Everyone experiences fear at some stage of their life. Fear is a mechanism that keeps us safe. Undoubtedly, anxiety is an unpleasant, sometimes extremely disturbing experience and if left unchallenged, it can develop into generalised anxiety disorder, phobias or panic disorders.
"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. "
This is characterized by excessive anxiety and worry lasting 6 months or more. It is accompanied by central nervous problems including bodily tension, restlessness, irritability, fatigue, poor concentration and sleep disturbance. Worries usually relate to education, work, finances, safety, social issues and often minor issues such as being on time.
This is an overwhelming fear of situations in which we are exposed to possible scrutiny of others and of being watched and judged by others and of being embarrassed or humiliated in public. This may include obvious situations such as public speaking engagements, social gatherings, communication with the opposite sex or giving presentations at work. This form of anxiety elicits fear of intense panic in such situations and avoidance of or escape from social environments.
This form of anxiety can manifest in sudden, intense and unprovoked feelings of terror and dread often culminating in heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath and an out of control or very frightening feeling. When we suffer this disorder we generally discover strong fears about when we might experience the next panic attack and often avoid places we feel we might have a panic attack or where escape may be difficult such as movie theatres, shopping malls or social gatherings.
Are characterised by persistent, uncontrollable and unwanted feelings, thoughts or images (obsessions) and/or routines or repeated behaviors (compulsions) in which individuals engage to try and prevent or rid themselves of anxiety provoked by the obsessions. Common themes through compulsions may include repeated actions such as; washing hands or cleaning the house excessively for fear of germs or checking something over repeatedly for errors. When we are caught in the cycle of obsession and ritual our lives are constrained and our time otherwise used for living is consumed.
Witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event including severe physical or emotional trauma such as a natural disaster, serious accident or crime may expose us to the risk of post traumatic stress. Post Traumatic Stress can be characterised by thoughts, feelings and behaviour patterns that can become seriously affected by reminders of events, recurring nightmares and/or flashbacks, avoidance of trauma related stimuli and chronically elevated bodily arousal. These reactions might arise weeks even years after the event.
Where our fear is out of proportion to the real danger it becomes completely irrational and begins to prejudice our lives. This is referred to as a phobia. There are any number of phobia, but some of the more common conditions are an irrational, intense and persistent fear of certain situations, activities, things, animals, or people. To overcome this fear the person needs to gradually confront the feared object or situation and stay until the anxiety begins to reduce, in doing so learning that the object is not necessarily dangerous. In practice, the object or situation must be confronted regularly and frequently to overcome the fear, even once the gear has improved
Anxiety, Fear or Panic can have a significant impact on a person's life. It can influence their behaviour and their daily life. In extreme cases, it's impact can severely reduce the quality of life and can impair their ability to do normal everyday tasks.
Trying to control anxiety can lead to feeling more intensely anxious for longer and can lead to developing an anxiety disorder. Anxious people might try to avoid feeling anxious and to escape from the distressing experience. In doing so they can become anxious about being anxious, thus entering a vicious cycle of fear.
People often become quite depressed about feeling excessively anxious which only makes their situation more stressful, isolating, and difficult. The good news is that the vast majority of anxiety conditions are treatable. In the last few decades scientific research focussed on understanding anxiety conditiions. This research provided anxiety practitioners with good knowledge of what underlies various different anxiety conditions and what helps to overcome them.
Where anxiety becomes an ongoing condition and impacts severely on a person’s life or wellbeing, this is referred to as an anxiety disorder.
Treatment for anxiety disorders is to some extent different to general counselling or therapy. Anxiety disorder treatment requires specific knowledge, skills and strategies relevant to the particular anxiety disorder. Although this takes place in the context of a person specific therapy process, the treatment goes beyond general anxiety management such as relaxation. It involves a process of uncovering what causes and maintains the particular anxiety disorder. Followed by a tailored treatment program that addresses the underlying issues and provides the techniques and methods that empowers the sufferer to manage and overcome their fears.