What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a common feeling in challenging situations. Some anxiety is good as it mobilises our body for action, keeping us alert and helps with motivation and performance. Natural anxiety tends to diminish when you get used to the situation, identify ways to reduce the challenge, the situation changes, or if you find a way to take yourself away from the situation.
When is Anxiety a problem and potentially meeting a diagnostic threshold?
These feelings become a problem when they are of an unnatural intensity or when they persist even when we don’t need them anymore. Anxiety can make us uncomfortable, worried, scared, prevent us from doing things, and generally make life difficult. If anxiety gets too intense, goes on for too long and cannot be regulated, it can make us feel unwell and distressed (physically and mentally).
Do I need to get help with my Anxiety?
You should seek professional help if you find it hard to control your worries and the feelings of anxiety. Examples of this lack of control are if the feelings are constant and affect many aspects of your daily life, at times even preventing you doing the things you want to do. Anxiety is a symptom and not a diagnosis in its own right. You don’t need to reach a diagnostic threshold in order to get help and getting help early could prevent further deterioration and distress. Getting professional help will allow you to better understand the specific nature of your anxiety. Anxiety is the main symptom of several conditions, including panic disorder, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, separation anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder (social phobia). Anxiety is also a common feature of a depressive disorder and other more severe mental health conditions.
What are the main symptoms of Anxiety disorders?
There are two main categories of anxiety symptoms, namely physical and psychological. Physical symptoms can affect almost any part of the body and any system of the body. The most common ones are shaking, sweating, heart pounding, difficulty getting a breath or hyperventilating, muscle pains, headaches, feelings of tension. Emotional symptoms are often a feeling of impending doom, dread, loss of control, fear of going mad or doing something inappropriate in addition to repetitive, simplistic and rigid thought processes (rumination) or a tendency to fixate on worst-case scenarios. Cognitive symptoms can include a racing mind, worrying, and intrusive or disturbing thoughts.
Anxiety is a very treatable condition and you should not suffer in silence. There are two strands of treatment, psychological and drugs. Generally, the first line of treatment is time-limited psychological therapy and in particular, using a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) informed approach to help you better understand your anxiety, find ways to relax and achieve a calmer state of mind. This foundation allows you to collaboratively develop new behavioural and cognitive coping strategies to manage anxiety and reduce a range of avoidant mechanisms as these are likely to maintain if not exacerbate anxiety symptoms. During therapy, you will be required to take ideas from therapy and practice them regularly between sessions.
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