Anxiety is a part of everyday life. Most people will feel anxious about an upcoming test or a job interview, but it can develop into a much more serious issue. Panic disorder, phobias, generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and post traumatic stress disorder all primarily manifest themselves through anxiety. These are serious conditions, which require psychological therapy to overcome. Drugs like benzodiazepines and anti-depressants can help manage the symptoms, but the root causes need to be addressed by a trained therapist if the individual is ever going to overcome the issue.
In simple terms, anxiety is a survival mechanism. In response to a threat, the brain behaves in a set way, known as the “fight or flight” response. To prepare the body for running away or tackling the stressor head-on, the individual’s breathing rate increases, the brain becomes more alert, the heart-rate increases, beads of sweat form to regulate body temperature and digestion slows down. This is largely due to the influence of the hormone adrenaline, which is released in response to a perceived stressor and essentially kick-starts anxiety.
The series of reactions which takes place are extremely useful in more primitive situations, like being confronted with a predator in the wild. The fact that we no longer encounter such serious threats means that more minor issues, such as an impending job interview or an unfortunately timed traffic jam trigger this primitive response. This causes a build-up of adrenaline, but it has no physical outlet in the more modern situations. It remains in the individual’s system for longer, and therefore the symptoms of anxiety persist for much longer than was ever biologically intended. This is why when anxiety gets severe, counselling is very helpful.
The most severe forms of anxiety can result in self-perpetuating cycles and an inability to deal with the pressures of everyday life. Generalised anxiety disorder is characterised by a non-specific anxiety which is pretty much consistent. Panic attacks are more like intense bouts of anxiety, which usually last for between five to twenty minutes, with symptoms ranging from shaking limbs and feeling faint to chest pain and nausea. Frequent panic attacks are referred to as panic disorder. Likewise, specific phobias, obsessive behaviour and post traumatic stress disorder all revolve around crippling anxiety which can be affectively resolved with the help of a trained counsellor.
Medicines used to treat anxiety conditions are generally effective at managing the symptoms of anxiety, but the issue will often resurface if the root cause isn’t addressed. The specific cause of anxiety is difficult to identify, but it can be related to past experiences, genetic predisposition or things such as drug use. Psychotherapy aims to identify the main contributing factors, help individuals understand their specific triggers, teach them methods of managing anxiety and help them confront or otherwise tolerate their fears.
Determining the best course of action for your own or your loved one’s anxiety can be challenging. The specific issues which contribute could be extremely sensitive, and a professional therapist is absolutely required to confront them safely. Remember that anxiety can become debilitating if it continues unchecked, so finding treatment is essential. If you have any questions about anxiety, or wish to discuss treatment options, call us today or stop by our Luton offices for an informal chat.
For more information about our costs for anxiety counselling services please see the about us page.