Are you in control or is anxiety taking over?
Does it feels as though anxiety and stress have become a regular part of your everyday life, with sleepless nights and a general feeling of burnout making it increasingly hard to stay focussed? If that is the case, it’s time for you to take back control.
So how does this over-anxious state develop and what can we do to reduce it? Once you understand what has happened to create this overwhelming state of discomfort, you can begin the process of rewinding back to a feeling of calm, comfort and normality. This article takes you through the signs and symptoms of anxiety disorder, panic attacks, phobias and PTSD and in doing so, seeks to explain the often subtle differences between each and how to recognise them.
For many adults, the stress of trying to keep up with the pace of modern life has simply become too much. Learning to adjust to the massive changes in the technological world, concerns over employment, increased instability in family life and a greater expectation for amassing material possessions, all contribute to the ever growing numbers of people seeking help to overcome extreme anxiety. There are a variety of reasons why this acutely anxious state begins to spiral out of control.
Human beings, just like animals, have an element of anxiety hardwired into our systems and this acts as a natural inborn response to any threatening situation. It is a very healthy, adaptive and protective state, designed to keep us safe as in the normal ‘fight or flight’ situation. For some people however, their anxiety starts to become out of proportion and becomes over-protective. It is at this stage that it becomes a disorder.
It is most often the result of one particular stressor and the anxiety response is usually short-lived. Whilst it is happening however, our senses become heightened, our feelings of discomfort become greatly magnified and we unintentionally begin looking for danger signs everywhere we go and in everything we do.
The most common features of anxiety disorder include:
• insomnia and restlessness
• extreme fatigue/ burnout
• pounding heart
• sweaty palms
• feelings of entrapment
• poor concentration
If left unchecked, the anxiety disorder can develop into panic attacks. Panic attacks are different, in that they are not induced by any one stressor, but can be brought on by anything.
People who experience panic attacks genuinely believe that something is seriously wrong with them and will develop strange behaviours, such as going to extraordinary lengths to avoid places where they have had an attack previously and this can in some circumstances, lead to a phobia developing. If this sounds familiar to you, you will almost certainly have found the panic attack accompanied by some of the following symptoms:
• A feeling of intense discomfort, developing suddenly and reaching a crescendo within about 10 minutes.
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
• A genuine fear of dying
• A feeling of unreality and being out of control
Phobias: A phobia is a different type of anxiety and can be described as an extreme or irrational fear of, or aversion to, something in particular. This may be a place, an object or a situation. Often, the sufferer has no idea why this has occurred, but the fear becomes persistent. In medical terms a phobia is said to be ‘out of proportion’ to the threat, when considering the situation and environment. The most common forms of phobia are extreme fears such as those of spiders, the dark, snakes or flying. Agoraphobia and social phobia are more complex, but not uncommon forms of this issue. Phobic people will go to great lengths to avoid the object of that fear and may become highly distressed if they cannot do so. Phobias can develop from panic attacks and the symptoms are very similar.
PTSD: (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is yet another extreme form of anxiety. It has been widely documented how war veterans are prime examples of those who, having witnessed, horrifying, savage or extremely traumatic scenes, find it exceptionally hard to reintegrate back into normal every day civilian life. But PTSD is certainly not limited to war veterans and can be suffered by anyone who has experienced severe trauma or distress in a multitude of other life events.
PTSD can be recognised by any combination of the following behaviours:
• Marked change in behaviour , developing after an event the sufferer has experienced which involved actual or threatened death, serious injury, or a threat to personal integrity, from which their response to this involved extreme fear, abject horror or helplessness.
• Continuously re-experiencing the event, with recurrent and intrusive recollections, nightmares, illusions and/or flashbacks.
• Experience of intense distress when confronted with anyreminders of the event
• Persistent avoidance of specific places, thoughts, activities, conversations or anything else associated with the trauma
• Inability to recall parts of the trauma, experiencing feelings of detachment from others and an inability to have or express loving feelings
• Difficulty in sleeping, outbursts of anger, problems with concentration, exaggerated startle response and difficulty socialising
• Continuation of the issue beyond a one month duration
These are some of the most commonly recognisable markers for detecting PTSD.
The latest research shows that stress and anxiety issues, along with depression, are fast becoming one of the biggest health problems in the Western world, with approximately 10% of the population suffering from panic attacks, anxiety disorder or phobias, in the last year alone. The issue is not exclusive to adults, but also affects adolescents and children, whose greatest concerns are usually centred around performance at school, social media and self- image.
However, there is good news and this is that all these anxiety states can be successfully treated using clinical hypnotherapy. This scientifically researched, powerful, yet gentle therapy, enables us to open up our inner thought processes, allows us to see our issues from a totally different perspective and subsequently alters our understanding and belief about the perceived problem on a deep level. This in turn helps to create acceptance and dismissal of the issues that formed the problem in the first place. The aim of clinical hypnotherapy is to empower the individual to tap into their own innate strengths and to find the answers for themselves. In doing so, they are able to move on with a renewed sense of confidence, optimism and self-control.
When looking for a good hypnotherapist to assist you in making those changes, finding one with whom you feel naturally comfortable, trusting and at ease, is of utmost importance.
I am a qualified clinical hypnotherapist, specialising in anxiety and stress management, endorsed by the NCH, (National Council for Hypnotherapy,) and the CNHC, (Complementary and National Healthcare Council.) I work from two busy consulting rooms based in Exeter and Exmouth and offer you a free 30 minute telephone consultation, to enable you to get all your questions answered and to ensure both parties can decide if this is the right therapy and the right partnership, to help you to overcome your issues
So if you are suffering from issues surrounding phobias, anxiety disorder, panic attacks or PTSD, give me a call and get your questions answered. Believe me, you will know instinctively, well before the 30 minutes is up, whether or not I am the right person to help you resolve your issues and that gut instinct, in my experience, is invariably right!