Most people feel anxious from time to time and this is perfectly normal. Sometimes levels of anxiety can become too intense and interfere with our day to day lives.
Anxiety causes a number of physical symptoms ranging from a fast heart rate, a thumping heart (palpitations), feeling sick, shaking (tremor), sweating, dry mouth, chest pain, headaches, and fast breathing, as well as other symptoms. When we feel threatened in any way it is normal for us to feel anxious. Anxiety can be helpful in certain situations, giving us the rush of adrenalin we need to run a race or get away. Our past experiences also influence our beliefs and attitudes about certain situations and affect the levels of vulnerability that we feel and thus our levels of anxiety. Anxiety is considered abnormal if it Is out of proportion to the stressful situation, or persists when a stressful situation has gone, or the stress is minor, or appears for no apparent reason when there is no stressful situation. Anxiety is often linked to depression.
The physical symptoms of anxiety are caused in the most part by the brain which sends messages down the nerves to parts of the body. These messages tend to trigger the heart and lungs and other parts of the body to work faster. When anxious, stress hormones such as adrenalin are released into the bloodstream. These also affect parts of the body causing symptoms. When suffering from an anxiety disorder it is as if the body’s normal alarm system is triggered either too soon or by a lesser threatening situation than would normally warrant such a heightened response.
Above, anxiety has been discussed in general terms, general anxiety disorder (GAD), but there are a number of specific anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attack and panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and post traumatic stress disorder.
Counselling for anxiety disorders vary according to the model of counselling approach. The severity of anxiety and it’s affects on day to day life may aid a counsellor to determine the appropriate therapeutic model. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy can be helpful for those suffering from generalised anxiety disorders, whereas it is reported not so helpful for those suffering from more specific disorders such as; post traumatic stress disorder, particularly those stemming from traumas in childhood
It is most important to remember that counselling is not a treatment done to you, a counsellor is there to work with you, to facilitate your own understanding of your thoughts, beliefs and behaviours, the aim of which is for you to move toward positive changes in order to decrease your symptoms.