What is an anxiety disorder?

AnxietyThe experience of panic and anxiety is the effect of the 'fight or flight' response. The fight or flight response is our bodies natural response to a perceived danger, whether real or imagined. When it is activated, adrenaline is released into the body to enable us to either deal with or escape from the dangerous situation. The effects of the fight or flight response include an increase in our heart rate to pump blood faster to the lungs, muscles and brain. We breathe more rapidly to increase our oxygen levels, our muscles tense ready for action and many functions not necessary for fighting or escaping, such as digestion or reproduction, slow or stop.

It is important to realise that what we think about can actually activate the fight or flight response. Our minds and bodies can't tell the difference between the thoughts about a situation and the situation itself. Therefore by simply thinking, worrying or 'what if'-ing about something you are actually activating the fight or flight response in exactly the same way as if you were actually experiencing it in reality.

Many people develop panic disorder following a major life stress or a build up of stress. Major life stress can include a death of a loved one, moving home, loss of employment, relationship problems, financial problems, a physical illness, birth of a child etc.

Common examples of anxiety are public speaking anxiety, performance anxiety, blushing, exam nerves, fear of flying and driving anxiety.

Types of anxiety disorder

There are several different anxiety disorders and people may experience symptoms of more than one at the same time.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is persistent and excessive anxiety or worry about events or activities which may or may not happen.

Panic Disorder is the fear of having a spontaneous panic attack. The intensity of the attack can be extremely severe and some people may even feel they are having a heart attack and/or are going to die or are going insane.

OCDObsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is the experience of obsessive, unwanted thoughts and/or compulsive behaviours. This can include repetitive behaviours such as cleaning, checking, counting, repeating words silently, or hand washing. Read more.....

Social Anxiety is the experience of fear, anxiety or panic in social situations. People may fear embarrassing themselves or making a fool of themselves in some way.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the experience, or witness of, or confrontation with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death, or serious injury, or threat of physical injury of self or others. The major feature of PTSD is the reliving of the event through dreams, nightmares or flashbacks. Read more.....

Phobia is an excessive fear about a specific thing (animals, heights, flying, blood etc.) The object or situation is avoided or provokes extreme anxiety. Read more.....

How is it treated?

Simple phobias and some cases of PTSD can be rapidly treated in one or two sessions of a mixture of solution focussed therapy and NLP. As the cause of the anxiety is known, it is a relatively straightforward process to disrupt the unwanted thinking pattern and replace it with a more beneficial one. A personalised hypnotic MP3 or CD recording is provided to further reinforce the change. For obsessive compulsive disorders, I find CBT techniques, used alongside traditional hypnotherapy, to be very beneficial also.

In all other other anxiety disorders the only effective approach is hypno-psychotherapy, as it is essential that the root cause of the anxiety is identified and dealt with. 

Please feel free to contact me if you want a more detailed explanation of each approach and which is likely to be the most helpful to you.

pdfDownload an anxiety information sheet provided by the Clinical Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy Association (CHPA)