More than 8 million people in the UK suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder. People can become so used to feelings of anxiety that they don’t realise there’s a problem, and so suffer in silence. As anxious feelings intensify, so does social isolation, physical symptoms, and related mental health problems such as depression.
Essentially, anxiety is a very natural response to the potentially threatening situations we face. When experienced appropriately, anxiety is actually beneficial and can keep you out of harms way; the anxiety you feel while hiking on a steep hill, or driving on an icy surface, will ensure you are more thoughtful about your movements in order to avoid danger. Anxiety helps us focus on staying safe and keeps our bodies in a heightened state of awareness producing the “fight, flight or freeze” response, thus triggering a surge of stress hormones such as cortisol designed to increase your speed, heart rate, and circulation. Although we are wired to react to dangerous situations, anxiety can occur when there is no genuine threat. These days we do not have the same legacy fears as our ancestors – we are no longer prey to snakes, bears and sabre tooth tigers, but our brains will still default to “fight, flight or freeze” when faced with danger. In a sense, your brain becomes increasingly wired for anxiety, such that any potentially undesirable event or emotion becomes cause for alarm; speaking in public, sitting exams, taking the tube or talking to strangers can become fraught with panic and fear. Therefore you become prone to looking out for potential threats, even when they’re not necessarily dangerous or even when they don’t exist.
Your anxiety may be mild, moderate or severe. You may just want to increase your confidence in social situations or your fear is so debilitating that you are experiencing panic attacks or avoiding many of the things in life you once enjoyed. You may also be experiencing the physical symptoms that come with anxiety; feeling sick, shaking, heart pounding and an enduring sense of dread or apprehension, with no obvious cause. Brief anxiety may correspond with a stressful event (such as sitting an exam), but an anxiety disorder will persist for months even when there is no clear reason to be anxious. Whilst the exact cause of anxiety disorders is not yet known, the brain is actively involved in the development and maintenance of anxiety.
Anxiety is managed and treated in several ways. We will look at how you have developed your anxiety and how it is maintained – and devise ways in which you can cope better with the situations that are causing you distress. Some interventions may include breathing and muscle relaxation techniques, distraction strategies, understanding thought processes better and looking at worry.
If you would like to discuss your Anxiety concerns please call or text on the number below, or use the contact form to get in touch.