What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a term used to describe feelings of apprehension, fear, nervousness and worry. Anxiousness is one of the most common health problems in the UK today, with more than 1 in 10 people (according to Anxiety UK) likely to experience a disabling anxiety disorder during their lifetime.
Anxiety is a normal reaction to have when we are faced with any kind of pressure – being asked to do something new. That might be stepping outside our comfort zone. It may be having to fulfil expectations, either of ourselves or of other people or working to deadlines and timescales. So many aspects of our daily lives cause stress and when it remains within healthy bounds we barely notice it. It is feelings of anxiousness which give us that push to overcome procrastination; to “get the job done”; or to prepare ourselves for events in our lives which are important to us, whether that is a job interview; a speech; moving house; examinations; marriage; or any other situation we may face in life. It gives us the edge to act and achieve.
Sometimes though, anxiety becomes our normal response to everyday living. We find ourselves feeling anxious about things which previously we would have dealt with easily and without question or doubt. The Mental Health Foundation tells us that Generalised Anxiety Disorder (that is general anxiety without a fixed focus) affects up to 5% of the population in the UK; and accounts for up to 30% of mental health problems which people consult their GP for.
Types of Anxiety Disorder
There are a number of different types of anxiety disorder. I commonly encounter the ones below through my work as a therapist and counsellor:
- Social anxiety disorder can make it difficult to interact with others, as we fear being judged by people we come into contact with. This can cause us to withdraw from and avoid meeting or being with others as a way of avoiding triggering our anxiety.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can manifest as a means of controlling our anxiety. This might be in the form of repetitive actions, such as continually checking that doors and windows are shut and locked. Perhaps it is manifested by repeated routines such as hand washing; or in a less visible way by intrusive and distressing thoughts.
- Panic disorder (panic attacks) can be very frightening, triggering symptoms such as: palpitations; nausea; confusion and breathing difficulties. These attacks tend to peak and die away within around ten minutes. For some an attack can be more prolonged. It is not uncommon for a panic attack to be triggered simply by fear that one might occur.
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a non-specific state of anxiety which affects every aspect of our daily life. It is estimated that up to 5 in 100 people live with this disorder. It can lead to a constant state of apprehension and fear. Rather than having a specific trigger, GAD is ever present and manifests as a “worst case scenario” response to everyday situations. This can range from being convinced that we are going to fail before we start something – to imagining that our partner has met with an accident on the way home because they are running ten minutes late.
Overcoming anxiety requires our commitment to what can be a gradual process of replacing negative response patterns with positive ones, particularly when our issue is deep rooted and sustained. New techniques and tools, designed to help us turn our lives around need to be practiced daily on an ongoing basis; until they become part of our normal daily function. The more committed we are to finding a resolution the more effective treatment has been shown to be.
Do you identify with any of the symptoms of anxiety described above? Counselling, BWRT or hypnotherapy can help you to overcome your problems. Contact me today to make an appointment.