We will all at some point during our lives experience acute anxiety. But what is it? How do we know we have it? Further more what can we do about it?
In simplistic terms anxiety is driven by fear, and usually of the unknown. Fear drives the body and mind into a sense of panic, a feeling of being out of control, nervous and full of worry. For most of us anxiety passes quite quickly, it may be relieved by some kind and supportive words by loved ones, but for others Anxiety is debilitating, relentless and frightening.
In children anxiety can build and become a phobia and if it’s not dealt with properly can last a lifetime. Anyone with a phobia would probably tell you they have had it since childhood, as generally that is when the fear triggers the phobia. A classic and very common anxiety that becomes a phobia is that fear of spiders. A spider may have taken the child by surprise, perhaps lowering itself from a ceiling and then dropping onto the child or indeed brought about by another child pretending to chase the little boy or girl with a spider. I have countless stories like these but want I really want to explain is that if that person is in an anxious state or vulnerable when something like that happens, the emotion of the fear links with the spider, creating a phobic reaction each time he/she sees one or senses one.
Childhood anxiety is very common, after all growing up can be quite daunting! It is very important to recognize the anxiety as a parent to enable you to handle it in an appropriate way. A child may shows symptoms like these; not wanting to go to school, needing to be close to you at all times (having to be in the same room), over sensitive, slightly withdrawn, constant tummy aches. When something traumatic happens within a family, we mostly feel that children are very resilient and yes they can be at that time but sometimes anxiety comes out at a later date. This is often true of bereavement. Perhaps a Grandparent dying or even the family pet! It is very important to address such anxieties as and when they are felt, remembering that it is a fear. Help reassure the child with explanations of what happens next and give them a positive outlook by letting them know that how they are feeling is quite normal and it will pass. Hugs really help.
In adulthood anxiety feels much differently. It can cause marital breakdown, depression, loss of libido and generally has an impact on the entire family. I see many people who just cannot rationalize their fears and worries, but I tell them that’s because they are not rational! Fear in certain circumstances is totally irrational, however we do need the emotion to keep us out of harms way. Anxiety is very apparent in people who have the following symptoms; shortness of breath suddenly, pains in the chest, a feeling of being unwell, feeling faint, hyperventilating. All these can be symptoms of a classic Panic attack. This may be frequent, but the good news is that it can be easily treated. Route causes of these are attack are often unexplained but even so can be dealt with quickly with psychotherapy Hypnosis or counseling.
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