Vinita Latham MSc. Psychotherapy & Counselling. BA, MBACP(Reg).

Anxiety

Talking through your fears can help minimise them and awareness of self-help tools can give back a sense of control.

Suffering from anxiety can be very distressing and can permeate all areas of life. The complete lack of control over thoughts and feelings can feel disempowering and frightening and lead to depression. Therapy is one way forward to support change. Talking through your fears can help minimise them and awareness of self-help tools can give back a sense of control. In addition, exploring the underlying reasons that give rise to anxiety can promote self-awareness and establish a clearer perspective on the links between current anxiety and previous experiences.

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Anxiety is a condition that can develop for many different reasons including issues relating to childhood experiences, problems stemming from current life circumstances, issues with physical or mental health or addiction. Anxiety is more than feeling stressed or worried. Anxiety is the anxious feelings that seem to fill your body and mind blocking out all other thoughts and feelings. Anxious feelings are difficult to control easily and can be very distressing with symptoms including racing heartbeat, sweating, digestive problems, headaches, feeling dizzy and racing thoughts. You may experience recurring intrusive thoughts and concerns that seem to go around and around in your mind and you may find yourself overanalysing the smallest of things. The experience of feeling that you have no control over your thoughts and feelings can feel as if you have no control over your life.

There are different forms of anxiety that a person can suffer from including:

Social anxiety: feeling very uncomfortable in social situations – worrying about what others think of you, how they perceive you. Low self-esteem can find you becoming dependent on external validation to feel ok. When you rely on others to feel good, you put yourself in a vulnerable position where your sense of self-worth is in the control of how others relate to you rather than coming from your internal self-belief.

Generalised anxiety: generalised anxiety describes the experience of a person who has constant, persistent worrying thoughts leading to physical and emotional stress. Daily life is dominated by what feels like uncontrollable worrying thoughts. Physically anxiety is experienced as muscular tension, digestive disorders, skin conditions, migraine and difficulty sleeping.

Post-Traumatic Stress: PTSD is a stress disorder that develops due to experiencing a single traumatic event such as unexpectedly losing a loved one, traumatic childbirth, a car accident, an assault or an unexpected health condition requiring intensive care. People experiencing PTSD may experience flashbacks to the original traumatic event suffer from intrusive thoughts have trouble sleeping and have nightmares. In addition, they may experience extremes in emotions, feeling hopeless as if there’s nothing to look forward to, constantly feeling on guard as if something awful is about to happen, self-blame concerning the event and physical symptoms such as heart racing, sweating, shaking, headaches.

Complex Post-Traumatic Stress: CPTSD can occur when a person experiences prolonged ongoing trauma such as experiencing abuse or neglect during childhood, repeatedly witnessing violence or abuse, for example, a child raised in a household where they witness emotional, psychological, physical abuse. CPTSD is more likely to occur at a younger age and is inflicted on you by someone you have a relationship with. CPTSD can also occur when you are the victim of ongoing domestic violence.

CPTSD can have a long-term negative impact on all areas of life – difficulty forming or maintaining relationships, struggling to manage emotions, pervasive feelings of worthlessness, chronic low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.  In addition, physical symptoms can manifest as migraines, insomnia, tight chest, skin conditions and stomach disorders.

Panic attacks: a panic attack is a sudden overwhelming sense of fear felt in the body with increased heartbeat, tight chest, sweating and shaking, feeling dizzy and a struggle to breathe. It can be very frightening, especially if it seems to happen with no explanation as to why. Panic attacks link to underlying conditions such as anxiety, PTSD/CPTSD, phobias. However, they can occur when a person feels fine in themselves, which can feel very confusing. 

Obsessive-Compulsive: OCD at its most severe can be a debilitating condition that negatively impacts quality of life. The obsession in OCD is the uncontrollable thoughts that lead to compulsive, repetitive actions. The thought (obsession) that something awful will happen to a loved one if you don’t (compulsive) perform a specific action. OCD feels like you have no control at all over your negative thoughts. It’s the underlying ever-present overwhelming fear that if you don’t do something in a particular way then something awful will happen.

Phobias: Phobias are experienced as a constant overwhelming fear of an object or a situation. Phobias can be so intrusive that they restrict how someone lives their life or can be more of a nuisance, just causing intermittent disruption.