Anxiety is a common used term which may refer to a temporary state or one which has been experienced over a longer period of time.
There are both physiological and psychological components to anxiety. Such as feelings of panic, fear, unease, problems with sleeping, shortness of breath, irritable bowel, cold or sweaty hands and feet, palpitations, dry mouth, nausea, obsessive thoughts or flashbacks of traumatic experiences.
Anxiety though is a normal reaction to a stressor that triggers reactions in the body, mind or emotions, but it often includes feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness and dread. Anxiety can become pervasive and have a negative impact on life activity.
The symptoms of anxiety may be so strong that clients can experience a dread of what might happen and have a negative belief about planned events which might be out of proportion.
People often have experiences of anxiety which are normal and it is common to feel panicky.
Going to the dentists, witnessing some kind of incident, sitting for an exam or attending a job interview can all lead to symptoms of anxiety.
A panic attack though is different in that feelings are a lot stronger. The attack can be sudden, the experience frightening and overwhelming.
It is important to remember that panic attacks are very common and are generally not dangerous. They can be distinguished from mental or physical illness.
So a panic attack is a sudden frightening feeling accompanied by physical symptoms such as rapid breathing, a pounding heart, palpitations, hyperventilation, excessive sweating, shaky feelings which can lead to thoughts that something dreadful is happening.
REMEMBER that panic in itself is not dangerous or harmful. However I always recommend that if someone experiences the symptoms mentioned above, that in the first instance they get themselves checked over by a doctor to hopefully eliminate any underlying physical cause.
Panic then is a fear and a response to a perceived threat to our well being. Panic attacks though generally occur when there is no physical threat to our well being. A panic attack is a response to a false alarm and is caused by a physiological reaction as a result of our increased rapid breathing which provides oxygen to our muscles and a subsequent increased heart rate which serves to pump blood rapidly round your body. This activity can lead to the extremes of arousal and sensations in our body which can be terrifying.
Panic attacks can begin for several reasons;
Unresolved past events/experiences
For some they seem to occur for no definable reason.
Panic therefore has an impact on your body with physical symptoms, worrying thoughts and the way we react behaviourally. How we think, feel and behave contribute significantly to the way in which we deal with panic. If we don’t pay attention to this we can find ourselves in a repetitive vicious cycle of worry and distress.
In my counselling I offer the client an understanding of the theory of anxiety and discuss its possible physiological and psychological reactions.
As your counsellor I will endeavour to understand your experience and explore possible underlying issues which may be connected to the cause of your anxiety or experiences of panic attacks. I appreciate the distressing impact of panic attacks and will provide an understanding through support as I discuss the potential of coping strategies and recommend different breathing techniques. I will discuss patterns of thinking which may be having a negative impact and will explore alternative perspectives which if considered could bring relief from the extremes of anxiety.
Stephen Derrick - Anxiety Counselling Hull