What is anxiety? - My Mind Matters

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What is anxiety? - My Mind Matters

Every day, teachers and their colleagues in furtherand higher education contact us to talk about theanxiety they face both in their work and in theirpersonal lives.Teachers like Charlotte*, who told us she feltanxious, out of her depth and totally overwhelmedby the reality of the job, so much so that she isconsumed by worry and unable to work.Or lecturers like Janet*, who after 13 years ofworking in FE has been signed off work with stress,but feels so guilty that she is unable to leave thehouse.Yet what is anxiety? How much do we, as staff ineducation, really know about anxiety and how totreat it? This self help guide from Anxiety UK looks athow anxiety develops and explains the physical,psychological and behavioural symptoms associatedwith anxiety. There is guidance on the managementand treatment of anxiety and crucially details onwhere you can get support.Get support:08000 562 56108000 855 088 (Wales)www.teachersupport.info0808 802 03 04www.recourse.org.uk*based on real calls


felt at one time in the heat of an anxiety attack thatwe were going to die (or go mad for that matter),you can rest assured that this will not happen.However, in the same vein, just as it has taken sometime for your anxiety condition to manifest itself, itwill also take some time to treat and you and othersmust therefore be patient.Most people find that the path to recovery involves alot of soul searching and the removal of excessbaggage, so to speak. You may find that in order toget better, you have to completely change yourlifestyle and even lose a few acquaintances along theway. However, what I can say for certain is that youwill emerge a much better person and will haveprogressed considerably in terms of your ownpersonal development.We hope the following pages help to unravel themystery of anxiety and expose it for what it really is –just another emotion.Best wishesNicky LidbetterChief ExecutiveAnxiety UK5


What is anxiety?Anxiety is the feeling you have when you think thatsomething unpleasant is going to happen in thefuture. Other words such as feeling ‘apprehensive’,‘uncertain’, ‘nervous’ and ‘on edge’ also provide agood description of feelings linked to anxiety.Anxiety is completely normal and something that allhuman beings experience from time to time, whenfaced with situations that are difficult or threatening.The word ‘anxietyis often used to cover a broadrange of experiences and is linked with emotionssuch as fear and worry. In fact, ‘fear’ and ‘anxiety’ arealmost interchangeable terms.Anxiety itself can be a helpful emotion, as it can helpyou to prepare for events ahead as well as improvingyour performance. However, anxiety can become sosevere and intense at times that it becomesdebilitating and starts to restrict daily routine and lifeas a whole. In essence, at this point, the anxietyexperienced has got out of proportion and you endup feeling much more anxious than you wouldexpect someone else to be in your circumstances.At this point, you can be said to be suffering froman anxiety disorder. There are many different anxietydisorders (phobias, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder -OCD - panic attacks, etc) that all have anxietysymptoms at their core.6


What causes anxiety?Some people seem to be born with a tendency to beanxious and indeed recent research suggests that arisk for certain forms of anxiety disorders can beinherited.Other people develop anxiety disorders after havingexperienced specific traumatic, stressful incidents orevents in their life – for example, divorce,bereavement, starting a new job, moving house, etc.Anxiety disorders can also be ‘learnt’ - for example,you can become anxious after seeing someone elseacting in an anxious way. Usually this happens whenchildren see their parent/significant adult in their lifebeing scared of something - for example, spiders.With time, the child also develops a fear of spidersand ‘learns’ this anxious behaviour. However, formany people there is no obvious trigger for theiranxiety and it is just something that they develop.The next section of this guide goes into further detailabout the causes of anxiety.7


How did I developanxiety?Life Strains – ‘the stresses of life’Often people find it very hard to understand justwhere their anxiety came from because there is notalways an obvious trigger. However, in ourexperience, we have found that the majority ofpeople develop anxiety after having been under‘stress’ for a period of time, and that there is notnecessarily a specific trigger. You may have sufferedlots of minor stresses, which in themselves seemsmall. However, accumulated together they amountto quite significant stress. Think back over the pastyears - what have you been through? I know formyself, the trigger for my experience with anxietybegan with being burgled; three months later my carwas stolen. I then began work in an isolatedenvironment away from family and friends. I thought Ihad dealt with these setbacks successfully at the timeof their occurrence. However, it was six months laterthat I began to experience panic attacks– almost adelayed reaction to stress. You do not even have tohave suffered stressful, distinct events to experienceanxiety. It may be, for example, that you have had anunpleasant boss at work to cope with over manyyears and the stress and stain of this relationship hasgradually worn you down. This type of stress is called‘life strain’. Another example may be living constantlyon the breadline: deprivation is a well-known factorin a person’s predisposition to anxiety.8


Sometimes there is confusion over the source ofanxiety. For example, we have known manysuccessful businessmen (accustomed to flyingregularly) to suddenly experience an anxiety attackduring a flight. They then develop what they believeis a fear of flying. What is important is to distinguisha true fear of flying from an anxiety attack which justhappened to take place whilst on a plane. In thesecases, more often than not, the person concernedwill have been considerably stressed for a period oftime. This stress/anxiety unfortunately came to ahead whilst that person was flying and ‘two and twowere put together to make five’.This scenario can be extended to encompass otherspecific fears; I know myself when I first startedhaving panic attacks, one of the first places I had onewas whilst stuck in a huge traffic jam. From thereonwards, I made a conscious effort to avoid any roadwhere I thought there was a potential for a jam. Yousee, what I did was make the mistake of associatingthe places where I had anxiety attacks as being thecauses of the attacks. I now know that the places andsituations were largely irrelevant and it was how I feltinside that fed the fear. I had become frightened ofthe anxiety attacks and had started to live in ‘fear offear’ – a phrase you may have seen in many a selfhelpbook!9


Specific stressful eventsIf you feel you have not been particularly ‘stressedout’ over the past year or so, it may be that anxietystarted after a specific incident, known as a ‘trigger’.This is also a very common reason for developinganxiety. We have found that people are more likelyto suffer anxiety disorders after experiencing any ofthe following: bereavement, divorce, moving house,surgery, illness and violence. There are other triggersof course but these are typical and frequent ones. Ifyou have developed a more ‘specific’ phobia, such asclaustrophobia, you may have been stuck in a lift oron the underground and it is therefore probable thatthis triggered your current anxiety. Think back againto events that have occurred over the past fewmonths now. Have you experienced anything whichcaused you considerable anguish at the time?Having said this, some people who experienced aparticularly traumatic incident during their childhoodfind that their ‘experience’ stays with them intoadulthood, although they may have consciouslyforgotten it. For example, a child who was frightenedduring a thunderstorm may grow into an adult withan irrational fear of storms. Anxiety which is causedby specific triggers usually starts very soon after thetrigger and so is more easily traced to its source. Forexample, a bad flight may lead immediately toanxiety about further air travel, and a traumaticexperience at the dentist may lead to dental phobia.Social conditioningFinally, you may be in our last category in terms ofhow you developed your anxiety condition. Some10


people almost seem to ‘learn’ their anxiety from afamily member or friend. How often do you hear thata person who is frightened of spiders also has aparent who is frightened? Sometimes when we arechildren we subconsciously pick up other peoples’fears. This is because we believe that adults knowbest. If your mother is frightened of spiders, thismeans to you as a child that spiders are dangerousand you should keep away from them. Perhaps youcan trace your fear back to childhood and accountfor it in this way.It is probably worth saying that if you feel you needto spend some more time looking back andreflecting over your life then it may be an idea toseek counselling. There are various types ofcounselling, ranging from person-centred counselling– an approach which is very much about you makingdecisions for yourself with the counsellor acting as aguide - through to psychodynamic/psychoanalyticaltherapy which is, as its name suggests, moreanalytical in nature. Counselling is often availablethrough the NHS and there are other organisationsthat offer counselling at reasonable rates or in somecases at no charge. If you are thinking about seeing acounsellor privately, we recommend you contact theBritish Association for Counselling andPsychotherapy (BACP) – their number is at the backof this book. We also have our own in-housecounselling service with counsellors available atvarious locations throughout the UK. Additionally weare also able to offer counselling by telephone andalso webcam.11


Understanding anxietySo you’ve spent some time thinking back over yourlife in an attempt to try and identify the source ofyour anxiety. Don’t worry if you feel you still cannotwork out where your problem came from. Manypeople are of the opinion that even if you know thesource of anxiety and how it came about, this is oflittle use when attempting to deal with the presentproblems that you are facing.In order to understand anxiety and begin to controlit, it is useful to separate anxiety into three separateaspects as follows:Physical Psychological BehaviouralPhysical aspects of anxietyWhen you are put into an anxiety-provokingsituation, an automatic chain of events begins, oftenknown as the ‘fight or flight’ response. This responsehappens without us thinking about it because it istriggered by the part of our nervous system whosejob it is to control our automatic functions (e.g.breathing, heart beat, etc). This part of our nervoussystem is called the ‘autonomic system’ and is splitinto two components: the parasympathetic and thesympathetic systems. These work opposite eachother and only one can dominate at a time. When weare in any situation that causes us anxiety, oursympathetic system starts to dominate and the ‘fightor flight’ reaction begins (sometimes also known asthe ‘adrenaline cascade’).12


The below shows a diagram to illustrate whathappens once the sympathetic system is switched on:The hormone adrenaline is released into thebloodstream.The heart beats faster in order to pump bloodquickly around the body to supply the muscleswith energy to enable them to become preparedfor ‘fight or flight’Blood is diverted away from areas of the bodywhere it is not needed – for example, away from thestomach. This is why we frequently experience achurning sensation in the stomach or a ‘butterflies’feeling when anxious.The heart now pumps more forcibly, which isassociated with a rise in blood pressure. It is thisrise in blood pressure that makes us feel lightheadedand dizzy.The state of arousal also leads to a rise intemperature. Your body reacts by trying tocool you down – this is why you perspire.13


This system is designed to serve us when we are inreal danger. The problem is those of us with anxietyhave our system ‘turned on’ when we don’t reallyneed it because we are not in a life-threateningsituation. We feel even worse when this cascade ofevents is switched on for no apparent reason.I experienced this myself after having suffered amonth or so of panic attacks. Suddenly, I startedhaving the attacks for no reason. I would bewatching television, relaxing, when one would hit mefull on. I worried even more, like many people,because now I was feeling fearful for no obviousreason. What I now know is that my worrying aboutthe panic attacks coming out of the blue actuallyserved to increase my overall general levels oftension and anxiety. So my threshold for panicdecreased considerably – with the consequence ofthis being that even small things could set me off.It is probably useful for you to see a list of some ofthe physical symptoms of anxiety at this stagebecause these symptoms are not in your head; theyare very real and are caused by the adrenalinerelease:Butterflies in the stomach feeling, shortness ofbreath, headaches, dizziness, hot flushes, increasedheartbeat, increased perspiration, dry mouth, tightband across chest area, wanting to use the toiletmore often, feeling sick, shaking, chokingsensation, palpitations, etc.None of these symptoms are pleasant so it is quiteunderstandable for people to wish to avoid them.However, avoidance only serves to reinforce ourfears, as you will read later.14


Commonly, some of the physical symptomsexperienced by people when in the midst of ananxiety attack and which are then subsequentlymisinterpreted include a rapid heartbeat beinginterpreted as a sign of an impending heart attack,and butterflies in the stomach being thought of asbeing a sign that vomiting might occur.Indeed over the years we have been contacted bymany people who have told us that they have had torush off to casualty because they truly believed theywere having a heart attack. Once there, they weretold (sometimes after many medical tests), that theirproblem was entirely psychological. I had a friendwho was driving home from university one night on amotorway, who experienced a panic attack. He wasso frightened that he drove frantically to the nextturn off and rushed into a cafe saying he was dying.Of course the woman on the till didn’t know hewasn’t and so called an ambulance. Four hours later,after exhaustive medical tests, my friend was left ona side ward blowing into a paper bag! There wasnothing physically wrong with him. Instead, he wasresponding to the physical symptoms of his anxiety –misinterpreting the rapid heartbeat that goes hand inhand with anxiety as a sign of something beingterribly wrong with his heart. This is a generalisation,but over the years that Anxiety UK has been inoperation it does appear that women generally seemto be more concerned about being sick, whilst menfocus more on the physical symptoms of anxiety thataffect the heart. As a woman, being sick (or theworry that I might be sick) was a big issue for me.I don’t know why it was really. I can only assume thatsomewhere in my mind I had this belief that beingsick was very socially unacceptable and certainly not15


something a woman should do in public. Lookingback there seemed to be some shame attached tobeing sick in public. Indeed it was only afterexperiencing severe bouts of morning sickness inboth of my pregnancies that I learnt to accept thatthere are worse things to do than to be sick on thestreet!There are of course other physical symptoms thatbother people such as profuse sweating, shaking,blushing, etc. We have found that these physiologicalsymptoms of anxiety in particular seem to causedistress to those with social phobia – an anxietycondition where people worry that their anxiety isnoticeable to others.I should point out that although in most cases thephysical symptoms experienced during anxietyattacks are largely accounted for by anxiety, it isalways important to see your GP first just to discountother medical conditions such as thyroid disorder,perimenopausal symptoms, etc.Psychological aspects of anxietyAdrenaline also affects us psychologically byaffecting the way we feel and think by producing(usually) a feeling of FEAR. In addition to preparingthe body for physical action, adrenaline alsopsychologically motivates us into doing somethingabout the situation that has caused this immenseadrenaline release to occur. The psychologicalsymptoms can also be described as what you think,feel and say to yourself when you are anxious.16


This is a list of common thoughts and feelings felt bypeople when they are anxious:• Feeling frightened and panicky• Thinking that you might lose controland/or go ‘mad’• Thinking that you might die• Thinking that you might have a heart attack/ have abrain tumour• Thinking that you might be sick/faint/embarrassyourself• Feeling that people are looking at you andobserving your anxiety• Feeling generally as if things are speeding up• Feeling detached from your environment and thepeople in it• Feeling like wanting to run away/escape from thesituation• Feeling on edge17


It can be helpful to try to write down what you feeland think when you next experience an anxietyattack. Alternatively you might wish to enter thisinformation into your mobile phone so that you cancapture the thoughts as they occur. It is likely thatyou will be experiencing the same thoughts andfeelings, or a variation on them, every time youexperience panic/anxiety – most people do. Whatyou will find is that your thoughts are nearly alwaysnegative and that you have got into a pattern ofthinking whereby you believe that the worst is goingto happen. Likewise, you will probably tend tocatastrophise events when you look back on ananxiety attack and get things out of all proportion –seeing things in black or white not shades of grey.As well as feeling fearful and panicky, you willprobably also be worrying about what is happeningto you and may automatically start thinking theworse. These thoughts only serve to worsen theinitial anxiety and feed the adrenaline response. It isquite possible to trigger off an anxiety attack simplyby thinking about anxiety symptoms. Many peoplemake the mistake of anticipating what they will feellike in a situation before they even get there. This‘anticipatory anxiety’, apart from usually being muchworse than the event itself, only serves to prime thebody to experience ‘panic’. This explains why thoseof us who are agoraphobic would not be able to goon a day out that was planned some time in advanceand yet may be able to go out on the spur of themoment. Most people with anxiety loatheappointments and hate being forced into a corner.18


Advance notice for those with anxiety can equate toweeks of anticipatory anxiety and negative thoughts.You may find it helpful when thinking back to yourlast bout of anxiety, what it was that you wereactually scared of. However, this is sometimes easiersaid than done and you may need help with this –later in this guide we give ideas about where to gethelp.Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been shownto be very useful in the treatment of anxiety. The‘cognitive’ element of CBT specifically treats faultythought patterns that you may have developed as aresult of living with anxiety. Your GP can refer you tosee a CBT practitioner or you can find out aboutprivately practising practitioners and other helpfulinformation through the British Association forBehavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)– their address is at the back of this book. AnxietyUK also has its own in-house team of CBTpractitioners whom you can see in a face to facecapacity. Alternatively, CBT is available throughAnxiety UK over the telephone and via web cam.19


Behavioural aspects of anxietyThese symptoms are what we DO when we areanxious – i.e. our response to our thoughts, feelingsand physical symptoms. The most commonbehavioural symptom of anxiety is avoidance. Howmany times have you simply avoided putting yourselfinto a situation where you have previously feltanxious? For those of you who haven’t avoidedsituations, DON’T! Avoidance only serves to reinforcethe message of danger and whilst it may seem tofeel the best thing to do at the time, it really is only ashort-term solution. Likewise, many an anxiousperson has escaped a situation where they start tofeel anxiety. I have found through my ownexperience that when I ran away from anywhere, itwas always twice as hard ever going back there. Eventhough it is hard to stay somewhere when you feelabsolutely terrible, do your best to resist the urge toflee. This doesn’t mean you have to sit through hell –you can always go for a walk, refresh yourself in thebathroom – but it does mean staying put until theanxiety subsides, and it will.Think back over the past week, and identify anyavoidance behaviour you may have carried out. Someexamples of avoidance behaviours are given below:Taking taxis instead of using public transport orwalking.Making excuses in order to avoid going out withfamily and friends.Sitting at the end of a row in theatres or cinemas.20


Avoiding going out alone; always taking someonewith you.Rushing out of situations where you feel anxious.Only shopping when it is quiet.Using minor roads to avoid busier ones and heavytraffic.Crossing the street to avoid people.If you have already started to avoid certain places,doing specific things, don’t worry, you can still helpyourself. The best way to do this is to set yourselfsmall targets, ones that you will easily achieve, toallow you to gradually face up to the situationcausing you anxiety. This method is called ‘systematicdesensitisation’, or ‘behavioural desensitisation’because it involves gradually exposing yourself to thesituation that causes you distress. It is possible topractice this on your own, although some people feelthey need to seek guidance from a professional.In this case, I would advise you to go to your GP andask him/her to refer you to see a behavioural nursetherapist or clinical psychologist who will be able tohelp you further. If you don’t want your GP to know,or to be involved with your treatment, you can see apsychologist privately. To find a psychologist, AnxietyUK advises contacting the British PsychologicalSociety (BPS). Their contact details are at the backof this book.21


If you feel strong enough to embark on a programmeof desensitisation alone, then it is a good idea towrite down a hierarchy of tasks that you would like toset for yourself to complete over a period of time.The first task on the list should be something thatyou would find relatively easy to do and the last tasksomething that you would not contemplate atpresent but would very much like to do, if you didn’thave anxiety. My list at the time looked somethinglike this:1. Go to the post box four doors away.2. Go to the corner shop.3. Stand in the post office queuewhen quiet.4. Stand in the post office queuewhen busy.5. Go to the supermarket.6. Do all the above in sequence but alone.7. Do all the above in sequence but walk,not take the car.8. Go into local shopping mall.9. Go into Manchester city centre.10. Go beyond Manchester city centre.22


It is important to set yourself small tasks at thebeginning which are easily achieved. If you giveyourself things to do that are too hard at first andtoo big a step to take, you will only set yourself up tofail. Of course, just doing the above alone is rarelyenough. You will also need to practice relaxation,adopt positive thinking and other anxietymanagement techniques in order to be able to bereally successful and to stay on that all important‘road to recovery’.23


Personal experiencesof anxietyI felt it would be helpful in this section to give youthe opportunity to read other peoples’ experiencesof anxiety because anxiety comes in many differentshapes and forms. As you’ll see, anxiety affectspeople in so many varied ways and so everyoneconsequently develops their own style of coping:Living with agoraphobia and a fearof being aloneI have had agoraphobia and monophobia (fear ofbeing alone) for the past 10 years. My problemsdeveloped after lots of little things went wrongin my life: my car was stolen, I had my houseburgled twice and I was working in a job that Ididn’t particularly enjoy. All this led to mehaving severe attacks of panic and generallyfeeling very anxious and on-edge. The panicattacks were so scary that I ended up positivelyseeking to avoid the places where I had hadthem at the beginning and before long I couldhardly go anywhere alone for fear of having apanic attack. At the same time, my travellingability became severely restricted to placeswhere I felt escape was easy and places whichwere not too far from home (agoraphobia). Atthe time I very much relied on my partner; hewas the one person who helped me through thisvery hard time. Unfortunately, however, Iquickly became dependent on him and developeda fear of being alone. In my case this centred onneeding to know where my partner was at any24


time just in case I had a panic. Because of theagoraphobia and monophobia, my life hasinevitably been quite restricted, although I amdetermined not to let anxiety ruin myenjoyment of life and continue to work hard atovercoming these problems.Living with social phobiaI did not realise that I had social phobia untilabout 2 or 3 years ago. I had joined Anxiety UKand sent off for some of the factsheets, includingthe one on social phobia. In a way, reading theinformation was a huge relief as it describedperfectly how I had felt since my early teens.Since the age of about 14, I had suffered severedepression which was not diagnosed until myearly 20s. I frequently had suicidal thoughtsand constantly felt worthless and unlovable.I believe that this was triggered by persistentverbal bullying which became worse when Iattended secondary school. I had no friends anddespite later going to university, I felt verydepressed and withdrawn. Because of the wayI felt and behaved my peers at school anduniversity picked on me even more. Most of thebullying was about my physical appearance andpeople were constantly telling me how ugly Iwas. This affected me so much that even now atthe age of 31, I feel extremely self-consciousabout how I look and am paranoid that peopleare staring at me because of my appearance. Thebullying also made be blush a lot – somethingwhich I still suffer from.25


I have found living with social anxiety verydebilitating. For a long time I could not copewith leaving my home or doing anything thatinvolved being around other people. Things likegetting on a bus, going shopping or walking tothe post box would cause me distress and Iwould feel completely depressed afterwards.I think the worst thing about living with socialanxiety is that it often leaves the suffererisolated and others around them may just thinkthey are ‘shy’ and don’t have any idea of whatthey are going through.I think the root of social anxiety and thedepression and anxiety that often go with it islow self-esteem. Trying to improve my selfesteemhas been an ongoing battle for me and Ihave trouble being around people, trustingpeople and forming relationships because I amworried that people will not like me, or becritical. I also get very stressed in socialsituations such as going to the pub, eating out,or being around others. Most of the time I amaware that I feel very self-conscious and I worrythat people will notice this, and judge me for it.In the past, people have always made me feelthat being nervous or lacking in confidence wasa weakness, something which I still believe.I think social anxiety is something that I willalways have to deal with, partly because of mylife experiences but also because I believe thereis a genetic factor and that some people arepredisposed to negative thinking and aretherefore more likely to develop depressionor social anxiety.26


Although I have not been able to work for thepast few years, I have gradually built up a smallnetwork of friends who are accepting andsupportive. Antidepressants have significantlyreduced my depression and I have also foundthat CBT has helped me a lotLiving with claustrophobia and panic attacksI have been claustrophobic since I was in mymid twenties (over 40 years). The most severereaction usually occurs when travelling bycoach, train, underground, etc. In fact, I can nolonger cope with the latter. If the compartmenton a coach or train is cool, well ventilated orair-conditioned and not too crowded, I can justabout cope. Just the thought of being trapped inthe underground with no escape route terrifiesme. As a matter of fact, even as I write thisI can feel the alarm bells ringing in my mindjust thinking about being trapped.During my career I was at times called upon tocrawl through and examine extremely confinedspaces in water storage tanks, etc. As aprecaution, one had to wear self-containedbreathing apparatus and carry a torch as thespaces were completely dark and often like anobstacle course. Latterly I could no longer copewith this task. More recently, for medicalreasons, I needed a full body MRI scan whichentailed me being almost totally enclosed in atube. Once again, there was no way that I couldundergo this procedure due to claustrophobia.27


Here are some general remarks with regard to mycondition of claustrophobia:• Heat triggers the phobic reaction, as doesovercrowding and lack of ventilation.• I always have windows open at home – winterand summer, day and night.• I need to sit close to the aisles in theatres, etc.• I can even feel panicky putting on a sweaterif it gets stuck on my head, covering my face.• I have great difficulty lying face down for anyreason and can only cope for a minute or so.• I get into a panic if my nose is blocked andbreathing is difficult, especially if this occurs inbed at night.• I absolutely dread being in confined spaces ofany kind.• I cannot watch such things as the ‘Hillsboroughdisaster’ or mining disasters, etc on TV as seeingsuch scenes sets off the cycle of panic.28


Finally, here are some coping aids which have helpedme over the years:• I always carry a small handheld fan with meif travelling by train or coach. This has provedinvaluable and has often allowed me to continuethe journey.• Hypnotherapy and relaxation tapes have beenvery useful.• Distraction tactics such as talking to someone orlistening to music on a train or coach are helpful.• Positive affirmations help a lot.• I always drink lots of water on a journey.• Deep breathing exercises reduce stress.• With regard to claustrophobia generally, I firmlybelieve that the power of positive thinking hashelped me greatly to cope with my condition andas a result, I am slowly improving.29


Living with health anxietyHaving always been an anxious child, it seemsquite inevitable that at 20 years old, moving inwith my partner, leaving college and startingfull-time employment, my anxiety disorderintroduced itself into my life.After an attack of irritable bowel syndrome,which was misdiagnosed as a seriouscondition and ended up with me in a hospitalbed, I subsequently developed illness phobia. Myphobia was so extreme that I went on to developan anxiety condition known as ‘health anxiety’.Each day I convinced myself that I was sufferingfrom a variety of terminal illnesses and I spentmy time checking my body for symptoms,desperately seeking reassurance from myrelatives and partner in order to calm me downfor 10 minutes, until a new illness would beginto obsess me.This negative chain of thought patternscontinued until it was decided by those aroundme that I needed professional help as I hadbecome a prisoner to these thoughts and my lifewas a daily nightmare. I began accessingtherapy and started taking medication in thevain hope that I would get better and resume anormal life.What I have learnt in dealing with thiscondition is that it is possible to control youranxiety and your thoughts. This is achieved bylearning as much as possible about yourself andabout your anxiety. Learning what triggers the30


anxiety is important and developing strategies toavoid the chain of events that follow this triggercan help to reduce the effects of the anxiety.I found CBT useful and something that I coulduse each day but it wasn’t enough in itself.Combined with CBT, distraction techniques,keeping my mind occupied and my body active,all contribute to a quality of life that at 20 yearsold I thought could not exist. There will betimes in my life when I will be affected by stressand the health anxiety and accompanyingthoughts might well be hard to control.However, I do take comfort in knowing thateverything I worked at and developedpreviously can be used again to overcome thisdebilitating disorder.Living with emetophobiaThat sound – the awful ‘scratching’ noise andthe mere thought of someone being sick. Thiswas the beginning of my phobia.It all started when I was about five years old.My sister Anna was being sick, not so muchviolently but she was being sick quite a lot. Icould only hear the sound of it but it caused meto sweat; my heart was beating ridiculously fastand I was crying uncontrollably. I ran to mymum but it was no good; she did not seem tounderstand why I was losing control. From thenon, I hated the look of Milk of Magnesia! Thatawful medicine made Anna throw up and mademe seem like a disturbed child with anirrational fear.31


The phobia did not stop there. I actively avoidedpeople who were ill. If someone was holding hisor her stomach, I would run a mile, just for fearof him or her possibly being sick. If anyonewould just as much as flinch or make some kindof movement like touch their throat, I wouldautomatically assume they would be sick. IfAnna were ill, I would avoid her like the plague.I could not handle the fact that she might besick anywhere near me. School trips werealways the worst. Some ‘horrible’ kid wouldalways be sick on the coach. I made sure I madefriends with those who did not have travelsickness!I actively watch what I eat so I am not sickmyself. It takes me back to when I was about12. I had this awful bug and everything I ateliterally came back up again. I would not evendescribe it as vomiting. It was a case of when Iate my food, like a reflex it would come back up.I hated those two weeks of my life. They werethe worst weeks and they seemed to last aneternity. I cried every day. When I was sick, Ifelt like a dirty, disgusting filthy human being. Ihated myself so much during that illness and Iprayed I would not be sick ever again!People would often say, “How can that be aphobia?” Being afraid of spiders was perfectlynormal but a fear of vomiting seemed irrational.However, I know that I must have had somesort of fear if it was causing lots of emotionalupset and distress.32


Today, I can say that I have not been sick forover 10 years! I am now 21 and I feel that I amin a way coping with it. It helps that I watchwhat I eat and thankfully whenever I have foodpoisoning, psychologically my body must know Ihate vomiting so it manifests itself in the otherway! The sound of someone being sick stillmakes my heart race like mad but I tell myself,“It’s only sick. It can’t kill me!” It is a fear andit is a phobia. I no longer see myself as crazybecause I now know that it is a genuine phobiaand thousands of people just like me exist.I am sure everyone must hate being sick but Iknow that this is not just the case of dislikingbeing sick; it is a genuine, crippling fear.Living with a specific phobia – fear of the windMy fear of the wind started in 1987 whenEngland had a hurricane. At the time I wasfeeling anxious for many different reasons - forexample, coping with a family bereavement - butbecause of the hurricane, my anxiety seemed toattach itself to that and I developed a severephobia of the wind.At first it was difficult for people to understandbecause wind is such an everyday occurrence.People thought I was attention-seeking or evenputting it on. As it progressed to the pointwhere I had to be dragged into school kickingand screaming on windy days, my parentsrealised that it was a real problem and thatsomething had to be done.33


I was referred to see a psychologist at hospitalbut because the waiting list was so long, theproblem progressed and it was no longer strongwinds that scared me but even the slightestwhisper would induce a panic attack.When I first saw the psychologist I found it veryhard. I remember her saying to me, “So howhigh are your anxiety levels?” and me thinking,“What’s anxiety?” I didn’t understand a lot ofthe things that she was saying to me but I keptgoing and things did get better.Thankfully I overcame my fear of the wind butI’ll never forget how horrible it was at the time.I just felt constant dread for about a year. Ibecame obsessed with watching weatherforecasts and even the slightest swaying of atree sent me into a blind panic. I would put myfingers in my ears and pillows over my head justto avoid any noise that the wind created.Although my psychologist did help me overcomemy phobia of the wind, I had underlying anxietyproblems that persisted into my adult life. Withhindsight, I probably should have been treatedfor overall anxiety rather than a specific phobia.Maybe if I had, I could have avoided theproblems that I now have.34


Management andtreatment of anxietyAs you will have seen from the personal accounts ofanxiety given, whilst the principles of anxiety are thesame, people are individuals and therefore finddifferent treatment combinations helpful when itcomes to the management of their anxiety.The National Institute for Health & ClinicalExcellence (NICE)NICE has produced a range of guidelines for variousanxiety conditions including the treatment andmanagement of anxiety which can be found at:www.nice.org.uk and which Anxiety UK stronglyrecommends anyone living with an anxiety disorderconsults. The guidelines set out the currentlyrecommended evidence based treatments that areavailable in the UK covering both psychologicaltherapies as well as medication.So now that we have looked at the three parts ofanxiety: the physical, psychological and behaviouralaspects, we shall look at methods of coping and howto control anxiety. There are various ways of tacklinganxiety – each being designed to deal with one ofthe three components:Generally, relaxation training is helpful in dealing withthe physical symptoms of anxiety. Thought-stoppingtechniques, distraction and therapies that help youlook at your thoughts and ways of thinking such asCBT are useful ways of tackling the psychological35


symptoms, and behavioural therapy (which I havealready described in some detail) is useful fortackling avoidance behaviour that you may havedeveloped along the way. You can use all ofthese techniques yourself and can practicethem alone without having to spend any money!Relaxation trainingRelaxation training is a technique that aims to reducephysical tension in the body that has built up as aresult of anxiety and involves practising specificexercises on a regular basis. There are variations onthe theme of relaxation but most centre on eachmuscle group of the body, alternating betweentensing and relaxing. When this is carried out on thewhole body, a person’s overall muscular tension willbe very much reduced. Relaxation training also helpsto lower the heart rate and blood pressure, and slowdown the rate of breathing. People also experience afeeling of ‘mental tranquillity’.Relaxation works by helping you to let go of anyanxiety that you have been holding onto. Most of uswith anxiety problems try and contain the anxiety byholding ourselves in a stiff, rigid way. We feel that ifwe let go, we might just panic. Unfortunately, thiscouldn’t be further from the truth. By remainingconstantly tense, we only add to the backgroundlevel of anxiety in our body and make it more likelyfor a panic attack to occur.Also, if you get yourself into a state of deeprelaxation before a situation that you feel will causeyou anxiety it will genuinely be harder for you to getworked up later on! The effects of deep relaxationlast several hours, sometimes days!36


Hypnotherapy utilises a range of relaxationtechniques and is very helpful in bringing about areduction in overall anxiety levels. Anxiety UK has arange of products available that are based on theprinciples of hypnotherapy and relaxation includingDVDs, CDs and other relaxation aids.Hyperventilation and Faulty BreathingIt is important to mention breathing at this point,because many people with anxiety tend to overbreathe,or hyperventilate. Although anxious peopleseem to breathe more, they actually start to developfaulty breathing patterns. It is very likely that youhave slipped into a pattern of breathing whereby youtake your breaths from the top part of your chest,which results in your shoulders going up and down.To breathe properly, you should use your lowerabdomen, and your tummy should gently rise and fallwith each breath. To check that you are breathingcorrectly (funny though this may sound), place yourhand on your tummy, and see if your tummy is risingand falling. If it isn’t, it is very likely that you havedeveloped the anxious breathing technique – takinglots of little, shallow breaths from your upper torso,instead of deep, long breaths from the lowerabdomen.Normal breathing is so important in controllinganxiety. Breathing is much more than just taking in agasp of air – with each breath, the proportions ofvery important gases in our blood are regulated.A change in the balance of these gases can result inyou feeling light-headed, dizzy and unreal. Manypeople find that just by correcting their breathing,their anxiety symptoms considerably reduce, so it’simportant to rectify faulty breathing at an early stage.37


It is however important to point out thathyperventilation in itself is nothing to be concernedabout and will not cause you any harm. In fact it isjust like anxiety – unpleasant, but harmless.Try this deep breathing exercise now. Aim to practiceit so that you know it off by heart, and will be able toput it into practice whenever you next feel a bout ofanxiety coming on:Deep Breathing Exercise• Breathe in slowly through your nose for acount of three• As you breathe in, push your tummy out• Hold for a count of three• Breathe out through your mouth for a count of five• As you breathe out, pull your tummy in38


For the next exercise, you will need to set aside atleast 30 minutes each day. Make sure you are in aquiet room, where you will not be disturbed. Youmay find it helpful to read out the exercise andrecord it so that you can listen with your eyes closedwhilst lying down. Just as with anything new, it willtake some time for you to learn to relax, but in time,the exercises will become second nature.Relaxation Exercise• Concentrate on your toes. Scrunch your toes uptightly and hold for a count of three. Relax anduncurl your toes.Repeat this twice.• Concentrate on your feet. Push the soles of yourfeet downwards. Feel the tension. Hold for a countof three, and then relax.Repeat this twice.• Tense the muscles in your thighs and hold for acount of three, then relax.Repeat this twice.• Tense the muscles in your bottom and hold for acount of three, then relax.Repeat this twice.• With a deep breath, hold your tummy lightly in fora count of three. Take a big breath out and releaseyour tummy.Repeat this twice.39


• Lift your shoulders up to your ears and hold for acount of three, and relax.Repeat this twice.• Scrunch your eyes up tightly and hold for a countof three, and relax.Repeat this twice.• Now, roll into a position that feels comfortable andkeep your eyes closed for five minutes.• At the end of the exercise, gently stretch, and getup slowly.Whilst practising relaxation techniques you may wishto play relaxing music CDs – such as those whichfeature the sound of the sea, dolphin sounds, andfalling rain. Some people find it useful in addition toburn essential oils such as lavender, geranium etc.The next methods are designed to help you dealwith the psychological symptoms of anxiety.Distraction TechniquesThe aim of these techniques is to get you to think ofsomething else in place of your anxious thoughts.Distraction is a very useful thing to practice insituations where you feel confined – for examplewhilst waiting in a supermarket queue, or whilst stuckin a traffic jam! Instead of thinking thoughts such as,‘I’ve got to get out of here, I feel panicky’, lookaround your environment – look at the people in thequeue, what they are wearing, what they are buying.One of my friends used to imagine people with curlypink hair! This would make her have a little chuckle40


to herself, and succeeded in changing the emphasisof her thoughts from negative to positive.You would be surprised what you can think aboutwhen you make a positive effort to stop thinkinganxiously!There are other ways of distracting yourself that youmay find helpful too. These are:• Counting backwards from 100 in groups of 3s• Saying the alphabet backwardsYou could devise your own distraction techniques ifyou find these boring or too easy!Self TalkYou can also learn to control anxious thoughts bytalking yourself through an anxiety-provokingsituation. By now you should have written down allthe thoughts that reoccur every time you feelanxious, and so will be familiar with them. You knowfrom reading the earlier section in this guide thatthese thoughts simply wind you up further, and makethe anxiety worse. So, you need to replace thesethoughts with positive, more balanced ones. Have alook now at your list of negative thoughts – for eachone, write down a POSITIVE response. For example,if your negative thought is, ‘I can’t cope, I’m going tohave a heart attack’, your response would be ‘I’vecoped before, and now that I have learnt morecoping techniques, I will do even better’. I know thatI won’t have a heart attack because it is onlyadrenaline that is making my heart beat faster’. It’s anatural response to a natural bodily process’.41


At the end of this process, give yourself praise forgetting through the anxiety, and not allowing it tototally overwhelm you. It will get easier with eachtime you practice. Finally, it’s important to practicecoping skills thoroughly when you are not feelinganxious, and then put them into play in the real-lifesituation. Also, your aim is to learn to control theanxiety, NOT to get rid of it.Postponing worryThis is a technique which centres on ‘postponingworry’ as opposed to trying to suppress worryingthoughts. Instead of responding to stressful andworrying thoughts as they occur randomlythroughout the day, assign a specific time and placeto worry. When worrying thoughts pop up outside ofthis time, you simply make a note of the type ofworry (although this isn’t always necessary);classifying the thought into for example, ‘workworrying thought’, ‘home worrying thought’,‘relationships worrying thought’. You can return tothese thoughts then during the allotted worry timesaying to yourself: “I’m not going to think about thisnow, I will return to this during my worry time”. Overtime, this process becomes easier and will eventuallybecome habit. Returning to worries when you are ina more relaxed frame of mind will often result in the‘worries’ seeming less problematic and concerning tothe point that you find it easier to problem solvedifficulties or simply re-evaluate the worry,categorising it as less important, and therefore lessbothersome.42


Talking therapiesAs mentioned earlier, some therapies are recommendedby NICE because they have been proven through clinicaltrials to be effective treatments for anxiety (for example,CBT and Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessingtherapy – EMDR). Other therapies such as clinicalhypnotherapy haven’t been as rigorously scientificallytested but despite this, have still been found to behelpful by many people who have contacted us.Cognitive behavioural therapyCBT is an evidence based approach recommendedby NICE which is used to help people experiencing awide range of mental health difficulties includinganxiety. The basis of CBT is that what people thinkaffects how they feel emotionally and also alters whatthey do. CBT has been found to be extremely usefulfor sufferers of various forms of anxiety disorders.CBT combines two very effective kinds ofpsychotherapy – cognitive therapy and behaviouraltherapy. Behavioural therapy helps clients weakenthe connections between troublesome situations andreactions to them. It also teaches how to calm yourmind and body, so you can feel better, think moreclearly, and make better decisions. As for cognitivetherapy, it teaches how certain thinking patternsmight be influencing your perspective of what isgoing on in your life perhaps leading to you feelinganxious, worried and/or depressed.When combined into CBT, behavioural therapy andcognitive therapy provides a powerful tool to helpreduce anxiety.43


In CBT, therapists take an active part in solvingproblems. When accessing this type of therapy, peopledescribe what it is they are experiencing and what theyexpect out of the treatment. The therapist in responsethen gives an overview of how they expect to meet thisneed and what they expect from you.When you undergo a course of CBT you will beexpected to use the time between therapy sessionsto try things out that you have covered in session.Finally, the number of therapy sessions undertakenvaries and will be agreed on by the therapist andyourself and will mainly depend on the severity of yourdifficulties. Typically a therapist will see clients once aweek for one hour, usually for up to 12-14 sessions,although if your anxiety is severe or longstanding itmight be that you need more sessions.Anxiety UK has an extensive CBT service withlocations available across the country. AdditionallyCBT is available via webcam and over the phone.For more information visit: www.anxietyuk.org.ukEMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation& Reprocessing)Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing(EMDR) is a relatively new treatment that has beenfound to reduce the symptoms of Post-Traumatic StressDisorder (PTSD) and which is recommended by NICE.EMDR involves making side-to-side eye movementswhile recalling the traumatic incident. It works byhelping a part of the brain to process distressingmemories and flashbacks so that if you areexperiencing PTSD, the influence that these haveover your mind is reduced.44


CounsellingCounselling is a form of talking treatment that givespeople the opportunity to talk about their problemsand to explore difficult feelings in an environmentthat is confidential. Counsellors do not usually offeradvice. Their approach is instead to help you to gaininsight into your feelings and behaviour and tochange your behaviour, if necessary. They do this bylistening to what you have to say and commentingon it from their particular professional perspective.There are many different forms of counselling but themost commonly practiced and available form is knownas ‘person centred or client-centred counselling’.This is based on the principle that the counsellorprovides three 'core conditions' (or essential attributes)that are, in themselves, therapeutic. These are:• empathy (the ability to imagine oneself in anotherperson's position)• unconditional positive regard (warm, positivefeelings, regardless of the person's behaviour)• congruence (honesty and openness).Again, the counsellor uses the relationship with theclient as a means of effecting healing and change.Anxiety UK has an extensive counselling servicewith locations available across the country.Additionally counselling is available via webcamand over the phone. For more information visit:www.anxietyuk.org.uk45


HypnotherapyWhilst hypnotherapy is not currently recommendedby NICE in the treatment of anxiety, many peoplewho have contacted Anxiety UK have nonethelessfound this therapy to be helpful.During our daily lives, we may not realise, but weexperience trance states quite often. The experienceof hypnosis is similar in neither being asleep norawake, but being in a tremendous state of relaxation;an altered state of consciousness.Hypnosis is a natural, effective way of making contactwith your unconscious – the source of many of ourproblems and a huge area of untapped potentialstrength and knowledge. The unconscious mind isthe part of us that doesn’t sleep, therefore, becauseour unconscious mind is always ‘on duty’, nobodycan be hypnotised against their will or ‘duped’ to dosomething they do not agree with. During hypnosisyou can reject or accept suggestions, even in a deepstate of relaxation.Hypnotherapy utilises hypnosis for the treatment andrelief of a variety of somatic and psychologicalsymptoms. It also produces a deeply relaxed statemore easily and quickly than many other forms oftreatment. When carried out by a professionallytrained and skilled hypnotherapist, the benefits can belong lasting and often permanent and is completelynatural and safe, with no harmful side effects.46


The number of sessions required for a course ofhypnotherapy varies, and the exact amount oftherapy required will be agreed upon between theclient and therapist depending on the problem.However hypnotherapy is aimed at producing resultsin a relatively short period of time (4-6 sessionsmaximum).Anxiety UK has an extensive hypnotherapyservice with locations available across thecountry. For more information visit:www.anxietyuk.org.uk47


What else can help?The final section of this guide comprises a collectionof useful information that has been amassed from thefeedback provided by many anxiety sufferers whohave contacted Anxiety UK over the years for help.An evidence base does not always exist for all of theareas covered in this section and it is recommendedthat you speak to your GP before embarking on anew treatment approach.DietTry to eat a sensible, balanced diet. This is importantbecause fluctuating blood sugar levels which areoften the result of snacking, and not eating nutritionalmeals, can produce the same symptoms as anxiety.It is therefore advisable to cut down on instant sugarfixes, and switch to eating foods that will give you amore sustained release of sugar. Carbohydrate foodsare very good at this – bread, rice, cereals, and pasta– particularly whole grain carbohydrates.Eliminate caffeine from your diet. Caffeine increasesanxiety symptoms, particularly palpitations, feelingjumpy, and shakiness. Caffeine whilst being presentin coffee is also found in tea, chocolate, and Coca-Cola. Caffeine free varieties of most beverages arenow available therefore you don’t have to eliminatethese drinks from your diet, just switch to thedecaffeinated versions!Cut down too on your alcohol intake. Many peoplefind that the day after they have had a drink they feelmuch more anxious, and this is not related, it seemsto any hangover that they may also have. This is often48


described as an ‘anxiety hangover’. Excess alcoholcan make you more prone to the effects of stress.Cut down on smoking, or stop completely. Nicotineand other chemicals found in cigarettes actuallyincrease symptoms of anxiety by increasing the heartrate and blood pressure.Herbal, homeopathic and natural remediesPlease note: You should always consult your GP and/orpharmacist before embarking on taking any natural/herbalremedies as some may interfere and interact with prescribedmedication that you might be taking.The herb, St, John’s Wort has been at timesdescribed as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’, in the UnitedStates. It is believed to help people suffering frommild to moderate depression and anxiety, and mayhelp restore a feeling of inner calm. It is widelyavailable in many health food shops.Valerian is also thought to be a natural tranquilliser.You will find this herb in most of the stress-relievingherbal tablets that are now widely available. It is agood idea to look on the back of herbal tabletpackets and check the content of Valerian, as this isone of the most powerful herbs in such preparations.You can also buy Valerian in its raw state. It looks liketree bark, and has a terrible cheesy smell, but whenboiled and drunk as tea, it is actually quite pleasant.Homeopathic remedies may also have a place intreating anxiety problems. Some people find Aconitevery useful for panic attacks. There are now a widerange of homeopathic remedies available for avariety of disorders.49


Bach Rescue remedy is a combination of five floweressences, which is taken under the tongue in theform of a liquid droplet when feeling anxious. Somepeople swear by this remedy and always have theirbottle at the ready!Anxiety UK offers access to a PsychiatricPharmacy Helpline whose advisors can adviseon both prescribed medication and alternativemedicines. Contact Anxiety UK for furtherinformation.Complementary therapiesMany people affected by anxiety find complementarytherapies helpful. Therapies such as aromatherapy,therapeutic massage, reflexology, Reiki healing,acupuncture are now widely available and somepeople have found such therapies to be helpful inrelieving/reducing the symptoms of anxiety.Physical exerciseThere is no getting away from the fact that physicalexercise as well as being great at keeping us healthy,also keeps us mentally well. In fact there have been awealth of studies which have found that regularexercise is one of the most effective ways to raiseself-esteem. The reason for this is thought to be dueto exercise causing release of the body’s naturalendorphins, whilst also increasing transmission ofchemicals such as serotonin. Any exercise will help tolower your stress levels, and therefore help to controlanxiety. Many people who have contacted AnxietyUK have found swimming, running, walking, andoften yoga particularly helpful. I have often heardpeople with agoraphobia say that riding a bicycle50


helped them considerably. It is believed that physicalexercise uses up the excess adrenaline that anxietysufferers have in their bodies, and so it is really worthpersisting even if you are not naturally inclined toparticipating in sport.Peer supportMaking contact with others, I believe is vital torecovery. Isolating yourself with your fears only makesthings worse. This is why peer support is so importantin a person’s journey to recovery from anxiety.Self help groupsOne of the things I found most helpful when I firststarted suffering with anxiety was to meet others whoknew exactly what I was going through. I started myown self help group in Manchester because at thetime, surprisingly, there was nothing in this big city forpeople like me! There are lots of self help groupsaround the country now in operation and Anxiety UKmaintains an up to date list of such groups.Peer mentoring projectsAnxiety UK has over the years run a number of peermentoring initiatives which essentially give peopleliving with anxiety the opportunity to access supportthrough a mentor; someone who has receivedtraining in providing mentoring support. Mentors arenot therapists but people who can listen to yourconcerns and support you to deal with the worriesthat are concerning you the most. A mentor couldhelp you with by:• Improving mental and emotional well-being• Increasing confidence51


• Signposting to training, education or employmentservices• Listening to your concerns to help you devise waysto help ease your worriesPen pal schemeAnxiety UK operates a pen pal scheme which enablespeople to write to/email others and make friends.This service is a good way of breaking any isolationyou may be feeling.MedicationIt may be that you have tried everything mentionedso far in this guide, and your anxiety levels are stillseemingly sky high. If this is the case, you may needto go and see your GP and try medication. SelectiveSerotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) – which are aclass of antidepressants, have been shown to behelpful in the treatment of anxiety disorders. WhilstSSRIs are known as antidepressants they do have ananxiety-blocking component, and appear to havefewer side effects than medications of the past.There are also newer medications available that aresimilar to SSRIs which can also be helpful in thetreatment of anxiety.Sometimes, if you are experiencing an acute bout ofanxiety, your GP may prescribe a short course of(minor) tranquillisers also known as benzodiazepines.When you first take these tablets you will probablyfind that they are very good in terms of combatinganxiety in that they will calm you down, andconsequently help you to feel able to cope. Theproblem is that tranquillisers are unfortunately52


addictive, and as time goes on, you will start to needto take more in order to get the same initial effect.In other words, you become tolerant to them. Inaddition to this, many people now believe thattranquillisers actually exacerbate anxiety and can leadto the onset of agoraphobia and panic disorder. Thisis why tranquillisers are now rarely prescribed for thetreatment of anxiety except in circumstances wherethere is acute anxiety, and even when this is so, suchprescriptions will only be for a short period of time.Unfortunately most people do not find a medicationthat they are best suited to straight away, and end uphaving to switch a few times before finding whatworks best for them. This is quite frustrating naturally,but do remember if you find one drug doesn’t workfor you, don’t discount trying others.As you can see medication can be very helpful in theshort term but particularly with anxiety can maskproblems or side-effects can make matters worse, soit is very important that you have a full conversationwith your doctor or pharmacist about the pros andcons of taking mediation, as well as how they aregoing to help you access psychological therapy todeal with the problems that are making you anxious.Anxiety UK has a psychiatricpharmacy helpline available whichprovides an opportunity for peopleto speak to a highly qualifiedpsychiatric pharmacist who cangive advice and information on allaspects of medication.53


Final wordsI do hope that this book has provided you with auser-friendly overview of anxiety, how it can betackled, and some useful resources. If you are alreadya supporter/member of Anxiety UK, you will be ableto take advantage of our quick to access anddiscounted therapy services (which include 1:1counselling, CBT and hypnotherapy services). Wealso produce a quarterly magazine “Anxious Times”which is mailed to members and serves to inform ofnew developments, and provides a great insight intovarious anxiety conditions. In this vein, we alsoproduce a range of fact-sheets and other informationproducts on the full range of anxiety disorders whichgive more detailed information on each of thedisorders than which is contained in this guide. Theseare all available to download from the Anxiety UKwebsite: www.anxietyuk.org.ukI would like to end by wishing you all the best inlearning to cope with your anxiety. You will do it,hard though this may seem at times. I do hope ithelps to know that you are not alone, and that manyhave trodden the path that you are either about toembark on or have embarked on! With at least one inthree people these days likely to suffer from anxiety,these types of problems are certainly on the increase,and organisations such as Anxiety UK will endeavourto continue to support people like you in the yearsto come.54


Useful AddressesBritish Association for Behaviouraland Cognitive PsychotherapiesWebsite: www.babcp.org.ukTelephone: 0161 705 4304British Association for Counsellingand PsychotherapyWebsite: www.bacp.co.ukTelephone: 01455 883300Complementary and Natural Healthcare CouncilWebsite: www.cnhc.org.ukTelephone: 0203 1782199National Institute for Healthand Clinical ExcellenceWebsite: www.nice.org.ukTelephone: 0845 003 7780Royal College of PsychiatristsWebsite: www.rcpsych.ac.ukTelephone: 02072352351The British Psychological SocietyWebsite: www.bps.org.ukTelephone: 0116 254 9568Information correct at the time of going to print.55


If you would like to receive support for your anxiety,Anxiety UK provides a range of services, including accessto reduced cost therapy, the chance to get support fromothers and the opportunity to campaign onbehalf of anxiety sufferers.If you would like to receive support for your anxiety,Anxiety UK provides a range of services to members,To become a supporter of Anxiety UK, call us onincluding access to reduced cost therapy, the chance08444 775 774 or visit www.anxietyuk.org.ukto get support from other sufferers and theopportunity to campaign on behalf of anxietysufferers.To become a member, ring our helpline on 08444775 774 or visit www.anxietyuk.org.ukAnxiety UKZion Community Resources Centre,339 Stretford Road, Hulme,Manchester M15 4ZYTel: 08444 775 774Website: www.anxietyuk.org.ukEmail: info@anxietyuk.org.ukEstablished 1970Registered charity no: 1113403© Anxiety UK 2012This guide has been written by Anxiety UK, with input from Clinical Advisors Dr DavidBaldwin, Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry at the University of Southampton and Clare Baguley,Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) North West Programme Field Lead.

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