Anxiety Therapy Can Help You Have
the Life You Really Want for Yourself
The truth is, anxiety is a normal part of life. Everyone is going to have to deal with situations that cause anxiety. There is absolutely no way you can travel through life without having to deal with anxiety. As living creatures our minds and bodies are programmed to deal with anxiety, but sometimes these programmed responses, actually designed to protect us, over-react and get out of hand. When your anxiety levels get out of hand and start to have a negative impact on your life, then it is time to consider anxiety therapy, as the way to help you find relief and begin to get unstuck and get your life back.
You Are Not Alone with Your Anxiety
In the UK one in ten people will suffer with an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives, it has been estimated that there are 3,000,000 people suffering with anxiety disorders at any one time.
Anxiety is the Body’s Natural Response to Danger
Most people have heard of the body’s natural response to danger, usually referred to as the Fight or Flight Response. Although technically it is correct to refer to it as the Fight/Flight or Freeze response, all of these physical responses are available and utilized by almost all living creatures, not just humans.
The Body Responds to Danger
Let’s step back in time at least 40,000 years to a time when Neanderthal people roamed the earth. From a psychological point of view their lives were much simpler than those we live today, their main concerns were simply staying alive, having something to eat, not being eaten by a wild animal and not being ambushed and killed by a member of a hostile tribe.
When faced with a dangerous situation, there were three things they could do. They could stand and fight, they could run away and hope they were faster than the threat encountered or they could basically collapse and hope that the threat would go away and leave them alone.
If they decided to fight, their bodies would release a mixture of stress hormones, cortisol and adrenalin, causing their heart rate to increase, supplying blood to their muscles, their breathing would increase to supply additional oxygen to the muscles they would need to fight. Additionally, they would begin to sweat as the body took steps to cool itself down in preparation for fight or flight.
If they decided to run away their bodies would follow the same physiological pathway providing them with the maximum amount of physical power, they could muster to save their lives. If the situation was bleak, they might also urinate to lower the amount of weight the the body carried in its efforts to survive. If they realised that they could not outrun or defeat the threat they were facing they might just collapse in a heap on the ground, probably defecating so that the person or animal threating them would be disgusted and just leave them alone and move on.
Differences between Anxiety in Humans and Animals.
Undoubtedly you have watched a wildlife documentary where a lion sneaks up on a herd of wildebeest who immediately begin to panic and run for their lives. Once the lion catches and pulls down a wildebeest, the herd stops running and continues grazing for food. This is an example of the fight and flight mechanism in action. The wildebeests instinctively know that lions are dangerous, but having survived the incident they don’t spend the rest of their lives thinking and worrying about meeting up with another lion.
We humans are different. When we experience a traumatic event, large or small, it leaves a memory in our brain, never to be erased or forgotten. These days it is quite common to refer to our brains as super-computers and in many ways, this is an accurate description, but with one huge difference. While it is possible to delete a program and associated files from a computer, you can never delete a traumatic memory, large or small, from your mind.
In anxiety therapy we are concerned with two areas of the brain. The first is the Limbic System where we find the amygdala and the hippocampus it is this area of the brain that is responsible for the fight or flight response and it operates on auto-pilot. The other part of the brain that we are concerned with is the prefrontal cortex, which is located in the front of our brain, above our eyebrows. This is the part of the brain that makes us human. It is the area where we think about things, consider our options and make decisions. It is the part of the brain that makes us who we are. In anxiety therapy this is the part of the brain that we will be working with to give you the tools you need to learn how to cope with your anxiety in order to live the kind of life you really want to lead.
Stress Hormones and Anxiety
In the example of the poor wildebeest the hormone levels trigged by the immediate threat of being killed by the lion served their purpose, for the animals that survived the experience. The actual act of running for their lives would have burned up the hormonal load of cortisol and adrenalin in their bodies and in a short time their breathing would have returned to a normal level of respiration.
The trouble is with humans the thoughts, feelings and emotions and hormonal load that accompanies an anxiety attack don’t simply dissipate as they would if we were burning them up running for our lives. This state of anxiety can remain with us for quite some time, to make matters worse once something occurs that brings on an anxiety attack a pattern is established in our brains that can easily be triggered once again.
So, we begin to develop anxiety about our anxiety.
Trauma and Anxiety
When we talk about trauma, people’s thoughts usually turn to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) this is a serious condition found among members of the military who have experienced the horrors of war. It can also occur with victims of sexual or physical violence or a life-threatening accident.
But there are a whole range of anxiety causing traumas that can have a huge psychological impact on our lives. These traumas can start in childhood and continue throughout our lives resulting in a variety of anxiety disorders that limit our abilities to have the kind of life we really want to have for ourselves.
The problem with being a human being is that our minds are constantly being filled with negative “what if” stories. These stories can revolve around any and all aspects of life such as: relationships, health, finance, employment.
The Difference Between Stress and Anxiety
Some Examples of Stress.
They say that for a middle-age man the threat of public speaking is a greater fear than having a heart attack.
Getting stuck in traffic when you know you are going to be late for work and have a problem with your boss is stressful.
Getting home two hours late for dinner when you have gone out for a drink with friends and your partner has cooked a special meal for you is going to be stressful.
Buying or selling a house is stressful.
Waiting to see if your children have been accepted into a top school is stressful.
All of the above situations are quite capable of producing a minor version of the fight or flight response that can cause some problems, but will pass relatively quickly for most people
Some Examples of Anxiety
For a person with an anxiety disorder, anxiety would trigger what is called experiential avoidance. This would entail making a decision to avoid the immediate problem, unfortunately resulting in the possibility of long-term serious consequences.
For the person afraid of public speaking the decision might be to never speak up at a meeting and thereby eliminating himself for consideration for a promotion in the future.
Stuck in traffic knowing that you are going to have a problem with your boss, turning around and going home, calling in sick, nevertheless sowing the seeds for a problem with your boss in the future.
Fearing a problem at home making the decision to never to go out again with your friends after work and losing some important people in your life.
Avoiding the stress related to selling a house by never moving or accepting a job promotion that might entail the selling of your home.
Making a selfish decision to leave your children in the local school to avoid the stress of a public-school application, perhaps diminishing your kid’s chances of success in life.
Anxiety Therapy with Barry
Anxiety therapy with me is all about helping you to learn how to cope with the anxiety issues that are having a serious negative effect on your life. There is no one correct therapeutic protocol for anxiety, everyone will respond to therapy in their own way.
Essentially you will be learning a set of new skills to manage your anxiety so that it will not continue to deprive you of the life you want to have for yourself. Among other things we will be using mindfulness to help you learn how to ride out emotional storms when they arise.
We will be working together as a team, developing a programme that step by step will enable you to achieve your goals of having the kind of life you really want for yourself.