We all experience some levels of anxiety
We all feel occasional bouts of anxiety. These can be triggered by everyday events: going on a first date, taking an exam, waiting for test results. Anything that promotes change can give us some form of low level anxiety. Whilst it’s not a particularly comfortable feeling or one that we enjoy, it’s also completely normal.
The kind of anxiety that requires treatment is quite different. This anxiety affects our sleep; our day-to-day routines; or our ability to socialise, work or attend school if it’s occurring at least 6 days a week for a period of 6 months or longer.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health concerns people have alongside depression. In fact, anxiety quite often comes along as a cousin or near neighbour of depression, and some people move rapidly from periods of depression to periods of anxiety. We also often find anxiety in people with other, co-occuring conditions such as substance use disorder or addiction. Anxiety is one of the reasons many people choose to self-medicate.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Phobias differ greatly from anxiety. A phobia is an intense, overwhelming, paralysing fear of a situation, person, place or event. The feeling is out of proportion to the danger that’s presenting, in the sense that it’s much greater than the normal sort of anxiety that we might experience around, for example, air travel, spiders or snakes.
A phobia is irrational but feels incredibly real. That’s why simply telling someone to snap out of it isn’t going to work. People who have phobias go to extreme lengths to avoid the situation that provokes the phobia, to the point that it alters the course or pattern of your life on a daily basis. A person with a phobia of flying might travel for 5 days by road or train to take a business trip.
Agoraphobia is a specific type of phobia. It can come of being outside or in open spaces or being outside whatever, we perceive to be our comfort zone - whether that’s our bedroom, our house, or our town. It’s often felt in crowds.
With agoraphobia, people often rationalise not leaving home. They get their groceries delivered, work from home, or become nocturnal. Agoraphobia causes intense fear and panic, and the person experiencing it may also experience depersonalisation or dissociation (a detachment from one’s body or feeling like we are outside of our body.) Agoraphobia can go on for many years and be very troubling.
At The Wave, we treat phobias through talk therapy, and sometimes with medication. We might also use very small amounts of exposure therapy.
Panic is an extreme experience and reaches its peak very quickly. Panic can descend completely unexpectedly, or the person might be aware of the situations and triggers that cause panic for them. Panic disorder can also co-occur alongside agoraphobia, Social Anxiety Disorder or other mental health conditions.
People will try and avoid what they believe to be the triggers that have brought about panic attacks in the past. These often include driving, being a passenger in a car (especially if a person was involved in a car accident) or using public transport. A significant amount of time might pass between the triggering incident and the appearance of the panic disorder.
Don't suffer alone
What treatments are available for anxiety?
Changing how we process information and working through the core challenges, are some of the ways that talk therapy is able to assist us. Building a relationship with a primary therapist is a vehicle to healing the underlying issues in anxiety. Individual session and group CBT can be useful for reframing old beliefs and thoughts patterns. Family therapy can assist where the anxiety has built up in the home environment, perhaps through unresolved family issues, change in living arrangements or family breakdown. Creative therapies, journalling, equine and art therapy can also assist with the management, symptom relief and understanding of the self in anxiety
Alleviating anxiety through the use of alternative and holistic therapists has also been seen to be beneficial for many young people. Regular practice of breathing techniques and daily exercise has known health benefits. This works across the anxiety spectrum too. Yoga, massage and meditation are effective tools for clearing some space in our minds and offering refocus at times when we need relief fro outside stressors. Insomnia is also helped by great nighttime feel good rituals, lavender oils, diffusers and pillow sprays. In residential treatment, our young people have the luxury of time and space to try out new ideas (perhaps even those that they have previously dismissed). Our holistic team, have the patience, love and understanding to look at symptoms through a different lens and offer new solutions for everyday concerns.
We understand that there are some indicators that can make us more vulnerable to developing the signs and symptoms of anxiety. Women are more likely (but not exclusively) to develop anxiety. So are those who could be described as Shy or introvert. There is an increased risk if close family members have also been diagnosed with anxiety. Being Divorced or widowed. Having experienced childhood trauma or extreme stress in childhood. Stressful, unpleasant situations in adult life and high cortisol levels in the saliva (especially in the afternoons) can indicate elevated risks. The good news is that there are plenty of treatment options available.
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We take a holistic approach to recovery
Recovery is not a journey that should be taken alone. Do you have questions?
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