Part of the human condition is to feel anxious at times in our lives. Indeed, at times that survival mechanism that puts our senses on high alert can be very useful in looking after us. I am sure that we have all felt butterflies or a knot in our stomach when giving a speech to a room full of people or going to talk to our boss about a raise. Many of us will recognise the fear on seeing a snake in the zoo, or a spider. These are fairly common occurrences of anxiety and usually we can cope with the feelings and get on with our lives.
Yet for some anxiety is a whole different animal that stops their lives in its tracks. Some find that their lives are severely affected; panic attacks can be common, as are avoiding behaviours and obsessive and compulsive behaviours. The difference is that the anxiety stays; it isn’t under control, and it begins to run their life. Many will have heard of people trapped in their own homes or other examples of compulsive behaviour, yet many will struggle to understand them. For the sufferer, it feels like the most severe consequences will follow were they to ignore their anxious thoughts.
With the right treatment it is possible to help those with anxiety disorders. Through a program of work the sufferer can begin to wrestle back control of their thought processes and begin to feel better. While basic processes of dealing with anxiety are understood, tailoring it to the individual can take patience and trial and error. Since we are all individuals, how we arrived at our current state can vary significantly.
There are a variety of approaches and often a combination is what is prescribed. As might be imagined, the GP is a good place to start; they can access various treatment options. One thing that you may be offered is medication, and this can be a good way to start to stabilise your mood while you use a package of care to ‘cure’ yourself in the long term.
One approach that is often suggested and is proven to be effective is counselling. Working with a counsellor, you will look at the thoughts that cause you anxiety and they will work with you to find approaches and actions that allow you to control unwanted behaviours. This might be in challenging the beliefs behind your fears, or in exposing you in small steps to the thing that makes you anxious.
Therapies like relaxation can make a big difference as they help you to control the tension in your body that can feed the anxiety to higher and higher levels and can provide some relief from the constant dread.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember with any program of treatment for anxiety is that the treatments are effective. Although they can take time to work, if you stick with it you will start to feel better like many who have gone before you.
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