Psychotherapy and Counselling for Anxiety in Edinburgh, London and Online
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is one of the most common emotions that humans experience. It affects both our mind and our body, as it generates feelings of unease, worry, fear as well as unpleasant physical sensations. Anxiety, functions as an information mechanism, for example, when we are faced with a frightening or life-threatening situation, it activates the ‘fight or flight’ response – a normal biological reaction that mobilises us to detect, avoid and escape danger. Anxiety is also experienced during less extreme situations, such as during exams, job interviews, public speaking and performances. In these situations, feeling anxious is a common and normal response that often helps provide the motivation we need to prepare us to perform and excel. However, sometimes we experience so much anxiety that instead of helping us, it makes us unable to perform. Sometimes we also experience anxiety related to aspects of our life that we experience on a day-to-day basis, such as our school or work life. When this happens, the anxiety builds without release. One way to understand anxiety is to imagine it as an experience that sits on a spectrum that ranges from no anxiety to extreme anxiety. It is when anxiety reaches the extreme end of the spectrum, and when it lasts for a prolonged period of time, that it becomes a psychological problem that impacts negatively on ones’ life. Below are a range of symptoms caused by anxiety that can affect our Feelings, Thoughts, Body and Behaviour:
Symptoms of Anxiety
• Feeling frightened, worried, and nervous;
• Feeling tense, stressed, restless, unsettled and constantly on edge;
• Experiencing feelings of being unreal, woozy, panicky and detached;
• Feeling numb.
• Thinking that you are going to faint, collapse, that you are having a heart attack, that there is not enough air to breathe;
• Thinking that you are going to lose control of yourself and behave in a ‘crazy and weird‘ way;
• Thinking that you have to get out/escape a closed space or crowded place;
• Having thoughts that something dreadful is going to happen either to you or someone you know;
• Dwelling and ruminating on negative experiences;
• Not feeling able to ‘switch off ‘your brain or thoughts;
• Having difficulties concentrating because your thoughts jump from one thing to another.
• Feeling pain and tightness in your chest area;
• Your heart races and pounds or misses beats;
• Experiencing churning and butterflies in your stomach. You might also have indigestion or no appetite as you feel like your stomach has shrunk;
• You might also have to go to the toilet very often, either to urinate or because of diarrhoea;
• Your muscles may feel tense or ache, while you might also experience tingling or numbness in your feet or hands;
• Your breathing is fast;
• Feeling at times dizzy and light-headed;
• You might be more susceptible to physical illnesses due to compromised anxiety.
• You tend to avoid situations where you feel anxious;
• You become isolated or withdraw socially;
• Acting impatient and restless;
• Acting irritable and angry;
• You tend to eat less (or more);
• Drinking more alcohol or taking recreational drugs as a way to self-medicate and cope;
• Finding it difficult to finish jobs that you have to do;
• Finding it difficult to sleep at night.
If you are experiencing some or all of these symptoms over a prolonged period, it is likely that you are suffering from anxiety. Anxiety can take many forms; you might experience mild stress and anxiety that is related to a specific problem (e. g work, studies) or have developed a more persistent and generalised anxiety that affects all aspects of your life. Another form of anxiety is agoraphobia, where you find it difficult to visit public or crowded places, or sometimes, even to leave the house. Experiencing panic attacks is the most severe and debilitating form of anxiety. Panic attacks are sudden and short episodes of anxiety that primarily affect your body. You might experience rapid build-up of overwhelming physical sensations, such as, difficulty breathing, racing heartbeat, feeling nauseous and faint, shaking in your limbs or difficultly standing, sweating, fogy brain, potentially feeling as though you are going to die, faint, have a heart attack or lose control of yourself. A panic attack can be a very scary experience, and it is this intense fear that is attached to the experience that unfortunately sustains and perpetuates it.
How I can help you heal and overcome anxiety and panic attacks
If you are affected by anxiety or panic attacks, I want to reassure you that you have come to the right place to find help. I have a particular interest and expertise in anxiety and panic attacks that has been primarily cultivated by my own experience of suffering from anxiety and debilitating panic attacks in my early 20s. During that period, I managed to heal and overcome my anxiety problems by trying and testing all the available methods. Consequently, when I came to study psychology and psychotherapy, I studied anxiety problems meticulously and trained in the most effective approaches to overcome this condition. The result of this personal and professional journey into anxiety has been the development of a tried and tested program that has helped many people throughout the years to overcome anxiety and panic attacks. The uniqueness of my program is that it is holistic, in the sense that it works deeply and effectively both in the mind and body and at the same time, it helps to alleviate not only the symptoms but most importantly the causes of your anxiety. At the moment, I am writing a book called ‘The End of Anxiety ‘where I endeavour to make the program available to as many people as possible.
The starting point of my approach is to help you as soon as possible to decrease the severity of the anxiety/panic symptoms so that you can engage fully with the recovery program. We will then conduct an assessment to find out what type of anxiety you suffer from, while we will also attempt to identify the causes. A very important next step will be for you to learn about your anxiety so as to demystify its symptoms, so it becomes a less ‘scary ‘experience, while at the same time helping you to understand that you have the power to heal.
Following this, we will work together to create a program of recovery and healing that is unique to your circumstances; a program that you will implement in your daily life. In general, the program will include:
• A combination of psychotherapies such as CBT and EFT, which will address both your thoughts and emotions and will give you unique insight regarding the causes of your anxiety;
• Guided imagery techniques (such as hypnosis) to target the deep-seated emotional part of your brain where anxiety resides;
• Relaxation methods, such as deep breathing and yoga for anxiety, in order to activate the parasympathetic part of your nervous system and help your body to ‘switch on ‘ its self-healing mechanism;
• Physical exercises specifically suited to your anxiety problem that will aide relaxation and assist with healing;
• Meditations specifically designed to help you alleviate day-to-day stresses and, most importantly, to ‘rewire ‘your brain to achieve a calmer state.
The above program will not only help you to overcome your anxiety and panic attacks but will also help you to develop habits and equip you with methods that will enhance your overall resilience to stress and anxiety for the rest of your life. It is also important to know that in this journey to healing yourself from anxiety and panic attacks, I will stand by your side, guiding you with great compassion, care and knowledge. You do not need to continue to suffer on your own; please get in touch so we can start working together to help you end your anxiety and panic attacks. I offer anxiety psychotherapy and counselling in Edinburgh and online.
I look forward to helping you heal.