There are a number of reasons why some people suffer from excessive anxiety, but in many cases, anxiety begins at a young age and develops, through repetition, into a habit. Often unhelpful patterns of thinking and dealing with emotions are learned from our parents and other adults.
Essentially, anxiety is created and reinforced when we resist experiencing our emotions. For example, if we are afraid of experiencing anger, then whenever any hint of anger arises in our minds we will try and push it away, and this produces a strong sense of anxiety. Each time this happens, we creates a pattern or habit in our mind, so that whenever the feeling of anger arises, we are likely to resist it and will experience anxiety instead.
Have you ever wondered why the same problems keep cropping up in your relationships? Or why it is that some people get into healthy relationships but it never seems to happen for you? It may be to do with the attachment style you learnt as a child.
Given the option, most of us would generally prefer not to feel pain. That is the way it is meant to be.
When we are functioning well, we experience a flow of emotion within a tolerable range and we feel balanced, well, socially engaged, and able to cope. We have systems in place to maintain such a state, which is optimal for our survival and functioning. Spending too much time in a hyper- or hypoaroused state (outside of this “Window of Tolerance”) is detrimental to our physical and mental health, and can even result in death.
In the natural way of things, a child learns to regulate his emotions through his attachment to his primary carer, usually his mother. When he experiences distress or pain, he runs to his mother, and in finding comfort, his distress will subside. Through this natural cycle, repeated over a period of time, a child learns that he can experience pain, but not be overwhelmed by it. He gains the tools to comfort himself and regain his equilibrium. Conversely, if the mother is for some reason not attuned to the child or is unavailable to meet his needs, the child experiences emotional abandonment. If this happens frequently, the child’s ability to regulate his emotions will be limited and this may lead to relationship difficulties later in life. [Read more…]
Depression and anxiety are the most common forms of mental distress in the UK. Because these conditions impact so much on the lives of sufferers and their families, it is understandable that many people seek a quick fix that will get them back to normal as quickly as possible. Antidepressants seem to offer this possibility; however, recent research shows that antidepressants may not be as effective as previously thought, especially in cases of mild depression. The Royal College of Psychiatry estimates that between 50% and 65% of people treated with an antidepressant for depression will benefit. Furthermore, according to a Canadian researcher, Dr Paul Andrews, individuals who take antidepressants can be nearly twice as susceptible to future episodes of major depression than those who don’t.
People in England with mild to moderate mental health concerns, including panic attacks, anxiety and depression, are to be prescribed self-help books which they can borrow from their local library. The Books on Prescription scheme, developed by the Reading Agency charity, is being rolled out across GPs’ surgeries and libraries in England in May.
Mobile apps for your iPhone can be very helpful in tracking emotions, moods and thoughts between counselling sessions, providing helpful material to work with and helping you to identify patterns and triggers. They can also help you to soothe your emotions and can even help you to get to sleep!
If you struggle with anxiety and/or depression, you are probably finding it difficult to get out of your head. You analyse relationships, replay the events of the day and beat yourself up about what you could have or should have done differently, you worry about the future and endlessly churn over various scenarios…Sound familiar?
Maybe at some level you know that all this thinking is a futile activity, but you just don’t know how to stop! Mindfulness meditation helps you to find the “off” switch and get some relief from the endless inner dialogue.
Do you berate yourself for feeling anxious in situations where other people seem to feel at ease? Have you felt judged for being particularly sensitive?
The truth is that feeling unsafe is simply the body’s response to the environment and is largely involuntary, as are the behaviours that result from it.