Are you somebody who lives with anxiety? Does anxiety effect your day to day life?
What is Anxiety
The majority of people suffer with anxiety to a degree, some more than others. Most of us would recognise feelings of tension, uncertainty, worry or fear. If you experience these symptoms at higher levels for a sustained period of time you will be of great discomfort, this will affect the day to day running of your life. Anxiety can be triggered by many different things; this all depends on what makes the person feel anxious or nervous. For some it may be going out in public or even talking on the phone, this may seem easy to me or you but for those who struggle with anxiety it can be a big problem.
I personally feel most anxious when I am at a great height as it is one of my fears, I start to feel nervous, my legs go to jelly and my palms start to sweat. Some people may class anxiety as a disability, although you may not physically see it all of the time it is there. Anxiety can be present both continuously or triggered by a certain situation i.e. having to speak in a group. When anxiety is at a high point, those suffering may experience panic attacks, this is caused by an overwhelming feeling they may have from a specific situation, this all depends on the level of anxiety a person suffers with.
Anxiety can become so overwhelming that it can take over a person’s life. Common symptoms for anxiety can be both mental and physical they include;
- A sense of dread
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Persistent irritability/worry
- Heart Palpitations
- Heavy & Rapid Breathing
- Tensions / Pain
- Sickness & Diarrhoea
- Stomach Pains
- Panic Attacks
A panic attack is an exaggeration of the human body’s natural reaction to fear stress or even excitement in some cases. It is caused by a rapid build-up of overwhelming sensations which include;
- A Pounding Heart
- Feeling Faint
- Shaking Limbs
- Chest Pains
- Breathing Discomfort
- Feeling a loss of control
It has been known that some sufferers will withdraw from contact with other people and/or develop phobias, obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviour.
Who Does It Effect?
An anxiety disorder is most likely to have an effect on people who have a family history of mental diseases, as these people may have a chemical imbalance within their bodies due to multiple sources of stress that is prolonged. The multiple sources of stress can come from relationship problems, financial complications, or the death of a loved one. Anxiety can also have its effect on people surrounded by someone with a mental illness. It can be very difficult for the family, the children or significant other/partner to help their loved one cope with their anxiety disorder. People with anxiety disorders commonly are worried and cannot be convinced that everything will be alright.
In any one year it is estimated that a staggering one in four of the British population will experience a mental health problem. Of these, mixed anxiety and depression are the most common mental health disorders experienced in UK. Anxiety, as defined earlier affects around 16% of the population at any one time.
4.7% of the population have anxiety problems. As many as 9.7% of the population suffer with mixed depression and anxiety making it the most prevalent mental-health problem in the population as a whole. The stats do not lie but many still over look anxiety and believe it is not a ‘real mental-health problem,’ they are far from right.
In an undercover report ran by ‘Mental Healthy’ it was found that a staggering 67% of the British population stated that money worries cause them anxiety. 34% of the UK population agreed that they would use alcohol for this purpose. Once broken down it showed that 37% of men and 30% of women admitted they are likely to turn to alcohol to cope with their anxiety.
It was also found that 48% of people suffering with anxiety will use Google instead of going to their GP.
Examples of People with Anxiety
“After six years of living beneath an anxious cloud with occasional heavy showers in the form of panic attacks, my body finally gave up and told me I need to stop. I tried to carry on in my previous job, believing I needed to ‘be stronger’ and learn to cope and toughen up, which pushed my anxiety so far it was like my body just collapsed beneath me.” – (Lucy) Understanding Anxiety: broken leg vs broken mind.
“Anxiety can be a lifelong battle between irrational and rational thoughts that can dominate your life” – Katie Hodgkins.
“Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.” ― Anaïs Nin
How Can it be Treated?
There are many different ways in which anxiety can be treated/controlled. Some might suite you better than others. Firstly, you can go and see your GP, they may suggest trying an individual self-help course for a month or two to see if it will help you to learn to cope with your anxiety. Usually this involves working from a book or computer with contact from your doctor occasionally. Alternatively, you may prefer to go onto a group course where you and people with similar problems meet with a therapist each week to help try and tackle your anxiety.
There are also different psychological treatments available to you. This is usually offered to you before medication. Types of psychological help include;
Creative Arts Therapies ( drama, art, movement, music therapy or psychodrama)
Dramatherapy is a form of psychological therapy/psychotherapy in which all of the performance arts are utilised within the therapeutic relationship. Dramatherapy addresses a wide range of personal and emotional difficulties. Clients who are referred to a dramatherapist do not need to have previous experience or skill in acting, theatre or drama. Dramatherapists are trained to enable clients to find the most suitable medium for them to engage in group or individual therapy to address and resolve, or make troubling issues more bearable.Dramatherapists work in a wide variety of settings with people of all ages:
- in schools
- in mental health
- in general health and social care settings
- in prisons
- in hospices
- in the voluntary sector
- in private practice
Dramatherapists are both artists and clinicians and draw on their trainings in theatre, drama and therapy to create methods to engage clients in effecting psychological, emotional and social changes. The therapy gives equal validity to body and mind within the dramatic context; stories, myths, play-texts, puppetry, masks and improvisation are examples of the range of artistic interventions a dramatherapist may employ. These will enable the client to explore difficult and painful life experiences through a creative-expressive approach. Dramatherapists are vtrained in both psychological and arts-specific assessment and evaluation techniques. They are committed to generating practice-based evidence and deliver sound evidence-based practice.
The British Association of Dramatherapists (BADth)
Mindfulness and Applied Relaxation:
Mindfulness and applied relaxation are alternative types of psychological treatment that can be as effective as CBT and complement creative arts therapies in treating Anxiety. Mindfulness works by focusing your awareness on the present moment and by acknowledging and accepting certain feelings. Being mindful can reduce anxiety caused by the fear of actual situations or sensations, or anticipated ones. It helps to counter the sense of “tunnel vision” that may develop during anxiety. Applied relaxation focuses on relaxing your muscles in a particular way during situations that usually cause anxiety. The technique needs to be taught by a trained therapist, but generally involves:
- learning how to relax your muscles
- learning how to relax your muscles quickly and in response to a trigger, such as the word “relax”
- practising relaxing your muscles in situations that make you anxious
The AOC are trained to deliver mindfulness and relaxation sessions, workshops and courses for individuals, couples, families and groups and offer eighteen stunning relaxation CD recordings which you can purchase and download from our shop: https://www.theaoc.org.uk/shop/
Applied relaxation therapy will usually mean meeting with a therapist for a one-hour session every week for three to four months.
If the psychological treatments do not work or you chose not to try them, you will then usually be offered medication. There are a variety of different medications your GP can prescribe you with. Some are designed to deal with anxiety in the short-term where as others more long term based.
If you are looking to use medication to help with your anxiety you should always ask your GP about side effects and the length of treatment. Regular appointments with your GP are also helpful so they can keep a check on your progress.
Medication that may be offered to you can range from the following;
If you have no progression with any of the medications above, you may then be referred to a specialist. This will mean that you have significant symptoms of anxiety, this should again be discussed with your GP. Specialists you may be referred to are;
- Psychiatric nurses
- Clinical psychologists
- Occupational therapists
- Social workers
7 Top Health Tips
- Take a time out – Listen to relaxing music, practise relaxation techniques, get a massage, do yoga. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
- Eat well balanced meals – Do not skip any meals, keep healthful, keep energy boosting snacks on hand.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine – This can aggravate anxiety and cause panic attacks.
- Get plenty sleep – When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
- Welcome humour – A good laugh goes a long way.
- Talk to someone – Tell friends, family or a loved one you’re feeling overwhelmed and let them know they can help you.
- Take deep breaths – Inhale and exhale slowly. Count to 10 or 20 if neces