Anxiety is an extremely common yet often debilitating human experience. It originates from the normal human survival response many people know as “fight or flight” - so if a tiger were to enter the room right now you would feel it - the rush of blood to the legs and arms, the heart racing, the breathing speeding up - all very useful physiological occurrences which ready us to run or fight off the predator. Things like appetite and high level analytical thinking go out the window - they’re just not needed when it comes to immediate survival. The problem is this response can be switched on when there’s no tiger or other life threatening issue - when we are thinking about going to school or a barbecue or facing a job interview. It’s normal to experience some of those symptoms in response to a stressful event, but when anxiety means you opt out of events that used to make life meaningful, becomes a daily ongoing experience or happens in the absence of a defined stressor, it can be frustrating, uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating.
Anxiety has a number of different causes including genetics, personality (perfectionistic, shy/reserved, high need for control), current stressors such as work stress or job change, pregnancy and giving birth, family and relationship problems, stressful or traumatic events, verbal, sexual, physical or emotional abuse or trauma, death or loss of a loved one.
There are a range of treatments for anxiety and the treatment choice will depend on the duration and severity of the symptoms and on the therapist's assessment of the causes. There are extremely effective and evidence-based strategies from Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) which therapists teach early in treatment such as breathing and relaxation techniques, mindfulness, grounding and centering, challenging negative and fear producing thoughts. Exposure therapy (ERP) is a behaviour therapy involving setting a number of anxiety provoking challenges to increase the level of anxiety induced and facing each challenge while supported by the therapist to use skills.
Where it appears that anxiety is a long term issue or there are underlying causes, our BayWellbeing therapists will suggest psychotherapy to allow further progress and longer term relief.