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What is Anxiety?

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

There are many forms of anxiety that are categorised into different types according to the basis of the fear associated with the feelings of anxiety. This blog explores the thinking patterns asociated with the different forms of anixety.

What is Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

Generalised anxiety disorder is where you feel anxious most of the time. It can cause the following symptoms:

The Concept of Worrying

Worry can be defined as a type of self-talk in which we predict that negative events will happen in the future and over-estimate the possibility of disaster. Worrying thoughts tend to be characterised by “What if?” statements.

For example:

  • What if my plane is delayed?

  • What if I’m caught in traffic and am late for work?

  • What if something awful happens to my children?

  • What if I get ill?

  • What if I lose my job?

This is often followed by imagined situations in which we try to plan how we would cope with these events if they were to happen. Often this involves over estimating the likelihood or severity of negative events and underestimating our own ability to cope, should the event occur. #Covid19 #Stress #Phobias #Anxiety #CBT #Life #Love #Selfdevelopment #Anxious #Overcomefear #Anger #Fears #Psychology #Lifecoach #Mindfulness #Meditation #Depression #Bipolar #Suicidalthoughts.

The Role of Uncertainty in Worry

Worrying is a reaction to uncertainty. People who worry tend to have a low tolerance of uncertainty. Even a small amount of uncertainty can cause worry.

Worrying tends to be about future events, for which certainty is impossible.

Think about the types of things that you worry about. Would you be worried if they were completely certain? If you could gaze into a crystal ball and know with absolute certainty what will happen with your career, your finances, your family and your health, would you still worry about them?

Worrying and intolerance of uncertainty create a vicious cycle. Intolerance of uncertainty causes you to worry, and the more you worry the more intolerant you become to uncertainty. #Covid19 #Stress #Phobias #Anxiety #CBT #Life #Love #Selfdevelopment #Anxious #Overcomefear #Anger #Fears #Psychology #Lifecoach #Mindfulness #Meditation #Depression #Bipolar #Suicidalthoughts.

Anxiety is a normal human response to danger or threat. Anxiety helps protect us from harm and makes it more likely that we’ll survive. In other words, it helps keep us safe. In fact, anxiety is good most of the time. If you came face to face with a tiger, anxiety would get your body ready to fight or run away. Feeling anxious about a job interview, can make you prepare carefully. This could increase your chance of getting the job.

Anxiety becomes a problem when it is higher than it should be in that situation, lasts longer than it should or interferes with our ability to function in daily life.

The Cycle of Anxiety

One of the basic ideas of CBT is that our moods, physical feelings, actions, and thoughts are connected, and each impacts the other. The cycle of anxiety shows how these connected aspects of ourselves can contribute to overly worried moods, or anxiety. #Covid19 #Stress #Phobias #Anxiety #CBT #Life #Love #Selfdevelopment #Anxious #Overcomefear #Anger #Fears #Psychology #Lifecoach #Mindfulness #Meditation #Depression #Bipolar #Suicidalthoughts.

For now, let’s examine how anxiety impacts our emotions, thoughts, physical feelings, and actions.

Anxiety & Emotions

When a person is anxious, they experience unpleasant emotions such as:

  • Fear

  • Nervousness

  • Insecurity

  • Uneasiness

It is often the intensity and duration of these emotions that is difficult to handle. A person who is anxious can often feel overwhelmed by these negative emotions. Then, they try to avoid situations that cause them. You will learn more about emotions in “Understanding Feelings”.

Anxiety & Thoughts

When a person is feeling anxious, the way they are thinking becomes distorted.

A person experiencing anxiety may:

  • Overestimate the likelihood of danger

  • Overestimate the level of risk

  • Underestimate their ability to handle it

Many people who feel anxious also spend a lot of time worrying. Worrying about what might happen can make anxiety worse. It also makes us believe that we don’t have the ability to handle things. The more time we spend worrying, the less we can be realistic about the chance of danger or level of risk in a given situation.

Anxiety & Physical Reactions

When a person is very anxious, their body responds in a powerful way as it prepares to respond to the threat.

The intense physical reactions can be overwhelming and can often lead a person to feel like they will faint, die or lose control.

The physical responses associated with anxiety are:

· Fast or irregular heartbeat

· Rapid breathing

· Trembling

· Numbness or tingling in fingers, toes or lips

· Dry mouth

· Sweating

· Pale face

· Tense muscles

· Dizziness

· Faintness

· Indigestion

· Frequent urination

· Diarrhoea

· Nausea

Anxiety & Behaviours

When a person is feeling anxious, the way they behave on a day-to-day basis is affected. The emotions and physical responses that come with anxiety can be extremely unpleasant. As a result, many people experiencing anxiety will avoid situations that cause their anxiety.

Although this can help reduce anxiety at the time, in the long-term it can keep us from valuable life experiences or opportunities. It can stop us from using more helpful coping skills.

Anxiety & Suicidal Thoughts

Anxiety can become so intense for some that they think about killing themselves. Suicidal thoughts are very common for people grappling with anxiety, but having these thoughts doesn’t mean a person is going to act on them.

Anxiety can make you feel as though pain and unhappiness will never end. But it is important to remember that most difficulties are temporary, or you can learn to cope with them.

Mental health conditions such as anxiety are treatable. You can learn how to overcome these feelings.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, speak to a trusted doctor immediately for support and advice. If your doctor’s office is closed then use the NHS 111 24-7 service, who will be able to help you get the specialist help you might need at that time. If you want someone to talk to about how you are feeling then you can call The Samaritans on 116 123. The Samaritans offer a 24-7 telephone helpline.

It is also vital that you share these thoughts with a doctor or therapist. Thoughts of suicide may be difficult to discuss, but it’s essential that you let those caring for you know how you are feeling so they can give you the best possible support.

Anxiety & Self-Harm

For some people, anxiety can become so overwhelming they resort to self-harm. People who use self-harm have often experienced difficulties in their lives or relationships. Self-harm can be a way to express emotions, feel more in control, or to show others they are suffering.

Self-harming can lead to long-term or permanent scarring and damage. If you are self-harming, or are thinking about it, talk to your doctor for support and advice.

Distractions can be useful when you are having thoughts of self-harm. If you find yourself struggling with these thoughts, try one of the activities below, or come up with your own ways of distracting yourself until the urge to self-harm passes:

  • Take a bath

  • Do something to look after yourself

  • Go for a walk

  • Draw

  • Rip papers/smash something

  • Punch a pillow

  • Write lists

  • Play with a pet

  • Call a friend

If you still feel the urge to self-harm, you can try one of these techniques:

  • Draw on yourself with a red marker

  • Snap an elastic band on your wrist

  • Mix warm water and food colouring and put it on your skin

  • Squeeze ice cubes

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