Anxiety Disorders are is one of the most common Mental Health Conditions in the UK. Typically, if you have an anxiety disorder you will be living with excessive fear, dread and worry. However, the symptoms of anxiety differ from person to person. Living with excessive fears is not easy, and in cases it can be completely debilitating. It is not unusual for a person with anxiety to isolate themselves as they will try to avoid situations that make them anxious. There are many types of Anxiety Disorders including Social Anxiety Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Phobias and Panic Attacks.
It is necessary for us to be fearful and anxious from time to time, as this feeling alerts us to danger. When confronted with a situation that we perceive to be dangerous, the hormones cortisol and adrenaline pump through our body, sending a message to the brain that it needs to take action quickly in order to keep us safe. Subsequently, we experience a sudden rush of emotional responses, often referred to as the fight or flight response. These hormones give us the burst of energy to deal with the situation, this can cause physical responses such as an increased heart rate, sweating and shaking. These physical responses differ from person to person.
When experiencing an Anxiety Disorder you will have the same feelings of fear and the accompanied physical responses, when you are not in real danger. These mental and physical responses can be extremely distressing, especially when they are misplaced.
It’s common for people who have experienced a long-term Anxiety Disorder to believe “this is the way I am”, however this is not the case. Babies are born with only two fears, the fear of being dropped and the fear of loud noises. We are not born anxious, it is a result of life experiences, help to overcome this is available. For many, talking therapy can be extremely helpful, this can be combined with other modalities such as CBT, Gestalt Therapy, hypnosis and a range of self-help techniques.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
GAD causes both psychological and physical symptoms which vary from person to person. Typically, you will feel uncontrollably nervous and worried. Concentration and sleep may be impacted. You may have irrational thoughts, and experience symptoms such as increased heart-rate, sweating and shaking.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder is a long-term fear of social situations. It presents by a persistent and intense fear of being watched, and judged by others, and of being embarrassed or humiliated in public. Much time is spent worrying about the thoughts and opinions of others.
What Are the Different Types of Anxiety Disorders?
Panic disorder is a sever feeling of fear and panic which can occur regularly, and for no apparent reason. This results in intense feelings that reach their peak within a few minutes. This can be an extremely frightening experience.
A phobia is an intense and irrational fear of an animal, object, place or situation. Phobias are more intense than fears, they can cause psychological and physical reactions that are debilitating and overwhelming. A phobia can result in a person avoiding certain situations.
Why Am I Feeling Anxious?
Lets look at the Subconscious Mind....
Anxiety Disorders can be Managed with Therapy
The subconscious mind is a huge memory bank that stores absolutely everything, even when we are asleep our subconscious mind is hard at work. It stores everything that you have seen, done or thought. A massive ninety percent of all information we take in is stored in our subconscious mind, the remaining ten percent is stored in our conscious mind. It stores your beliefs, memories, skills and previous experiences. The subconscious mind kicks in quicker that the conscious mind, it senses when we are in perceived danger and communicates this information to this conscious mind. The subconscious mind is often referred to as the ‘Monkey Mind’.
The Buddha used the analogy of the ‘Monkey Mind’ as the subconscious mind is like a monkey swinging from tree to tree. The similarity being the subconscious mind quickly swings from one thought to another, constantly chattering away in our mind. These thoughts provide all kinds of emotions such as worry, stress, fear and happiness.
However, the problem with this complex system is the subconscious mind functions so quickly, so the emotions sent to the conscious mind are formed by past experiences. This works well much of the time, but it can also lead to many of our thoughts being distorted. If we have had negative past experiences, a belief system is created based on this negative experience. For example; as a child we may have witnessed an adult scream when they seen a spider. Even witnessing this fear from another person is enough for a message to be sent to our mind that spiders are scary. This incident could have led to a life-long fear of spiders. Your conscious mind knows they are harmless but before you can process this thought, the subconscious mind has already kicked in and you are filled with terror.
In therapy we can change any outdated beliefs that are no longer serving us by working with the sub-conscious mind. When we change negative or distorted thoughts and beliefs, we can learn to manage the symptoms of anxiety disorders. This can be achieved in therapy by using modalities such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), and Hypnosis.