Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, fear and panic. This cocktail of emotions can keep us on edge and remain in the background or appear suddenly causing an ‘anxiety or panic attack’.
Anxiety is similar to feeling stressed. Both conditions are attributed to our ‘fight or flight’ response. This response is an internal alarm system that was designed to protect us from danger in the wild. It causes the body to release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol causing our heart rate and blood pressure to rise and giving us a feeling of nervousness however; in our modern world this system is frequently inappropriately activated causing us problems.
Anxiety can cause a mixture of both physical and psychological symptoms. There are a spectrum of conditions that stem from anxiety from milder conditions such as Worry to more severe Panic Attacks and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
Anxiety can come in the form of Phobias. This is where a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object. If a phobia becomes very severe, a person may organise their life around avoiding their phobia. As well as restricting their day-to-day life, it can cause a lot of distress. Therapy can help with this and help you discover ways to overcome your phobia.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is also a form of anxiety disorder. This is where a person has unwanted, intrusive and often distressing thoughts, images or urges that enter a persons mind as obsessions. These obsessions provoke anxiety and then repetitive behaviours or mental acts are performed (compulsions) that provide temporary relief of the anxiety, but this soon returns causing the cycle to start again. Therapy is a very good treatment for this disorder, allowing a person to understand and work out processes to overcome unwanted thoughts and emotions as well as finding ways to prevent the compulsions.
Taking time to consciously slow down your thoughts and breathing can help calm you down. Mindfulness techniques can help teach you how to manage your symptoms of anxiety.
Recording your feelings and what happens when you feel anxious can help you discover what triggers your symptoms.
Stimulants like coffee, excessive alcohol intake and cigarettes can make it difficult for you to relax. Exercise can help release stress and eating healthily improves your overall well being.
There are a range of therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) that can help you understand the potential causes of your anxiety and develop ways to manage it.
A GP or in more severe cases a Psychiatrist will be able to explore a number of possible treatments such as prescription medication and referral for therapy treatment.