What is anxiety and how can seeing a Psychologist help?
Firstly, having anxiety is a normal human experience. Anxiety is not bad for you in its intended form, that of preparing us for danger or a difficult situation. It is therefore not achievable to cease having anxiety. Words like stress, nerves and fear are commonly used to describe feeling anxious. Anxiety symptoms are believed to be triggered by what is known as the “fight or flight or freeze response” (FOFR). This is an automatic response to danger (both real and perceived) and results in the releasing of chemicals into the body causing a range of anxiety symptoms. However, the FOFR is problematic when triggered by situations that pose us no real danger such as walking in to a room and fearing judgement. In other words it is your thinking that creates most of your anxiety.
Common symptoms of anxiety include body sensations such as increased heart rate, excessive sweating, trembling, difficulty breathing, dizziness, and muscular tension; thoughts such as excessive worry about one or more issues, fear of losing control, fear of dying, fear of feinting, underestimating your ability to cope, and overestimating the chances of a bad event happening; and behaviour such as avoidance of sensations and places that lead to feeling uncomfortable or anxious.
Psychologists can help you by providing a range of treatments including Cognitive-behaviour therapy, Mindfulness therapies, Schema therapy and Hypnotherapy. Within these approaches we can provide the following:
- Education about anxiety and how to best respond when anxious.
- Teaching you skills to manage the anxiety including breathing exercises, relaxation exercises, and mindfulness.
- Teaching you how to change the way you respond to anxious thoughts including defusion, mindfulness and thought challenging.
- Teaching you how to confront fear and anxiety using approaches like graded exposure.
- Improving your lifestyle so that it compliments lowering anxiety and managing it better.
- Liaising with your GP to rule out any physical causes of anxiety and to arrange medication if required.