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Lewis Psychology Services for Anxiety

What is Anxiety?

Everybody gets anxious when faced with a stressful situation, for example before an exam or an interview, or during a worrying time such as illness. It's normal to feel anxious when you face something difficult or dangerous. For some people anxiety can be overwhelming and interfere with everyday life. Fortunately, there are effective treatments that can help such as:cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and counselling.

The Different Types of Anxiety Disorder

Panic Disorder - Repeated episodes of intense fear that strike often and without warning. Physical symptoms include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, abdominal distress, feelings of unreality, and fear of dying.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Repeated, unwanted thoughts or compulsive behaviours that seem impossible to stop or control. Common obsessions include fears around germs, dirt or violence. Compulsions are thoughts or actions that people feel they must do or repeat. A compulsion is usually a response to ease the anxiety of an obsession, such as repeatedly washing your hands to deal with an obsession about dirt.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - Persistent symptoms that occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event such as rape or other criminal assault, war, child abuse, natural or human-caused disasters, or crashes. Nightmares, flashbacks, depression, and feeling angry, irritable or distracted and being easily startled are common.

Phobias - Two major types of phobias are social phobia and specific phobia. People with social phobia have an overwhelming and disabling fear of scrutiny, embarrassment, or humiliation in social situations, which leads to avoidance of many potentially pleasurable and meaningful activities. People with specific phobia experience extreme, disabling and irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger; the fear leads to avoidance of objects or situations and can cause people to limit their lives unnecessarily.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) - Constant, exaggerated worrisome thoughts and tension about everyday routine life events and activities. Almost always anticipating the worst even though there is little reason to expect it; accompanied by physical symptoms, such as fatigue, trembling, muscle tension, headache or nausea.

Social Phobia, or Social Anxiety Disorder - An anxiety disorder characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. Social phobia can be limited to only one type of situation - such as a fear of speaking in formal or informal situations, or eating or drinking in front of others - or, in its most severe form, may be so broad that a person experiences symptoms almost anytime they are around other people.

Health Anxiety - An obsessional preoccupation with the idea or the thought that you are currently (or will be) experiencing a physical illness. Those who are affected by health anxiety are convinced that harmless physical symptoms are indicators of serious disease or severe medical conditions. For example, if a person experiencing health anxiety feels that their chest is getting tight, they may believe that they are having a heart attack. Those with health anxiety frequently misinterpret physical symptoms of anxiety as a sign of an impending physical health problem.

Anxiety, Wolverhampton

Symptoms of Anxiety

When you're anxious, you may also have a range of physical symptoms. These happen because of your body's 'fight or flight' response, which is caused by the release of the stress hormone adrenaline.

The symptoms can include:

  • abdominal discomfort
  • diarrhoea
  • dry mouth
  • rapid heartbeat or palpitations
  • tightness or pain in your chest
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • needing to urinate more often than usual
  • difficulty swallowing
  • shaking

You can also get psychological symptoms, which can include:

  • sleeping difficulties (insomnia)
  • feeling worried or uneasy all the time
  • feeling tired
  • being irritable or quick to get angry
  • being unable to concentrate
  • a fear that you're 'going mad'
  • feeling not in control of your actions, or detached from your surroundings (derealisation)

Causes of Anxiety

Anxiety disorders may be caused by environmental factors, medical factors, life-experiences,  substance abuse, or a combination of these. It is most commonly triggered by the stress in our lives. Usually anxiety is a response to outside forces, but it is possible that we make ourselves anxious with "negative self-talk" - a habit of always telling ourselves the worst will happen.

Circumstances - sometimes it's obvious what is making you anxious. When the problem disappears, so does the anxiety. However, some extreme situations are so threatening that the anxiety goes on long after the event. You can feel nervous and anxious for months or years, even if you were physically unharmed. This is called post-traumatic stress disorder.

Drugs - recreational drugs like amphetamines, LSD or ecstasy can all make you anxious - for some people, the caffeine in coffee is enough.

Life experience - bad experiences in the past or big life-changes such as pregnancy, changing job, becoming unemployed or moving house.

Services That Can Help

Counselling and psychotherapy can help you understand what is happening to you and why you feel anxious by recognising and addressing your anxiety triggers.  You may also learn techniques to control and manage anxiety symptoms. Understanding where anxiety originated can also help you gain a new perspective.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can also be effective when dealing with anxiety issues. It allows you to look at your own unhelpful thought processes and employs graduated exercises in desensitisation and exposure to help people face their fears and anxieties.For example, CBT can help people with panic disorder learn that their panic attacks are not really heart attacks and help people with social phobia learn how to overcome the belief that others are always watching and judging them. When people are ready to confront their fears, they are shown how to use exposure techniques to desensitize themselves to situations that trigger their anxieties.

The EMDR approach allows a therapist to act both in the reconstruction of the elements that may have forced the beginning of the typical symptoms of anxiety and to directly intervene at a neurophysiological level to facilitate the reworking of the elements stored dysfunctional in memory and recurrently expressed as anxiety.

EMDR processing can be applied to targets such as your first and worst episodes of anxiety, life events related to anxiety and anticipated anxiety attacks. You would also work on current triggers related to anxiety in the present and prepare for future experiences. Using EMDR we would work towards the elimination of anxiety and avoidance behaviours, insight about symptoms and return to normal daily functioning. 

Make An Appointment

If you would like to arrange an appointment, make a referral or require further information about how we can help please telephone our Wolverhampton practice on: 01902 827808.  Alternatively fill out our online contact form.

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Medical disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice by a qualified doctor.