What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal, but unpleasant, part of life, and it can affect us all in different ways, and at different times. Whereas stress is something that will come and go as the external factor causing it, be it a work, relationship or money problems for example, come and go. Anxiety is something that can persist whether or not the cause is clear to the sufferer.
Anxiety can make a person imagine that things in their life are worse than they really are, and prevent them from confronting their fears. Often they will think they are going mad, or that some psychological imbalance is at the heart of their issue.
What is important is the recognition that Anxiety is normal and exists due to a set of bodily functions that have existed in us from our
caveman days. Back then, we were equipped with an internal alarm system designed to protect us from the dangers surrounding us in the wild. This system would make us hyper-alert by giving us a boost of adrenaline that would increase the heart rate and boost the amount of oxygen going to our limbs so we were better able to fight or run from danger.
This is known as the “fight or flight” response. The “butterflies in the stomach” feeling that many associate with anxiety is this mechanism kicking in, but instead of being used to avoid immediate danger, it is often wrongly and inappropriately activated in a person during normal, everyday situations when stress has built up, often unknowingly.
Some people have a very identifiable cause for their anxiety. It can be caused by a traumatic incident, or someone experiencing a significant life event, like moving house, getting divorced, having surgery. Or just the build up of stress from too much stress going on at one time.
However, some people don’t have an identifiable cause for their anxiety and this causes them some distress. One way of thinking about your anxiety is to imagine your stress levels as being like a bucket of water - If we keep adding stressors to the bucket, even tiny ones like the school run or commuting to work, over time it fills up until one day it overflows.
This can be a good way of looking at anxiety as it explains why sometimes it can seem to come out of the blue with no significant trigger. However, what has happened is that the trigger was just a very small stressor that tipped us over the edge and allowed our bucket to overflow. What we need is a leaky bucket with lots of holes in to reduce your overall stress levels. Each one of these holes could be something positive that you do to manage your anxiety, such as yoga, exercise, reading, listening to music or spending time with friends or family.
Symptoms of anxiety can vary from person to person. People often experience physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms when they feel anxious or stressed.
Am I having a Panic Attack?
Have I got Anxiety?
These are probably two of the questions I get asked the most. Some of the common physical symptoms of anxiety are:
Increased heart rate
Increased muscle tension
Tingling in the hands and feet
Hyperventilation (over breathing)
Difficulty in breathing
Wanting to use the toilet more often
Tight band across the chest area
Some of the most common psychological symptoms (the thoughts or altered perceptions we have) of anxiety are:
Thinking that you may lose control and/or go “mad”
Thinking that you might die
Thinking that you may have a heart attack/be sick/faint/have a brain tumour
Feeling that people are looking at you and observing your anxiety
Feeling as though things are speeding up/slowing down
Feeling detached from your environment and the people in it
Feeling like wanting to run away/escape from the situation
Feeling on edge and alert to everything around you
Unfortunately, once you have one panic attack, it can then produce a run of them, just because of how the brain works, however the good news is Panic Attacks can be sorted out fairly simply.
Sarah is experienced in dealing with clients experiencing panic attacks along with all other Anxiety conditions, such as:
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Post Natal Depression/Anxiety
Phobias of any kind including Agoraphobia, Claustrphobia
Health Anxiety - constantly worrying you have something wrong with you
Social Phobia/Social Anxiety
If you are suffering with Anxiety, or you want to make an appointment to see Sarah at the Clinic please do get in touch using the details on the contact page and we will get back to you within 24 hours.
Anxiety Treatment / Therapy For Anxiety
What can cause Anxiety?
Anxiety problems arise because of chronic levels of stress. Stress is any pressure or accumulation of pressures - physical or psychological, that is too much for a person to cope with comfortably, so it is really what any person perceives as stress for them as an individual, so of course this will vary from person to person.
The right amount of stress can actually be a positive experience, which may sound strange at first, but it can help to push us, challenge us, motivate us, help us to stay focussed and it can even energise us.
However, different amounts of stress affect people differently, and when stress takes it toll, it can affect many different areas of your life. Whether it be relationships, mood, health, productivity or your ability to focus on things, even daily life can seem difficult when we are overly stressed.
Often, it is the situations to which we are committed and have no real control which cause us the most difficulty with anxiety – public speaking, leading team meetings, face to face sales or a big pitch to a client are all typical examples of situations in which we feel trapped and unable to take control.
The physical response of stress is a very normal one, and it is our defence mechanism which is intending to protect us from harm, but often too much stress can tip us over into what we call ‘survival mode’, which in turn can trigger our fight or flight response.
Work deadlines, a difficult boss, being stuck in a traffic jam, or missing one of your children's school events, are all very stressful, but unfortunately the part of our brain which gives the direction to set off the 'fight and flight' response, is not able to distinguish between events like this, and those that really are life threatening.
If you are suffering with anxiety you will know all about the fight or flight response, and if you don’t, you can be sure that you have experienced it first-hand. Some common effects of the fight or flight response are, butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms, shortness of breath, shaking of limbs, palpitations.
People will respond to stress in different ways, and it can manifest itself in different ways too, which can be in the form of an anxiety disorder.
Using the latest cutting edge techniques we can help to neutralise your anxiety so that you start to feel better in an relatively quick timeframe.
Anxiety can manifest itself in many different ways, so you may be suffering with Generalised anxiety Disorder (GAD) - which can have lots of psychological and physical symptoms. Or you maybe having panic attacks and been told you have 'Panic disorder'.
Phobias are actually a form of anxiety, or an anxiety disorder, which might seem strange, but its true. Phobias can actually be dealt with very quickly and effectively with some very clever techniques.
One of the most debilitating forms of Anxiety is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD for short, which can completely take over your life.
At the extreme end, constant high levels of arousal are generated by post-traumatic stress. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be a truly terrifying experience - however this can be resolved, both safely and quickly.
PTSD doesn't just affect people who have served in the military, or worked in the forces - PTSD can be brought on by any trauma that is experienced.
Resolving trauma of any kind, including abuse, whether sexual, physical, or emotional, or a trauma from an accident or an attack can be done just as effectively.
All of these events can be worked on without the need to actually disclose what the events was. The work can be done without the need to go over the event or events again - which means there is no need to talk about the detail. It is an extremely fast, effective way to help clients who are experiencing any kind of psychological distress.
If you are suffering from stress, or feel you maybe experiencing anxiety or having panic attacks, or dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder known as OCD, Anger issues, Depression or Trauma - Sarah Steventon is an Anxiety Specialist. She is a Psychotherapist and a Clinical Hypnotherapist which means she is able to work with you in a unique way to help resolve your issue and fast.
Sarah sees clients on a one-to-one basis at her Specialist Anxiety Clinic in Leamington Spa, Stratford Upon Avon and Knowle in Solihull.
Teenage Anxiety - Exam performance - Exam Nerves
The anxiety children and teenagers suffer when at school and or college, especially when preparing and taking exams can be overwhelming.
I have a specific interest in working with teenagers to help them with exam performance, and the pressure and stress that comes with this.
It is extremely rewarding to hear how well they have performed and the improvement they have seen in their grades.....the exam results speak for themselves.'
Exam nerves are similar to those experienced by people undergoing job interviews, sporting or artistic performances and the like, and as with any kind of pressure, stress and nerves can get in the way of a good performance.
Once a certain level of stress is reached, the fight-or-flight response comes into play, adrenaline and cortisol are released, and this is where the problems start.
This is the body's survival mechanism kicking in - and although a very clever system, which is useful to keep you safe and make sure you react instantly by stopping your logical brain overthinking a situation, which can save your life.....but it also means you don't have access to your logical brain when you need it.....so all the hard work and revision can go out the window!
Sometimes I see a children and teenagers for exam nerves, and that is all they need - but sometimes it becomes clear that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and there are much deeper issues going on.
This can be any number of things, problems at home or bullying for example, or just other issues that are part and parcel of teenage life....
If the anxiety is deep-seated, then more work may be required and I always recommend that we do the work together - otherwise the issues or the anxiety may return and cause problems in other ways.
Teenage anxiety can be anxiety that has been around a long time, often starting with a trauma which can be something such as their parents splitting up.
Either way, we’ll know by the end of session one - and then I can formulate the most effective session plan.
Phobias and Fears
A phobia is an irrational fear of an object or situation that would not normally trouble most people. As the name suggests, simple/specific phobias are phobias that are about specific objects or situations. They can be quite distinct in nature and easily identified. For example, fear of spiders, fear of thunderstorms or fear of heights.
Any phobia may produce a state of panic when the sufferer is confronted with the phobic object/situation. A wide variety of physical symptoms are experienced such as nausea, increased heartbeat and jelly legs. For this reason, many people with simple or specific phobias enter into a pattern of avoidance which can vary enormously in severity from someone who would not want to touch a spider, to someone who cannot even look at a picture of a spider, and therefore has to vet everything they come into contact with. The latter demonstrates just how debilitating even a simple phobia can be.
Some phobias don't have any rational explanation - for example Claustrophobia is the fear of being enclosed in a small space or room and unable to escape. It can be triggered by many situations or stimuli, including lifts crowded to capacity, windowless rooms, hotel rooms with closed doors and sealed windows, small cars and even tight-necked clothing.
It is typically classified as an anxiety disorder, which can result in a panic attack. The onset of claustrophobia is generally caused by an event where you were once in a confined space and the survival part of the brain logs this as threatening, and when a similar circumstance is experienced the brain pattern matches back to what is previously logged as a traumatic event, and this causes the symptom.
So traumatic experiences appear to play a role in some people's claustrophobia as can childhood experiences as well - children left in a room by accident or punished by being placed in a closet seem more at risk, which would indicate that for some people it develops as its own condition.
Similarly, for some, claustophobia develops and acts more like other types of phobias, such as a fear of spiders. There are many that have a fear of small spaces that doesn't appear to have been developed by any traumatic experience, but do seem to show up at a young age. Phobias can also develop by seeing someone else in your life with the same phobia - which means if your parent was ever afraid in a small space, you may be too. Again this is data being stored in the part of your brain, which is essentially a 'pattern recognition data system'.
Not all forms of anxiety have a clear cause, and the cause itself may not always matter. There are those that develop anxiety disorders for no apparent reason, as well as those that develop them through a series of unrelated events.
For example, you can develop something like claustrophobia from what seems like a completely unrelated event. If you had an anxiety attack in a party, and then left the party in an elevator, your mind may associate the anxiety with the elevator even though your anxiousness was caused by a party.
The good news is that the cause does not always matter. There is ample evidence that anxiety, no matter its cause, can be treated with the right therapy.
Listed below are just some of the common phobias, but if you have any kind of phobia that you would like to deal with then get in touch.
Arachnephobia or Arachnophobia- Fear of spiders
Acrophobia- Fear of heights
Aichmophobia- Fear of needles or pointed objects
Aviophobia or Aviatophobia- Fear of flying
Cynophobia- Fear of dogs or rabies
Dentophobia- Fear of dentists
Emetophobia- Fear of vomiting
Entomophobia- Fear of insects
Erythrophobia - Fear of Blushing
Hypnotherapy For Anxiety
Hypnotherapy as most people know, is working with the subconscious.....but just what IS the subconscious and what does hypnotherapy actually do?
The subconscious is really a part of the physical brain. It receives and processes data and doesn’t have any emotional connection to that data. A lot of it is programmable so we can modify its processing instructions. We can usefully call this the pattern recognition matrix.
Why does the subconscious have us doing things we would rather not do?
‘The subconscious’ is just a database of the patterns of everything we have ever experienced, which perceives all input simply as data to be tested. If the data is recognised, this part of the brain initiates a ‘best match’ response before we are consciously aware of it.
Contrary to what is believed, ‘the subconscious’ actually does not always try to keep us safe, but merely reacts to a stimulus or sequence of stimuli with a response that has been employed before under similar circumstances – and because you are not dead (i.e. it led to survival) such response would be ‘tagged’ as valid. This then can become a behaviour pattern.
What we usually consider as subconscious process is actually all to do with the speed of the physical brain. The ‘Pattern Recognition Matrix’ of the physical brain simply recognises input patterns, or creates new patterns if something new is encountered. To the brain, it is nothing more than data and is neither good nor bad. It doesn’t make value judgments at this stage (the ‘input’ stage). It is in the later part of the process, when the patterns are consciously understood, that judgement occurs – and even that is dependent on other learnt patterns.
The problem is that although judgement might not be instigated at this point, motor action and other responses are.
Accessing the pattern, means we can make the changes need give an alternative and more acceptable 'normal' response to the input of data (basically the experience of something) next time round.
Using hypnotherapy for anxiety and panic attacks is an extremely powerful tool. Using hypnosis to change the thought processes that lead to the anxiety and panic.
Hypnotherapy can be utilised to change the response for many different issues and problems - getting rid of old patterns.
Sarah is a fully qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist, so is also able to use Hypnosis to help you with any issue you are experiencing.
The organisation Anxiety UK - states
" Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis for the treatment and alleviation of a variety of physical and psychological symptoms. Hypnosis allows the subject to experience often quite deep levels of relaxation and so helps to reduce levels of stress and anxiety. It is often used alongside classical behavioural therapies such as ‘systematic desensitisation’. Two important elements of this therapy are the ability to clearly imagine something that makes you feel anxious and then to attain a deeply relaxed state. Hypnosis helps to achieve both of these more easily and quickly than many other forms of treatment."
Anxiety can also have its root causes in situations which are challenging socially, such as parties or functions where we are expected to interact with strangers, or where we are expected to perform in front of others. And so we avoid the confrontation with our anxiety by crying off at the last moment or making excuses to leave early.
Often, anxiety can be the physical and emotional manifestation of a trauma earlier in life – something which we may not even consciously recognise as influencing our emotional wellbeing. In some cases, this trauma has had such a significant impact on us that our clever subconscious has buried it out of sight. Trauma of any kind unfortunately can lead to PTSD.
PTSD is a very misunderstood, misdiagnosed and mistreated condition. Psychology overcomplicates the neurology, psychology and psycho-physiology of PTSD.
We commonly associate PTSD with war veterans returning from conflict but PTSD is a manifestation of an anxiety disorder in which a definite 'catalyst' is identifiable.
When PTSD sufferers are provided with a clear explanation of the science, it immediately makes sense to them.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/PTSD - Is the name given for a diagnosed Anxiety based condition when a person has undergone an extreme traumatic event or number of events. This has become synonymous as a war specific condition however also widely diagnosed for as result of severe accidents and terrorist incidents. Its symptoms include frequent vivid stressful, frightening memories and flashbacks in re-living the event, insomnia, emotional instability and survivor guilt to name a few. It invariably has a substantial affect on a persons ability to function normally.
We are able to deal with the extreme emotions that drive the memories and flashback, we can't change history, but we can most certainly assist the sufferer in removing the heighten responses, so that life returns to a more normal functioning one for the Client.
PTSD is only unique amongst the disorders in that there is an identifiable catalyst.
Psychology focuses on identification of the catalyst and utilises therapies which address the catalyst repeatedly in a treatment session structure. Sufferers find that temporary reassurance can be gained from discussion but CBT 'talking therapy' style therapeutic devices can and will only serve to perpetuate the condition and the memory of the initial catalyst.
Many clients come to me after having had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), or other types of therapy without success. Some tell me that they found it was helpful for a short while, however their symptoms returned.
Unwanted behaviours or self-limiting beliefs originate in the non-conscious part of the brain – and that’s where we need to target therapy, not just by talking to the conscious mind.
The types of therapy I use, such as BWRT is different because it works with the non-conscious brain and is consistent with current developments in neuroscience.
Utilising these specialist techniques, created to specifically achieve fast recovery means the client sees outstanding results in a very short space of time.
Do you ever get so angry that you want to lash out, shout or throw something? Does your partner enrage you so often that you find yourself screaming at them? Maybe you are finding yourself frequently wanting to hurt your child or a pet because they irritate you all of the time?
We have all experienced the heated surge of anger, and while being angry from time to time is an integral part of our evolutionary make up (it can help us detect and respond to threatening situations or motivate us to change aspects of our lives we are not happy with), constant, uncontrollable anger can be an incredibly destructive and dangerous emotion.
Anger and high adrenaline trigger physiological reactions such as raised heartbeat, higher temperature and palpitations. This level and intensity of emotion over a prolonged period of time can lead to serious physiological and psychological health problems including depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and lower-functioning immune system to name just a few.
Repeated angry outbursts can also have a devastating impact on our relationships, both professionally and personally, causing us even more misery and even putting us and those close to us in danger.
If your anger is causing distress to you and those around you, then getting help is essential before it does any irreparable damage. BWRT therapy that Sarah offers is fast becoming the 'go to' therapy for anger helping to change your response gives an immediate result.