Jenny Rees Davies - MBACP (Snr Accred), Post-Grad Dip Couns, UKRC

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Registered Practitioner with the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy

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Panic Attacks/Anxiety         

Anxiety - sometimes called nervousness or fear - is one of the most distressing emotions that people can experience.   Anxiety can include phobias (fear of specific things or situations), panic attacks (intense feelings of anxiety in which people often feel like they are about to die or go mad),  post-traumatic stress disorder (repeated memories of terrible traumas with high levels of distress), obsessive compulsive disorder (thinking about or doing things over and over again), and generalized anxiety disorder (a mixture of worries and anxiety symptoms experienced most of the time).  

The thoughts that accompany anxiety are different from the thoughts that characterise depression.   Anxiety is accompanied by the perception that we are in danger or that we are threatened or vulnerable in some way.   Anxious thoughts are future oriented and often predict catastrophe, often beginning with “What if ...” and ending with a disastrous outcome.

Anxiety, whether caused by life or work stress, can somatise in the body causing very real physical symptoms - from a slight tension or jitteriness, flushed cheeks, dry mouth or sweaty palms - to a full-blown anxiety or panic attack with symptoms such as difficulty breathing, light-headedness and increased heart rate. 

People often feel the need to understand where the anxiety is coming from and at the same time learn strategies to manage or alleviate the symptoms.   Many stress reactions become fixed or conditioned, even when the original stressor is no longer present.

Strategies and exercises which help can include:

• Identifying automatic thoughts, images and moods associated with anxiety

• Looking at rational and irrational thought patterns

• Challenging assumptions and beliefs

• Separating situations, moods and thoughts

• Setting goals

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