Sarah SteventonAnxiety and Stress Specialist
Solihull, Leamington Spa, Stratford-upon-Avon

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People often experience physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms when they feel anxious or stressed. Hear directly from a client how this therapy can help.

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.

Some of the most common anxiety is health anxiety. This can be exhausting, and very distressing as someone consistently feels that there is something wrong with them. They can worry that a headache is a brain tumour and any pain they have means that there is something seriously wrong with them.

Sarah Steventon is one of the very few Psychotherapist in the UK who is also a member of the British Brain Brain Working Research Society (BBRS), which is the registering and accrediting body in existence solely for the newer style of fast acting therapies based on neuroscience, and specialises in treating Anxiety.

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
“Jelly legs”
Tingling in the hands and feet
Hyperventilation (over breathing)
Difficulty in breathing
Wanting to use the toilet more often
Feeling sick
Tight band across the chest area
Tension headaches
Hot flushes
Increased perspiration
Dry mouth
Choking sensations

You may on occasion experience a panic attack - which can feel like any of the following:

Thinking that you may lose control and/or go “mad”
Thinking that you might die
Thinking that you may have a heart attack
Feel sick and like you might faint
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)
Panic Attacks
Panic Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Post Natal Depression/Anxiety
Phobias of any kind including Agoraphobia, Claustrphobia, Fear of Flying, Fear of public speaking
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 BWRT Therapist, and has a wealth of experience 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.

Anxiety Specialist. quality

Teenage Anxiety - Exam performance - Exam Nerves

Teenage anxiety is unfortunately now an extremely common place.

The stress that children and teenagers suffer when at school 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 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.

The start of teenage anxiety, can be triggered by a number of problems. Bullying is something that happens to so many young people, especially from social media.

Bullying is something that creates huge amounts of stress. Whether they are threatened, cyberbullied, or experience name-calling, these types of bullying have a lasting impact, and prolonged exposure can lead to anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and in some instances create eating disorders, self harming, and eventually turning into depression.

Teenage anxiety, or anxiety in children, can also often start with a trauma which can be something such as their parents splitting up. Even if the situation has been handled carefully by the parents, and they have done a brilliant job or making sure the children still feel loved, and safe, the brain can sometimes unfortunately pick up on the situation as a threat to them, and their circumstances. It can also often not start immediately, and therefore the connection isn't made to what caused the anxiety.

In nearly all circumstances, by the end of session one we will be able to fully understand what is going on, and formulate the most effective session plan, which can deal with any previous trauma, and stop the bad feelings.

Using the latest psychotherapy technique BWRT, which uses the latest thinking on neuroscience techniques to retrain the brain, involving a “powerful” method to stop a reaction to things that trigger the issue - the client choosing a preferred feeling to replace the ‘bad’ feeling.

It is easy to use, and doesn't require the person to re-live or go over any details - they can simply just decide how they want to feel in any situation. Children and teenagers love the method as it is so simple and quite fun to do.

Phobias and Fears

A specific phobia is a type of anxiety disorder defined as an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. ... Although people with specific phobias realise their fear is irrational, the thought of these fear alone is often enough to cause tremendous, debilitating anxiety.

BWRT or Brain Working Recursive Therapy, which Sarah uses, works on the hind brain, the part of the brain that controls the fight or flight response we experience when exposed to danger.

This part of the brain controls systems that don’t require conscious thought such as breathing, perspiration, heart rate and liver and kidney function as well as the hormone system.

When the area of the brain recognises a pattern such as a fear or phobia it automatically prompts the release of hormones such as adrenaline when the trigger is encountered.

A BWRT therapist works with their clients to create an artificial freeze response which a really interesting technique. This stops the fear response in its tracks, by repeating the freezing action.

Clients are then able to replace their past response with a different emotion, one that obviously is the opposite to how the thing they are scared of makes them feel.

For some phobias one session is all you need.

It’s extremely popular with clients because their is no need to have to expose themselves to the subject of their fear as they do in other psychological therapies.

BWRT works because the hind brain doesn’t differentiate between reality and imagination, so its reaction can be reprogrammed.

Around 200 therapists are trained in the technique in the UK, and it is fast becoming the leading therapy for phobias because it is so effective.

It can be used for various sources of anxiety including a fear of medical and dental procedures, or stress reactions from past traumas.

The advantages are that it doesn’t require a lengthy course of treatment like some psychological therapies, so it is extremely cost effective.

Read about BWRT and how quickly it works on a phobia is in this article in Top Sante

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