Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam or having a medical test or job interview.
Feeling anxious is sometimes perfectly normal. However, some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and often affect their daily life.
What type of anxiety disorders are there?
There are several types of anxiety and panic disorders, because people respond to anxiety and panic attacks in different ways. Some of the more common disorders are outlined below.
Counselling and EMDR Therapy
Many people come to therapy because they have tried to control their anxiety reactions but can’t seem to do it themselves. I take a good history of your life, what strengths you have, what distressing or traumatic events you have gone through, and we work together to help you regain control, order and normal predictability in your life. Usually people begin to understand that the thing they are anxious about it usually the last straw in years of worry, fear and uncertainty. By voicing these worries and fears or sharing a terrifying experience with someone who will really listen to them and help them work through the layers of fear, shame, guilt people find themselves set free to live the life they want to live.
Below is a listing of Anxiety Disorders. Many people steel themself up for years coping alone or making their family cope with unhealthy behaviour rather than get help and live more peacefully.
‘Life is Difficult’ wrote Scott Peck in the Road Less Traveled opening line. Children, Partners, Relatives, Friends and Colleagues all interrelate with us better if we are calm and peaceful. For yoursake and theirs, get help for your anxiety issues. Concern for your life is good and healthy, anxiety is unhealthy for you and others and wastes energy, yours and others.
You may be diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder if you have felt anxious for a long time and often feel fearful, but are not anxious about anything in particular. The strength of symptoms can vary.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour are typical for this disorder. You may have obsessive thoughts about being contaminated with germs or fear that you have forgotten to lock the door or turn off the oven. You may feel compelled to wash your hands, do things in a particular order or keep repeating what you are doing a certain number of times. Some OCD’s are around people thinking they are child abusers or that they fancy children when they clearly don’t. Others have religious beliefs that they are bad, guilty, sinners, etc and can never rectify this with God. THese are clearly distressing thoughts for people and take a lot of energy from them to cope with daily life.
Phobia is about irrational fear. If you have a phobia, your anxiety will be triggered by very specific situations or objects; such as spiders, heights, flying or crowded places, even when there is no danger to you. For example, you may know a spider isn’t poisonous or won’t bite you, but this still doesn’t reduce your anxiety. Likewise, you may know that it is safe to be out on a balcony in a high-rise block, yet, feel terrified to go out on it or even enjoy the view from behind the windows inside the building.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
If you have experienced or witnessed a very stressful or threatening event, e.g. war, serious accident, sudden or violent death, rape, you may later develop post-traumatic stress disorder. You are likely to experience flashbacks and have dreams about the event, and these are likely to trigger strong anxiety and feelings you experienced during the actual event.
Panic attacks may sometimes occur for no reason, and you may not be able to understand why. You may feel as if your mind has gone totally out of control . When you experience panic attacks that seem completely unpredictable and you can’t identify what has triggered them, you may experience panic disorder. Because the onset of panic seems unpredictable, you may live in fear of having another panic attack. This fear can become so intense it can trigger another panic attack.
How can I learn to manage my anxiety myself?
There are many things you can do to reduce your anxiety to a more manageable level. Taking action may make you feel more anxious at first. Even thinking about anxiety can make it worse. Therefore, a common – and natural – response to anxiety is to avoid what triggers your fear. For example, if you are afraid of spiders, running away every time you see one, is likely to increase your fear. Avoiding an exam because you feel anxious is likely to make you feel worse. Therefore facing up to anxiety, and how it makes you feel, can be the first step in breaking the cycle of fear and insecurity.
At the onset of panic, I keep telling myself that I have been here before and that I get through it again. It will pass if I try to keep as calm as I can.
Controlling the symptoms
You may find that your symptoms can be controlled by breathing and relaxation techniques. Books and CDs on the topic are available both online and from bookstores to help you with this – also see Mind’s booklet How to manage stress for some exercises. Several self-help programmes on relaxation are available online, or you could attend a relaxation class. In some areas there are also classes in anxiety management.
Being assertive means you can stand up for yourself while also respecting other people and their opinions.
Learning how to handle difficult situations and to assert yourself can make you feel more confident and, therefore, more relaxed. Some people find that learning self-defence makes them feel safer. To find out about local classes, ask at your library or look on the internet.
I have found that activities that involve ‘putting myself out there’ – e.g. dance classes that involve having to perform on stage for an end of year show or exam – very helpful in developing confidence and assertiveness, especially as they make you stand up straight and ‘walk tall’ rather than ‘hide’.
Exercise uses up the adrenalin and other hormones that are produced under stress, allowing muscles to relax. It can therefore help you to cope with anxiety and feelings of tension, and may help you sleep better. Walking and swimming allow you to be active at your own pace and you can do them alone or in company.
Eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of sleep can also make a big difference to your ability to cope with stress (see How to manage stress). You may find it easier to relax if you avoid stimulants such as coffee, cigarettes and alcohol.
Some simple things to add to your day are: Make time to eat 3 meals a day at regular times, take your lunch break, get regular exercise 5 x 30 minutes at one go over the week, plan regular holidays through out the year, have your young children take 30 minutes to 1 hour rests each day and put your feet up, read a book or nap. Meet with friends to talk and laugh, notice the beauty of nature and architecture around you, appreciate the good things that happen to you and others each day, enjoy comedy shows and radio programmes, art, music and the people around you.
Square breathing is helpful to regulate your breating and calm your mind down again so that it can think properly.
Talking to a friend or family member about what’s making you anxious can help. You may find that they have encountered a similar problem and can talk you through it; however, just having had someone listen to you and showing that they care, can help in itself.