Fear, which is present in worry and anxiety, is an incredibly powerful emotion and for a good reason. If we felt no fear at all, we would not be able to steer clear of danger. And so fear is a useful emotion which keeps are safe if the fear is proportionate to the situation. For example, it would be natural for you to feel nervous or anxious just before a parachute jump and it would be your mind and body reminding you that you have not been designed to fly! That in turn would be likely to prompt you to check that you are following all the safety procedures and that you have the best chance of landing safely. All very useful.
However, sometimes worry and anxiety can feel quite overwhelming and do not seem to be in proportion to the situation but the good news is that there are good psychological treatments available.
The following are examples of how you may experience anxiety:
Panic Attacks or Panic Disorder:
A panic attack is an extreme fear reaction, seemingly without a logical reason, and it has very strong physical manifestations. You may experience a racing heart, feeling out of breath, sweating and nausea, all of which are due to your body experiencing an adrenaline rush. Because these physical symptoms are very strong, it is natural to at first believe that there is something seriously wrong with us. Many people feel like they are about to pass out or even die. If a medical investigation rules out physical causes, the medical practitioner often concludes the experience is in fact a panic attack.
Panic attacks can progress to Panic Disorder when the fear of a panic attack is so strong that we begin to avoid any situations or activities which we feel are in some way connected with panic attacks.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder
You may have always felt you are one of life’s biggest worriers and you may experience worry as almost your “default position”. You can actually hold strong beliefs about how useful it is to worry as you are “prepared for all eventualities”.
You may worry about your health and spend hours checking out symptoms, imagining the worst case scenario and looking for reassurance from your GP, which often only works for a while.
You may dread social situations and imagine that everyone will judge you harshly and find you boring or stupid. If that’s the case, you would probably try and avoid social situations and, if you found yourself with other people, you may be very sensitive to any signs of your worst fears coming true.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Like many people, you may experience thoughts that you find deeply upsetting or shocking and at odds with who you think you are. If that’s the case, you may try and “make it better” by certain actions (like washing or doing things in certain order) or mental acts (for example praying or repeating certain words or phrases in your head).
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
You may have experienced or witnessed traumatic events in the past and be affected by them now. Even though you logically know you are safe now, it simply does not feel that way.
All of the above examples are descriptions of anxiety- based disorders and they are very treatable. Talk to Ania about what kind of treatment would best meet your needs.