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What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a very common human emotion which comes from an experience that one is in a dangerous situation. In this sense anxiety has evolutionary value as it is an important emotion that alerts to danger and threat in the environment. When individuals suffer from anxiety their experience of fear becomes overgeneralised as they begin to experience that in reality are not threatening to them as posing a significant threat.

If you suffer from an anxiety disorder you might find yourself unable to stop worrying and being in a state of heightened stress most of the time. This can become an all consuming experience taking over your life.

There are various types of anxiety as listed below:

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) – If you suffer from GAD you are likely to feel anxious about most things and in most situations rather than have a specific focus for your worries. This could have an effect on your concentration, sleep and appetite and is likely to be an obstacle to being able to live your life as you would like.

Panic disorder – If you suffer from panic disorder you might find yourself experiencing intense panic and this could be in relation to specific situations or more generalised. Over time people who suffer from panic attacks become anxious about experiencing another panic attack so the focus of anxiety becomes the anticipation of anxiety. Panic disorder often involves physical symptoms of anxiety such as palpitations, dizziness, sweating and others.

Other forms of anxiety are health anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Treatment for anxiety

In the short term anxiety can be regulated through medication. If you require pharmacological treatment for your anxiety, the next step will be an assessment for a psychiatric review. In the long term the most effective treatments for anxiety are psychological and the approaches with the best evidence are acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). The emphasis on these treatments is on the individual’s thinking and how this influences their experiences of anxiety, behaviours that might maintain anxiety and the acquisition of new skills including mindfulness.

The psychologists at The Chelsea Psychology Clinic are highly trained in therapies for the treatment of anxiety and will recommend the most suitable approach for you depending on their assessment of your difficulties.

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