WHAT IS ANXIETY?
The information on this page focuses on Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), but there are many different types of anxiety, including:
Social Anxiety Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) involves chronic worrying, nervousness, and tension. We all experience situations from time to time that make us fearful and apprehensive. These are natural reactions that are important for how we function as human beings. However, for some people, their anxiety can become almost constant, may have no apparent cause, or is disproportionate and excessive to the concern. It can become overwhelming in these cases, and life becomes a constant state of fear, worry, and dread. Eventually, if left untreated, anxiety dominates a persons thinking so much that it can interfere with typical day to day functioning and may lead to avoidance of regular activities. You can find out more about the signs of stress and anxiety here.
The difference between “normal” worrying and generalised anxiety disorder is that the worrying involved is:
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WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY?
Symptoms may vary, but can include:
Excessive, ongoing worry and tension
A sense of dread
Feeling constantly on edge
Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
Feelings of depression
Feeling sick or diarrhoea
Noticeably strong, fast, or irregular heartbeat
Shortness of breath
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES ANXIETY?
Multiple factors are likely involved. However, the exact cause of GAD is not clear. Research suggests that Anxiety may be caused by:
Genetic predisposition to Anxiety – if you have a close relative with GAD, you are five times more likely to develop the condition yourself.
The brain chemicals (serotonin and noradrenaline) involved in the control of mood become unbalanced.
Overactivity in areas of the brain that control emotions and behaviour.
A history of stressful or traumatic experiences, such as domestic violence, child abuse, or bullying.
Long-term health conditions that cause ongoing pain.
Having a history of drug or alcohol misuse.
However, some people may develop Anxiety for no apparent reason.
HOW ARE CHILDREN AFFECTED AND HOW CAN I SUPPORT THEM?
Children can also be affected in much the same way adults are, although it can be harder for them to express their feelings depending on their age.
Here are some ways you can help an anxious child:
Spend time talking to your child about their worries and let them know that you understand how they feel.
Depending on your child’s age, it may help explain what anxiety is and the physical effects on our bodies and that it will come and go.
Help your child to recognise the signs of anxiety themselves and learn methods to manage their anxiety, such as breathing relaxation techniques
Let your child understand that they can seek help when they need it
Try to stick to regular daily routines when possible as this can be reassuring
If there is a considerable change coming, like a house move, prepare your child by talking through what will happen and why
For younger children, distraction can be helpful, so they don’t dwell on the issue that is causing the anxiety
Try not to be overprotective or anxious yourself
HOW COMMON IS ANXIETY?
Generalised anxiety disorder is thought to impact around 5% of the UK population. It affects women more than men.
HOW CAN I MANAGE ANXIETY?
Making a note of the things that make you anxious can make them feel less overwhelming when they are on a piece of paper.
Keep a diary to monitor how anxious you feel daily. This may help you to understand what triggers your Anxiety. Also, keep a note of the good things that happen to remind yourself that things aren’t all bad and positive things still happen even when you are struggling.
Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep. Sleep can provide you with the energy to cope better with difficult experiences.
Exercise regularly to look after your physical and mental wellbeing.
Learn breathing exercises. They can help you feel more in control and can be used to calm you down when you start to feel anxious.
Although self-help tools can be suitable for some people, for others, they are not enough to help a person manage Anxiety. In this case, therapy may be a more appropriate treatment.
TREATMENTS FOR ANXIETY
Several talking therapies are effective as a treatment for anxiety, including:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)
Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)
BENEFITS OF TREATMENT?
Learn coping strategies to deal with Anxiety.
Identify what triggers Anxiety for you; an increased awareness may help you cope better when you start feeling anxious.
Develop an understanding of what caused Anxiety for you.
Discuss how your thoughts influence your actions; this will help you gain an increased awareness of yourself.
WHERE TO GO FOR HELP?
Arrange an appointment with the GP. They will ask about the issues you are facing and direct you to places in the NHS that can help you.
There are also charities out there that can support you. Anxiety UK provides a helpline for advice and support. Local Minds arrange talking therapies and peer support groups.
IF YOU FEEL YOU NEED TO SPEAK TO SOMEONE URGENTLY AND DON’T FEEL SAFE
HOW CAN SELECT PSYCHOLOGY HELP?
Select Psychology offers a wide of therapies to help manage anger and gives you the tools to cope and understand your emotions. We are a private mental health service with highly trained therapists and no waiting lists.
To address anger issues this is how the therapy would work:
Get in touch
You will be heard and understood through a confidential phone conversation. Often called the ‘triage’ this is where you can share more about your needs, and we can advise on therapy pathways and provide initial guidance where possible.
We will match your needs with the best fit practitioner for your therapy pathway and offer you an appointment within two weeks.
Before you begin a course of therapy, your therapist will need to conduct an assessment in order agree a course of therapy with you that will best help you and address your goals. This is still part of the therapeutic process and will provide you with a better understanding of your difficulties and how you may start to approach them.
Following on from your assessment, you will move onto therapy. Appointments are 50 minutes – these can be anything from weekly to monthly, depending on your individual circumstances. The number of sessions required to feel better will depend on your needs and therapy plan, this can range between 8-16 sessions, but in general more time is needed to address more complex issues.
As you start to improve, you can agree on changes to the frequency of sessions as required. Ultimately, there will be a time when both you and your therapist agree that you no longer need to continue in active therapy
What therapy is best for anxiety?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a widely used approach to treat anxiety. Research has shown it is effective at treating Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Phobias and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders (OCD).
Can Psychologists help with anxiety?
Clinical Psychologists are highly specialised and trained to treat anxiety in its various types. They are trained to use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and a variety of other effective treatments for anxiety where a different approach is necessary.
Can you ever be cured of anxiety?
Yes, anxiety can be cured in the sense that the symptoms of anxiety can be alleviated and this can be temporary or last for several years.
How long does therapy take for anxiety?
The length of time can vary on a case by case basis and depending on the frequency of sessions. Typically therapy would take between 6 – 20 sessions taking place weekly or fortnightly, each session lasting around 50 – 60 minutes.
How does Anxiety make you feel?
For many people, it feels like they are constantly on high alert and unable to relax, like your fight or flight response is always turned on. A persistent feeling of panic and dread becomes exhausting after a while and takes a considerable toll on your body, which is why learning to manage and cope with Anxiety is very important.
What is the difference between Anxiety and fear?
They are both interrelated. The main distinction is fear is a response to known, understood threat. Whereas, Anxiety is a response to an unknown or poorly understood threat.