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Counselling For Anxiety In Southampton

Anxiety is a normal reaction and keeps us alert to the threat of danger or stress. It is a word we use to describe feelings of unease, worry and fear. It encompasses emotions and the physical sensations we might experience when we are worried, fearful or nervous about something. Although we usually find it unpleasant, anxiety is related to the ‘fight or flight’ response – our normal biological reaction to feeling threatened. Like all other animals, human beings have evolved ways to help us protect ourselves from dangerous, life-threatening situations.

When you feel under threat your body releases hormones, such as adrenaline to help you physically prepare to either fight the danger or run away from it. These hormones can:

  • make you feel more alert, so you can act faster

  • make your heart beat faster to carry blood quickly to where it’s needed most.

When you feel the danger has passed, your body responds again to release other hormones to help your muscles relax, sometimes this can cause you to shake. This ‘fight or flight’ response happens automatically and we have no control over it.  Whilst it is unusual to experience situations where we need to physically fight or flee from danger, our biological response to feeling threatened is still the same.

When does anxiety become a mental health issue?

Anxiety becomes an unhealthy response when there is no real danger, it continues beyond the perceived threat or if it intrudes on our lives making it difficult to function. Anxiety affects the mind and body, the constant state of alert is continually producing adrenalin, the physical symptoms which may include muscle tension, racing heart, nausea, sweating and breathlessness can create health problems too.

The most common anxiety disorders are:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

  • Panic disorder

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • Phobias

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Social anxiety

In some anxiety disorders panic attacks can be a symptom.  Most of the symptoms are physical. Panic attacks are identified by an intense fear and anxiety they are usually sudden and brief.  The panic attack is usually in response to a psychological threat e.g. having to talk to someone, a fear that something bad will happen etc. The response to this fear is not useful and the panic attack itself can be a frightening experience.  

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

 GAD is the feeling of being anxious about almost everything and anything for no real apparent reason. Often you will feel overly worried about a number of things e.g. health, money, work, education and relationships. GAD leaves you feeling anxious about a range of things rather than any one specific thing.   While most of us worry or feel anxious at some point in our lives, those experiencing GAD find it difficult to control their worries. Feelings of anxiety are more persistent and often begin to affect their daily lives.

How can Anxiety therapy help?

Anxiety is often self managed by avoiding the situations that cause  distress. This may have short term benefits but the long term consequences are the anxiety increases and you become more fearful to face situations. Talking to someone about your anxiety can help you identify the cause(s) in a safe and non-judgemental space. Your therapist will help you find ways of managing the symptoms of anxiety. They may also help you test the reality of the situations that you worry about, fear and/or avoid.  Therapy will help you identify ways to manage the distress and gain control.


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