a way for Ben to feel more confident in new social situations, which was achieved by looking for evidence to support or contradict Ben’s thoughts and how Ben could deal with these thoughts.
Ready to get help?
If you are feeling anxious or are worried you have an anxiety disorder, please contact me by telephoning 07850 447585.
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