It is safe to say that nearly everyone has experienced anxiety whether it be test anxiety through to a full panic attack. It is fear laden and complex. The person’s focus becomes geared towards some future fear be it fear of failure, fear of disappointing others, fear of abandonment, fear of the unknown.
Anxiety manifests itself in different ways. It can be in the form of repetitive thoughts that do not allow you to sleep restfully, finding yourself laying awake trying to shut down the review of the accounts of the day. Anxiety is also tied into jealousy which in our social media age, runs rampant. Physically, it contributes to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and fibromyalgia to name a couple.
Now that we’ve laid the groundwork for what anxiety may look like, let’s focus on what it feels like. Some describe this disorder as nervousness or a flutter in their stomach. Common symptoms of a panic disorder are racing heart, sweating, feeling faint or light headed, gastric upset, intense sense of doom that is unavoidable and will happen at any moment. These are just a few symptoms of what it feels like.
Treatment for Anxiety
It is first important to understand that thoughts lead to emotions and actions. When one comes from a history of trauma whether it be psychological, physical, or sexual abuse, you become “primed” to enter the fight, flight, or freeze response. This response was closely linked to survival in the caveman era where it helped us elude danger. This can lead you to feel out of control and not understand why you are feeling overwhelmed. Whether you suffer from transient, sporadic anxiety or feel that it is severe enough to hinder your ability to function in different aspects of your life, please note that there is help.
One of the techniques used to treat anxiety is in the value of recording one’s thoughts. When you begin to feel anxious, write down what thoughts you are experiencing. This is important to identify what “triggers” anxiety attacks/panic attacks. With your psychologist, you then review these thoughts and look for themes linking the thoughts. It allows us to identify faulty beliefs/cognitive distortions that contribute to and maintain the anxiety and by correcting them, allows us to ameliorate the symptoms.
Anxiety can also be treated through meditation, mindfulness, guided imagery, and hypnosis. As you can see there are skills that are taught to combat anxiety that interferes with goal attainment and hinders your ability to be your best self.