Approximately a quarter of the population will suffer from anxiety at some time in their lives which is even more than those affected by depression. It is normal and healthy to feel sad or worried about life and its problems and pressures. But when worry casts a cloud over everyday life you may be suffering from anxiety or depression or a mixture of the two.
Anxiety is often divided into three types: General Anxiety, Phobia's and Panic Disorders.
We all have basic emotions like love, hate, anger, fear and sadness to help us manage our lives and survive. Emotions are movement-based and have a beginning, peak and resolution. They bring with them chemical changes in the body which have aided our survival from threats and danger.
Feelings of anxiety and depression have no movement and hang like black clouds, bringing no change or resolution. For many people anxiety is simply a constant state of fear that is felt as an overwhelming disabling worry which dominates their life. It often becomes more powerful and the sufferer slides into a vicious spiral, becomes anxious about being anxious.
The symptoms of anxiety vary with each individual but can include changes in appetite, lack of sleep, loss of energy, loss of concentration, headaches and dizziness. There may be physical pain and loss of control including shaking, trembling, sweating and needing the loo more often.
Relationships can be affected, too as the anxious person withdraws from social contact and the people around or their behaviour is dominated by the anxiety. It can affect their partner, family and colleagues.
Anxiety is often accompanied by intense mental and physical sensations. Cold sweats, trembling, tingling and palpitations are all common symptoms in both anxiety and depression, which often interact. The physical and mental symptoms often create a cycle which can be triggered by any symptom.
Anticipating disasters and dwelling on their impact can dominate the life of an anxious person.
Anxiety feeds on fear, like a bully, and needs to be confronted with skills and constructive thinking patterns.
* Anxiety and depression can run in families as a result of learned and copied behaviour or a genetic disposition.
* Drugs, legal and illegal, can alter moods and may trigger anxiety.
* An illness, shocking experience or trauma may also leave us with a tendency to be anxious.
Treatment and Help
When is the right time to seek help?
Anxiety is a problem which feeds on itself and is often covered up and dealt with in isolation. Help should be sought as soon as possible. If physical symptoms are severe consult your GP as first port of call. Counselling may help to face the fears and rebuild self-esteem.
What aspects of anxiety can Counselling address?
* Help to confront and tolerate your fears
* Defining and overriding your most common anxieties
* Managing and understanding panic attacks
* Learning to be more assertive to manage your life better
* Understanding your own limits and triggers for anxiety and stress
* Understanding the effects of your self-esteem and expectations
* Consider the wider context of your relationships and their effect.
Sometimes understanding where an anxiety originated can help realise a new perspective. Relaxation techniques such as guided fantasy and muscle tension are two techniques that can be used to break the cycle.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has a structured approach to dealing with anxiety in stages. It allows sufferers to look at their own unhealthy thinking and employs graduated exercises in desensitisation and exposure to help people face their fears and anxieties. Psychoanalytic work can look at the origins of the anxiety and offer new perspectives.