Understanding anxiety

Are you a worrier?

Do you worry too much about life events such as work, health or relationships?

Worry and anxiety can make you feel uneasy and effect your concentration, sleep, memory and confidence. You may be unable to relax or enjoy once enjoyable activities. Excessive worry also leads us to being indecisive and doubt ourselves. People who are worriers tend to run through various different scenarios and often think the worst scenario. People who chronically worry often find that even when they get relief from one issue another one spouts up like a weed.

Learning to tame anxiety can be an amazing relief for the anxious person. Learning to tone down their anxiety to enable them to be in control of it rather than feeling controlled by it is very possible. Reducing anxiety enables people to improve concentration and quiet your mind. Gaining insight regarding the underlying causes and triggers leading to each person’s anxiety are essential for long-term change.

Social Anxiety

Do you worry about interacting with others socially? Do you feel judged or are concerned you will be?

Fears and concerns about being judged often interrupt the flow of communication. The fear that others will notice your anxiety can make it even more awkward and difficult. Anxiety about interacting with others can cause some people to avoid social situations. Others may not avoid social situations, but remain reserved and quiet. This can then be read by others as rude or disinterested. Social anxiety may impact both social and employment settings.

An important element of reducing social anxiety is to become less preoccupied with others perceptions of you. Also teaching you how to be less judgmental or critical of self is also important. Another component is to develop skills to soothe you when interacting with others. A significant amount of social anxiety is also related to the lead up to an event. Techniques to reduce thoughts and concerns about negative social events are also important so they are not feared.

Unpleasant Thoughts/Obsessive Thinking

Do you have thoughts that are unwanted?

Unwanted or intrusive thoughts may be obsessive in nature and are difficult to get out of your head. The thoughts may be about engaging in repetitive acts and unless you complete the task something may seem like it will go wrong. There are times when we know the thoughts are silly but their strength is too strong to shake. The thoughts may lead to excessive anxiety and panic attacks because they conflict with how you see yourself. The thoughts may make you feel like a bad person or feel like you are going crazy or out of control. This type of anxiety is very difficult to manage alone without professional help.

Panic Attacks

Do you have intense anxiety episodes where you feel afraid and overwhelmed?

During these episodes you may have difficulty breathing, experience heart palpitations, hot flashes and sweating. You may even feel like you are going to faint or die. Often people with panic attacks may believe something is medically wrong and end up at the emergency department. Often in the emergency department or a GPs office is the first place people learn about panic attacks and anxiety disorders. After you experience panic episodes you may develop fears about having another attack in the future. The fear of having another often leads people to start a negative cycle of anxiety, rumination and anticipatory anxiety and overthinking many aspects of their lives. Panic attacks can be treated and people learn to tone down their anxiety such that they feel in control.

Understanding physiologically what is happening when feeling anxious is essential to gaining control again. Anxiety can be well managed through both cognitive (thinking) and behavioural (doing) strategies. We will explore the triggers and also be mindful of other underlying reasons for the anxiety. At Clear Health Psychology we are very skilled in helping people understand and control anxiety. We look forward to working with you at Clear Health Psychology.

Written by: Dr Maxine Hawkins