Anxiety

Although anxiety is a normal human emotion when confronted with difficult or threatening situations, when taken to excess, the experience of anxiety can become a highly disabling and deeply unpleasant illness.

There are a range of features which sufferers from anxiety may have, such as:

  • an inability to switch off and always feeling ‘on edge’
  • feelings of continual worry
  • increased irritability
  • features of social avoidance
  • disrupted sleep patterns
  • disturbed memory and concentration
  • strong, rapid heartbeats – ‘palpitations’
  • pain, tension or tightness in muscles
  • difficulty taking a deep breath or swallowing
  • digestive problems or diarrhoea

Anxiety may be a reaction to external life events, but very often it arises with no precipitants, and can be what is known as ‘free floating’, where it hits the individual at any time – this is often diagnosed as a Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety may also be prevalent in certain situations, such as during social contact, or in places from which rapid escape would be difficult, such as a train or crowded supermarket. Treating anxiety Lastly, anxiety can also arise in sudden, overwhelming bursts, when it is known as panic. These episodes can be so overwhelming and severe that sufferers can feel they are about to die. The treatment for anxiety often consists of both medication, either short or long-term, and specific psychological interventions to better understand the causes of the anxiety, and to devise new ways of thinking, which will minimise the chance of the illness continuing. Contact us to learn more about our treatments for anxiety, or to book an appointment.


 

Case Study

Patricia was a 51-year old mother of three teenage children. She was someone who had always been somewhat ‘highly strung’, but never to the level of it causing any significant difficultes. However, over recent years a build up of adverse events had been making life increasingly difficult; the failing health of her mother, and some problems two of her children were having at secondary school. Patricia described always feeling on edge, unable to relax or to enjoy reading or watching television. Even taking the dog out for a walk felt like an unpleasant experience, as she was worried about who she might bump into, and whether she might have to make polite conversation. Bit by bit, she noticed that she was withdrawing from the world, avoiding contact wherever possible. The whole situation reached a crescendo one day when, during some local driving, her car was held up at road works, and she experienced an overwhelming surge of anxiety in which she felt she was having a heart attack, unable to breathe and about to die. The ambulance was called, and after a series of medical examinations at the local A&E, Patricia was diagnosed as having had a panic attack. She came to see us shortly after, and following a full assessment, was started on an intensive psychological treatment programme, consisting of three days a week of group treatment. Patricia was able to understand the link between her life pressures and the anxiety disorder, and to find ways of keeping the various demands upon her at arm’s length, rather than feeling swamped by them as before. She came to understand how the anxiety was created, and was reassured by the fact that the anxiety could not do her any harm. With her agreement, Patricia was also prescribed a six-month course of non-addictive medication, to help the healing process. Finally, as an added bonus, Patricia developed a circle of supportive and understanding friends from the therapy, with whom she remained in touch after the formal programme finished.

Indicative case study, based on the experiences of several patients.

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