Anxiety is a simplistic blanket term which covers a wide range of problems from the temporary effects of stress to panic attacks, compulsions, phobias or debilitating nervous illness previously known as ‘nervous breakdown’. Common in all these complaints is the overwhelming effect of the body producing too much adrenaline resulting in physical symptoms which affect daily life. The very fear and apprehension of this, which include palpitations and shaking, arouses further production of adrenaline which increases the problems. For some people it is a temporary state which passes when the source of stress subsides, while for others it becomes a long-term condition which affects their lives and those of their loves ones.
It is normal and healthy to feel sad or worried about life and its problems and pressures. But when worry casts a cloud over everyday life you may be suffering from anxiety or depression or a mixture of the two.
A quarter of the population will suffer from anxiety at some time in their lives - even more than those affected by depression. It is the major reason for absence from work. The fear-adrenaline-fear cycle, if unbroken, eventually brings about a state of stress and extreme fatigue.
Symptoms of anxiety:
Anxiety is often divided into three types:
Relationships can be affected as the anxious person withdraws from social contact and the people around. If their behaviour is dominated by the anxiety it can affect their partner, family and colleagues who sense rejection or despair.
Anxiety is often accompanied by intense mental and physical sensations which can convince the sufferer that they cannot cope with work, family life or ordinary social contact. Their withdrawal and increasing pre-occupation with their symptoms increases the effects and isolation. Cold sweats, trembling, tingling and palpitations are common symptoms in both anxiety and depression, which often interact. The physical and mental symptoms create a cycle which is easily triggered causing the sufferer to avoid others.
Anticipating disasters and dwelling on their symptoms can dominate the life of an anxious person and put pressure on friends and relatives who may themselves feel depleted and drained.
Anxiety feeds on fear, like a bully, and needs to be confronted, appropriately and safely, with skills and constructive thinking patterns.
This trigger may be as a result of an external trauma or an internal one.
External traumas can include:
Internal traumas can include deep-seated guilt, shame, conflict or sorrow, and may be deeply buried. Whether these can be safely uncovered or whether that will reactivate anxiety must be considered by a qualified practitioner. It may be more appropriate to deal with the symptoms first.
Once the response is triggered the system produces an inappropriate amount of adrenaline. Rather than allowing the ‘flight’ response that allowed our ancestors to flee from danger this merely alarms the sufferer further – and in turn increases adrenaline production which puts the system on red alert with sleeplessness, a racing heart and restless body.
Anxiety is a problem which feeds on itself and is often covered up and dealt with in isolation. Help should be sought as soon as possible.
For more information on our Anxiety Counselling Services in Birmingham, please contact us.