Locked in anxiety

Anxiety is a debilitating mental health condition. For some people it will have been there all your life, for others it arrives seemingly out of the blue, or maybe triggered by a particular event or thought that now won't go away.

Worrying and feeling tense all the time is exhausting, affecting sleep and physical health too. People with anxiety suffer from aches and pains that can't be explained, commonly in the shoulders, chest or stomach. You are probably more susceptible to viral infections and other bugs too. Anxiety gets in the way of normal life because it can feel hard to go out, mix with people or plan ahead, so your work, friendships and family relationships are affected.

Anxiety is often experienced as obsessive thinking, going round in circles over the same problem and getting more and more worried. This obsessiveness can have a function psychologically, in that it keeps our minds off other things that have been painful or difficult in our lives. Unconsciously we may, for example, want to keep people at a distance, (having been hurt in the past) or avoid making changes that feel scary. It might seem strange that being in such distress could be serving any purpose at all and of course it probably isn't helpful anymore but anxiety can become a sort of habit that is hard to break.

Not surprisingly anxiety is linked to depression. Constantly being on high alert changes the chemical composition of the body which can lead to low mood and lack of interest and motivation. The challenge of doing so many things leads to a life that begins to narrow down a bit. We know that lack of exercise, stimulation and social life are bad for mental wellbeing but it takes confidence to do these things, which you may not have if you are feeling very anxious.

Sometimes worries go away on their own especially if you can take the time to relax and look after yourself. Pay attention to exercise, diet and having fun as well as rest. You could try getting someone to come with you on outings. Writing things down and seeing your worries on paper might help to put them in perspective, or help you find a way to solve them. Often people with anxiety are extremely high functioning, keeping their inner fears hidden but try to talk to someone about your concerns, even if they seem too trivial to warrant attention, saying things out loud can really help.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Katie Leatham Individual and Couples Counsellor/ Supervisor BACP Accred, UKRCP

My name is Katie Leatham and I am an accredited, registered BACP counsellor working in Sussex. I work with all people including children and young people, couples and individuals, helping with a range of issues. I specialise in counselling for parents and especially mothers with postnatal depression and anxiety, or other family relationship issues.… Read more

Written by Katie Leatham Individual and Couples Counsellor/ Supervisor BACP Accred, UKRCP

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