General information about anxiety

Anxiety is a human state that involves thoughts, emotions and body sensations. 

When we are anxious our heart rate is faster than usual and our senses are alert because it is a natural reaction to real or perceived risk. Anxiety exists to prepare us for difficult situations and we can think about it as raw energy that is available for use (more on this on my article "Can we really get rid of anxiety?"). 

Depending on the situation, anxiety can transform into

  • Worry
  • Fear
  • Excitement
  • Anger

If we don't know what the anxiety is about, it remains as a state of alert that is difficult to manage.

Thoughts

When we are anxious our thoughts are fast and we predict the worst case scenario. Our brain gives more weight to negative scenarios rather than to positive ones, and we call this "negativity bias". We inherited this negativity bias from our ancestors, who survived thanks to it.

Anxiety feeds these ways of thinking

  1. All or nothing thinking
  2. Catastrophic thinking
  3. Thinking it is all our fault
  4. Thinking we are not going to make it

Body Sensations

There are many anxiety symptoms that affect our body. Here are a few:

  1. Fast heart-beat
  2. Sweating
  3. Muscle tension
  4. Waking up early
  5. Bad quality of sleep 

Common mental health disorders related to anxiety

About 20% of people in the UK suffer from anxiety disorders (source: Mind.org). Here are some of the most common anxiety-related disorders:

  • GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder)
  • Panic Attacks
  • PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
  • Body image dissatisfaction
  • Social Anxiety/Phobia

 

Getting help with anxiety

At present, these are the options available to get help with anxiety

  • Go to a GP to check if there is any physical condition causing anxiety;
  • Go for therapy (either through the NHS, or contacting a therapist privately);
  • Get prescribed medications by a GP or a psychiatrist;
  • Use self-help tools like meditation, physical exercise, breathing, etc. 

Anxiety does not go away by itself and the good news is that, with the help of a therapist that you trust, you can find some symptom relief within the first 3 or 4 sessions.

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