Anxiety and panic attacks“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anais Nin
Almost all my clients suffer, in some way from anxiety. Anxiety disorders and panic attacks are all too common today and the effects can be far-reaching and debilitating, ranging from preventing you from doing what you want to do to causing actual physical illness. Anxiety is behind the widespread use of tranquillisers, sleeping pills and anti-depressants as well as addictive behaviours such as smoking, alcohol abuse, gambling and overeating.
Chronic anxiety, where your system is releasing stress hormones most of the time, impairs the functioning of the immune system and can thus be a major contributing factor in serious health conditions.
Common anxiety situations:
- Feeling pulled in two directions (unable to take a decision)
- Feeling overwhelmed by life/work (too much to do, not enough time)
- Fear of a certain person or situation (including phobias)
- Feeling out of your depth (inadequate skills for a specific job or role)
- Excessive expectations of self (perfectionism)
- Feelings of hopelessness (‘I’m not good enough’)
- Feelings of paranoia (‘they’re out to get me’)
Physical symptoms of anxiety may include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, stomach aches and headaches. Emotional symptoms may include feelings of dread, difficulty concentrating, tension, anticipating the worst, irritability or restlessness, a blank mind, nightmares, obsessive thinking, feeling trapped, feeling overwhelmed or unsafe, etc. The constant release of stress hormones can cause the body’s metabolic activities including those of digestion and reproduction to switch off.
These can occur at any time, even during sleep. You may believe you are having a heart attack or that death is imminent. The fear and terror is quite unrelated to the reality of the situation. Some people describe a panic attack as being one of the most intensely frightening, upsetting and uncomfortable experiences of their life. When the attacks occur repeatedly the condition is known as ‘panic disorder’.
PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
This is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents or military combat. PTSD symptoms include re-experiencing the original trauma(s) through flashbacks or nightmares.
OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
OCD is a combination of obsessions (unwanted, intrusive thoughts) and compulsions (repetitive behaviours aimed at reducing anxiety). Compulsions may include obsessive cleaning, counting, checking, requesting or demanding reassurance, repeating phrases or sequences of words or ensuring order and symmetry.
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