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.
Have I got Anxiety?
Some of the most 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
Sarah Steventon is a specialist in dealing with Anxiety, and is experienced in dealing with clients experiencing Anxiety conditions such as:
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Panic Attacks / Panic Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Post Natal Depression/Anxiety
Compulsive Skin Picking
Social Phobia/Social Anxiety Disorder
If you are suffering with Anxiety, 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
Any 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 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.
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.
I work with a range of techniques to help you feel better as quickly as possible, and avoid the 'black and white thinking' and help you to change your perspective on whatever it is you fear - in effect, neutralise it.
However you are experiencing anxiety, I work with you to master your feelings, conquer your own anxious behaviour, and overcome the anxiety to stop the negative effect it is having on you.
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 another form of anxiety disorder, which might seem strange, but its true.
One of the most debilitating is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 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 OCD, anger issues, depression or trauma - Sarah Steventon is an Anxiety Specialist and can help.
Sarah sees clients on a one to one basis in her Clinic in Warwickshire.
Teenage Anxiety - Exam performance - Exam Nerves - Improve Grades
The anxiety children and teenagers suffer when at school and or college, especially when preparing and taking exams can be overwhelming.
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.
Either way, we’ll know by the end of session one - and then I can formulate the session plan.
Perinatal anxiety and Perinatal OCD
You may have been told you have Perinatal anxiety, which is the term that can be used by medical teams to describe anxiety experienced during pregnancy or in the year after childbirth.
You might hear it called, prenatal or antenatal anxiety if you experience anxiety during pregnancy or postnatal anxiety if you experience it after giving birth.
You might be experiencing tense muscles and headaches, pins and needles, feeling light headed or dizzy, faster breathing, sweating or hot flushes, a fast, thumping or irregular heartbeat, difficulty sleeping, needing the toilet more frequently, or less frequently, churning in the pit of your stomach. All of these symptoms are what we feel when we are suffering with anxiety.
You might also be experiencing panic attacks, A panic attack is an exaggeration of your body’s normal response to fear, stress and can have symptoms such as a pounding heartbeat, feeling faint, sweating, nausea (feeling sick), chest pains, feeling unable to breathe, shaky limbs, or feeling like your legs are turning to jelly, feeling like you’re not connected to your body, fear of losing control, or you are going crazy, or you might be dying.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a term is often misused in daily conversation – for example, you might hear people talk about being 'a bit OCD' if they like things to be neat and tidy, but in reality it is a lot more complex and serious.
Perinatal OCD is when you experience OCD during pregnancy or in the year after giving birth.
OCD has two main parts, the obsessions – intrusive thoughts, ideas or urges that repeatedly appear in your mind. For example, thinking that you have been contaminated by dirt and germs, or worrying that you might hurt someone.
The other part is the compulsions – repetitive activities that you feel you have to do. This might be something like repeatedly washing something to make sure it’s clean, or repeating a specific phrase in your head to prevent harm from coming to a loved one.
The aim of a compulsion is to relieve the intense anxiety caused by obsessive thoughts. However, the process of repeating these compulsions is often distressing in itself.