Stress and anxiety are really two names for the same thing. Everybody experiences stress, which is a natural, and very necessary, part of life. It is a function of our innate response to risk or danger, our survival instincts. You have probably heard about the “fight, flight or freeze” response – that is stress in action and it is designed to keep us alive. However, when stress or anxiety dominate your day-to-day life, prevent you from doing things you want to do, or cause you to feel unwell or ill at ease on a regular basis, you may feel very stuck.
Some people find that they become anxious only in certain situations, and it can feel like uncontrollable fear. Some people feel a degree of anxiety a lot of the time, or it keeps them awake at night, with apparently endless negative thoughts. Some people have even been told by their doctors that a chronic health or physical problem may be due to ‘stress’ – which can leave them feeling helpless and powerless to know how to feel better.
Thankfully, there are ways to better manage and deal with stress and anxiety, when you know the right tools. Talking about the sources of your anxiety with a professional therapist can also go a long way towards alleviating some of its effects. With the right skills and support, most people discover that they ARE able to reduce their levels of stress and anxiety and its physical effects.
Panic attacks are a form of anxiety that can have a sudden, and very unexpected onset. They can be extremely debilitating for those who experience them. Once someone has experienced a panic attack, they can sometimes develop a fear of it recurring, which in itself causes heightened anxiety – which can bring on more panic attacks. Although a panic attack can be an extremely frightening thing to experience, there are simple ways of reducing their effects and duration and preventing their recurrence.
Sometimes anxiety can manifest itself physically –common symptoms are headaches, backaches, abdominal pains, digestive problems, breathlessness or breathing difficulties, increased heart rate, excess sweating, flushing or blushing, weight gain or loss. If anxiety or stress are causing you health problems, so long as your doctor has not found any physical cause, with the right support you can start to do something about it.
The aim of therapy is to help you to understand the sources of your stress and why it has developed, to reframe your life in more positive ways and to be able to cope with the challenges that life throws at you. Stress-related physical problems can usually be alleviated or in some cases eliminated.
Low mood is a type of mild depression that can be difficult to shake off, however severe or clinical depression is a very serious condition and sufferers should always first seek medical advice. Episodic depression can be triggered off by stressful life events, with bereavement, divorce or separation, redundancy, illness, life uncertainty and becoming a parent being common factors. Therapy can provide an outlet for you to share or explore your feelings and experiences, which can help to reduce the effects of depression and help you to focus on the more positive aspects of life. If depression is linked to past life events, therapy can provide space and time to share and explore your story and help you to make sense of it in ways that can help you to move forward with your life.
“Everything is going really well […] we are moving house in the next couple of weeks […] I haven’t been feeling overly anxious with all that’s going on so I’m happy […] I just want to say thank you so much for everything you have helped me with, it has been invaluable.” Female client, 25, anxiety and flushing
“[…] This time to help with the stress and pressures brought about by being involved with a small family business, which were reaching breaking point. Thanks to you, after just a few sessions, I now feel far more positive about handling situations and more able to cope with the stress. I also feel free of the negative emotions that were preventing me from reaching my goals.” Male client, stress and behavioural issues