Understanding anxiety


Sometimes feeling anxious can be as normal as it gets: an important exam, a complex presentation at work, starting a new business… but what happens when the lens over reality is constantly filtering through non-specific, unconnected fear, restlessness, fatigue, palpitations, excessive sweating, nausea, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, irritability…?

Anxiety is defined by specialists as vague fear, without a well specified object, doubled by continuous tension, worry and feeling of permanent threat. Thus, even if an anxiogenic factor is eliminated or exhausted, it gets replaced by a new one.

One can realize the fact that the fear is void of sense, unreasonable or unrealistic, even tries to overcome it, however unsuccessfully. In this case, the common suggestion “Just relax!”, not only it doesn’t have the desired outcome, but increases the state of nervousness. It is not surprising that these emotional states can be accompanied or followed by panic attacks - a strong feeling of imminent danger translating into sudden trembling, sweating, palpitation and/or fear of death.

A person characterized by anxiety spirals and ruminates different thoughts with negative impact on the overall everyday life such as job performance (e.g. avoiding delivering presentations or voicing own point of views), school activity (e.g. difficulties regarding integration), relationships, etc.

These thoughts can strike as different forms of creating and repeating conversations or scenarios, planning what to say in each of these scenarios; self-criticism; idea of “I have to be perfect” or else “I’m a failure”, “I’m not good enough”, “I will be judged”. Then the meta-emotion can emerge: “I feel nervous because I am anxious”, spiraling again and becoming overwhelming and exhausting.

How can counselling or therapy help?

There are lots of ways in which counselling or therapy prove to be efficient in the treatment of anxiety. Even the loud expression of the inner voice can help understand things in a different way and ease the burden. A psychologist or psychotherapist will support you develop insight and flexible skills in a safe, non-judgmental frame. As mentioned before, we talk about unrealistic or improbable fears or views of reality which however are quite realistic for the person in question and therefore, identifying these negative thoughts and replacing them with more adaptative ones can be an important key. Understanding the source of those thinking patterns, questioning them and gathering logical arguments disrupt the maladaptive swirl and create the path for a more supportive and healthier representation.

To reduce body tension, specialists use different relaxation techniques that improve the over-all state of mind and body, help alleviate different anxiety related conditions such as muscle tension, headaches, clenched jaw, difficulty concentrating, etc.

Remember: Anxiety doesn’t define you and you are not Anxiety!

Accept, breathe, talk, trust yourself!