Stress is a common feeling that everyone experiences at some time. Most stress is short-lived and manageable, for instance feeling nervous about an upcoming exam or work project, or feeling over-whelmed with daily chores, finances or parenting. While stress and nervousness are natural responses to situations where a person feels under pressure, they usually pass once the stressful situation has passed, or when the ‘stressor’ is removed.
Anxiety is when those feelings don’t pass: it is a serious condition that makes it hard for a person to cope with everyday life. Anxiety can range from emotional discomfort to paralysing fear. Sometimes this can be in relation to certain situations. For example, fear of socialising, public speaking, being left alone, or being in a busy public place. Sometimes it can be a fear of specific things; for example spiders or germs. Then there are other times where Anxiety is generalised, and unrelated to anything other than the fear of experiencing Anxiety itself.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety can cause people to worry excessively about how they are perceived by others, about ‘losing control’, and about their future. A common symptom of anxiety is the tendency to over-think or over-analyse. Most people with anxiety describe racing thoughts, thinking the worst will always happen, and sleep difficulties. There can be physical symptoms such as a pounding heart, shortness of breath, nausea and sweating.
Anxiety can severely impact personal and work relationships, friendships and social connection. Thus, Anxiety can be a debilitating issue impacting all areas of life. Ironically, for all the fear and discomfort that Anxiety can create, its treatment can be relatively straight-forward and highly effective.
There are different types of Anxiety and also different severity levels, therefore treatment options vary according to the individual. In a lot of cases counselling is enough, and there are a number of different therapies that are available and effective. In most cases, there is a focus on looking at how a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours are interacting, and then providing support and guidance to change these patterns. In other cases, counselling combined with medication is the best option. In each and every case one thing is clear: doing what you’ve always done will get you what you’ve always got. Doing something different by seeking help is the first step towards change and recovery.