Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy


Anxiety problems cause high levels of distress because the physical symptoms are so unpleasant.  Anxiety is a natural process in the body and mind - as human beings we are designed to react to threatening situations with an anxiety response.  Anxiety makes us react quickly and be prepared to deal with a threat.  It's an essential mechanism for survival.  

Many problems with anxiety arise because the threat is seen to come from something which is not actually threatening - but something we perceive is threatening.  We may have memories of situations where we felt under threat and don't want to repeat.  This makes a lot of sense when you are anxious - you want to avoid having that nasty feeling.  However, over time you may become anxious about many more things - with the result that your life becomes more limited.

Problems with anxiety take many forms:

Panic Disorder: people have panic attacks for lots of different reasons.  However, if you panic because you fear 'I will lose control, I will have a heart attack, I will faint, I will go crazy' usually linked with 'and I'll make a fool of myself' - then you probably have what's known as Panic Disorder.  This can lead to you becoming 'agoraphobic' if you start to avoid situations that make you feel panicky - like public transport, shops, crowds, busy places, driving on motorways or long distances, flying, etc.

Social Anxiety or Shyness: being overly concerned about other people's opinions of you, to the extent that you cannot participate comfortably in work or social situations.  This may be an anxiety that relates only to specific situations, such as giving presentations at work, participating in meetings or going on a date.  It could be related to something specific like blushing or shaking, that you are very self-conscious about. 

Health Anxiety: a preoccupation with health problems and physical symptoms.   This may be triggered by a health problem or it could be a general anxiety about your health or the health of those close to you.  You may find yourself either over-checking your symptoms, maybe by spending a lot of time checking your symptoms on the internet or you may find that you avoid having information about health, by not going to the doctor or watching TV programmes about illness. 

Generalised Anxiety Disorder: this is a problem with worry.  Of course, all of us worry from time to time, but it can become a problem if you spend much of your time worrying and your worry seems to move from one thing to another.  In other words, you feel you can always find something to worry about.

Phobias: most people have some kind of phobia, but it is often something which is easily avoidable or doesn't bother them too much, ie it's quite easy to avoid snakes in this country, so most people with snake phobia don't seek help for it.   At times, though, it can be problematic - having a phobia of heights, lifts, spiders, can start to interfere with your life.





Helen Lea Brighton Psychotherapist