Anxiety is used to describe feelings of worry, fear and unease.
Typically, it incorporates both the emotional and physical sensations we experience when worried or nervous.
Anxiety is related to the ‘fight or flight’ response and, while unpleasant, this is a normal reaction when our body perceives a threat.
Anxiety can make you imagine things are worse than they are and prevent you from carrying out everyday tasks or even leaving the house. Whereas stress is something that will come and go, anxiety can affect a person even if the cause is unclear.
When under stress, our ‘fight or flight’ response will turn on. This acts as an internal alarm system, designed to protect us from danger in the wild. These days, we can recognise this system through the ‘butterflies in the stomach’ we feel when we’re nervous. Anxiety, however, may cause this response to be activated at inappropriate moments. You may feel this during normal, non-threatening situations.
Anxiety will affect individuals differently, however, there are common symptoms listed below.
- rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
- fast breathing
- trouble sleeping
- feeling irritable
- lack of concentration
- panic attacks
When is the right time to seek help?
Anxiety is a problem that can get worse if the stressors continue to build up. People may feel ashamed to ask for help or believe that it’s not ‘that big a problem’, thus covering their feelings and dealing with it alone. It’s important to know that you deserve support and, as lonely as you feel, people care.
Counselling for anxiety is one form of treatment. Talking to a counsellor can help in many ways, including helping you understand what may be causing your anxiety, and teaching you coping techniques. There are many types of talking therapies available, though the most commonly prescribed is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Cognitive behavioural therapy aims to help you manage problems by enabling you to recognise how your thoughts affect both your feeling and behaviour. CBT combines two approaches; examining your thoughts and the way you behave. This helps to break any overwhelming problems down into smaller, more manageable tasks.