Anxiety is something that most of us experience at some time in our lives. We all recognise the butterfly feeling in the pit of the stomach that indicates anxiety. As children we may have felt anxious about the start of a new school year, changing groups, not being picked for a team and/or sitting an exam or test. As adults these feelings may re-visit us if we are meeting new people, starting a new job or giving a speech. We can feel anxious when we hit a huge life event or are concerned about money problems or employment prospects.
Chronic anxiety is now a recognisable illness: in fact between 10 - 30% of the UK population is likely to suffer anxiety disorder at any one time: the writer Franz Kafka was a sufferer. £80 million pounds is lost annually to the UK economy with individuals who need time off because of chronic anxiety. However anxiety, although more prevalent today perhaps, is not a new phenomenon: Freud wrote about it ninety years ago in his text, “The Problem of Anxiety” and Spinoza wrote, “Dread” in which he examined our enslavement to fainting and hysteria, in the seventeenth century.
Anxiety can manifest itself physically and well as psychologically: physical symptoms such as, nausea, stomach aches, headaches and insomnia can be present. Anxiety and Depression work in co-morbidity - that is, they are often found together in the sufferer. Some people attempt coping strategies to alleviate the psychological distress caused by anxiety and depression through use of alcohol, drugs, self-harm or develop OCD habits. Often these are self-defeating as they bring their own concerns, feelings of guilt and being trapped in a cycle of undermining behaviour.Anxiety often leads to circular thinking - that is, thinking the same thing in the same way over and over. There is, in many cases of Anxiety Disorder, a movement towards catastrophizing, with suffer believing that the worst will happen whatever the indicators may be.
For the lucky ones these are transitory feelings that go away when the event is over or when the worry is sorted. However, some people live in a perpetual state of anxiety, unable to enjoy life or move forward with a sense a wellbeing, due to overwhelming feelings of anxiety, panic and fear. In this instance counselling becomes a useful forum to work on anxiety disorder and to talk through experiences from which anxieties originate. Clients often say that they arwever, behaviours and responses can be learned and if they are learned then they can be unlearned. Help is out there. Don’t be afraid to ask.