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Anxiety is an emotional response that’s similar to fear - both originate in areas of the brain that have evolved to deal with danger or threatening situations. However, they differ in how they are triggered. We feel fear when there is a clearly identifiable, present danger but we can feel anxiety when we experience a sense of dread or discomfort but aren’t actually, at that moment, in danger.


Nevertheless, both may trigger the brain’s automatic threat response and your body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. As a result, you may experience a range of physical sensations such as;

  • increased rate of heartbeat,

  • rapid breathing,

  • increased blood flow to muscles (producing trembling or twitching)

  • sweating,

  • reduced blood flow to peripheral skin areas (going pale)

  • slowing of digestive system (butterflies in stomach or nausea)

  • relaxation of bladder

  • dilation of pupils

  • dry mouth


These are all features of the body’s ”fight or flight” automatic response to danger but if they are triggered by anxiety, they can be experienced as a ‘panic attack’.

(Note -  a threatening situation could alternatively prompt “freeze” or “flop” reactions)   


Everyone experiences fear and anxiety, but people often feel anxiety more keenly when they’re under some kind of stress. Problems begin when anxiety continues long term and starts interfering with important aspects of our lives. It has the power to overwhelm a person and rob them of the ability to carry out many of the basic activities of their life.


There are a range of anxiety based states that are described as anxiety disorders. These include:-


  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) - if you often feel anxious or fearful, but not anxious about a specific event or experience, you may be diagnosed with GAD. Typically, these feelings are related to everyday tasks, such as stress at home or work, but other times you may not know why you’re feeling anxious.


  • Panic disorder - if you experience seemingly unpredictable panic attacks, and are unable to identify a trigger, you may be diagnosed with panic disorder. Symptoms include shortness of breath, feeling faint and trembling.


  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, and experiencing flashbacks or nightmares, you may be diagnosed with PTSD. These reactions can make you feel like you’re reliving the fear and anxiety over and over again.



  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) - OCD comprises of obsessional thoughts followed by compulsive urges. The obsessions are recurring urges, thoughts or images that can cause you to feel anxious. Compulsions are the actions or thoughts that you feel the need to do or repeat. Compulsions are typically a response to ease the anxiety of an obsession.


Other than these specific anxiety disorders, it can underly many of the situations or circumstances that can limit people’s lives and cause them distress. Examples include:-


  • Demands of relationships and family

  • Difficulty in being able to relax or sleep

  • Pressure to perform at work - impacting on self-respect or financial security

  • Challenges to confidence or self-esteem - resulting in avoidance of situations or displays of defensive anger

  • Bereavement and loss - worry about the prospect of the future in the face of the loss.


Anxiety is a problem that can get worse if the stressors continue to build up. People may feel ashamed to ask for help or believe that it’s not ‘that big a problem’, thus covering their feelings and dealing with it alone. It’s important to know that you deserve support and, as lonely as you feel, people care.


Treatment for anxiety


If you are experiencing anxiety, it’s important that you contact your doctor. They can assess your feelings and symptoms and discuss a suitable treatment option. Anxiety treatment aims to reduce symptoms and teach you coping methods - so that you can manage feelings before they become too severe.

There are many treatment options available, though which one/s your GP offers will depend on your diagnosis. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), you should be offered a talking treatment before prescribing medication.


Anxiety counselling


Talking to a counsellor can help in many ways, including helping you understand what may be causing your anxiety, and teaching you coping techniques.


Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is currently one of the most frequently prescribed talking therapies. CBT aims to help you manage problems by enabling you to recognise how your thoughts affect both your feelings and influence your behaviour. This helps to break any overwhelming problems down into smaller, more manageable tasks.

However, there are many alternative types of talking therapies available that can help to deal with anxiety in its various forms. Examples include:-

  • Mindfulness based relaxation techniques to deal with panic and GAD.

Treatments in the Clinic available for Anxiety

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Eye Movement desensitization and Reprocessing

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