2 Understanding

Understanding Anxiety.

The symptoms of stress and anxiety can be very upsetting, and can stop us from doing the things we might otherwise enjoy, though anxiety only really becomes a problem when it’s out of proportion to the situation, or when it goes on for too long.

About one person in ten will consult a doctor at some time because they’re feeling anxious. It’s also very common for people with anxiety symptoms to feel low, or depressed, for some of the time.

Although it is extremely unpleasant, even severe anxiety doesn’t kill us. We don’t drop down dead of anxiety. It doesn’t cause us any immediate physical or mental harm, although, like stress, it’s much healthier for us to manage stress and anxiety, rather than to be “keyed up” all the time.

Anxiety can make our lives miserable when it gets out of control. One of the problems with stress, and anxiety, is that it can make us more worried and more preoccupied about our symptoms, which only makes matters worse – a “vicious circle.”

We can very easily become stressed and anxious about feeling stressed and anxious!

In figure 1 (below) we see how an unpleasant thought, emotion, or physical sensation can begin a vicious circle, leading to unpleasant physical symptoms like a fast or irregular heartbeat, pains in the chest and difficulty breathing.

These symptoms lead to further stress and worry, when we misinterpret them as signs of something serious; maybe we fear we’re having a heart attack, which of course makes us even more worried, stressed and anxious.

This makes us pay more attention to our symptoms, which makes them worse … and so the cycle goes round and round, until we make our anxiety so bad that we may have a panic attack.

Anxiety Cycle

Figure 1.

Will this help?

When we feel like this, it’s very easy and understandable to become pessimistic about the future. Many people think there’s no hope for them, that they will always feel awful.

It’s especially difficult if our anxiety seems senseless, when we seem to feel anxious about “everything” or about “nothing,” or when anxiety attacks just seem to come “out of the blue”.

When we’re pessimistic about the future we might not see the point in doing things. This can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If we think there’s not much point in doing something, why should we try?

How hard we try is linked to how to be successful we’re likely to be. The more effort we put in, the more benefit we’re likely to feel!

Do you think this programme will help?

How hopeful am I?

Make a note of how hopeful you feel that the programme will help. Score from 1 for “not at all hopeful”, to 10 for “extremely hopeful.”

Do you think your level of confidence will affect how much effort you put in?

Do you think the amount of effort you put in, will affect how much benefit you will get from the programme?

Next – Awareness.

Written by: SC.
Written on: 20 May 2019.
Last updated on: 06 June 2019.
Checked by: JL.
Checked on: 06 June 2019.
Date for review: May 2021.
Flesch Reading Ease: 69.