Understanding Anxiety


Understanding Anxiety

Most of us feel anxious at some point – we are all familiar with exam nerves, worrying about a big presentation at work etc. Anxiety about new and unfamiliar situations is perfectly natural. However, for some people this becomes a semi-permanent state. The psychotherapist Carl Jung described anxiety as ‘fear spread thinly’, which is a pretty good description!  Understanding anxiety is the first step to overcoming it.  

The symptoms are pretty much the same as for stress, but, unlike stress, anxiety is often not related to any particular situation or circumstance. It can become a way of life for some people.  Anxiety can manifest itself in different ways for different people.  Generally it can feel like a low level feeling of fear, butterflies in the tummy, racing heart, inability to think clearly, insomnia.  Do any of these sound familiar?  Understanding what causes anxiety is the first step to really addressing the problem.

Anxiety is often related to particular thought patterns, where people dwell on the negative and fail to see the positive.  Or where someone always expects the worst to happen and believe that everything in their life is providing further evidence that this is the case. Psychologists call these negative automatic thoughts and I will be posting more on that soon.

Anxiety can also be a learned behaviour – so if someone in your family was overly anxious then there is a chance that you might suffer from anxiety as well.

Anxiety can lead to panic attacks. These can be really frightening and debilitating. Sufferers often describe a panic attack feeling almost like a heart attack – pains in the chest, shortness of breath, dizziness, and sweating. This is the body responding to a frightening situation in the fight/flight response but, because there is no immediate actual danger, we can confuse it with something else.

The good news is that anxiety is treatable. Many of the stress tips I have posted on my Facebook page will help to provide some relief from anxiety. But there are other treatments which are really effective for treating anxiety conditions, such as cognitive behaviour therapy and hypnotherapy.

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