It is normal to feel nervous, worried and anxious sometimes. If you feel tense, anxious, nervous and/or worried a lot or most of the time, however, this likely indicates that you suffer from anxiety or an anxiety disorder and that you may benefit from anxiety therapy.
Anxiety is our body's survival system activating in response to a real or imagined threat. So yes, that means whenever you are feeling anxious, worried or nervous, your body and brain are physically reacting to some form of perceived threat. Sometimes these threats are legitimate; for example, we hope you get pretty nervous if a tiger jumps out in front of you! In this instance, your body would activate an automatic anxious reaction (probably a flight or freeze response) that would assist your body to react quickly to keep you safe, and this would represent healthy functioning of your survival system.
If, however, your body reacts like this when you're in the Mcdonalds drive-through ordering a coffee, this is a situation where there is no legitimate threat (unless the drive-through worker is really scary and mean) and a survival response is not necessary. If your body is going into these responses where there is no legitimate threat, you are likely to have an anxiety problem.
Indicators of an anxiety problem or anxiety disorder can include:
Difficulties controlling worry and overthinking
Tendency to catastrophise or immediately go to the 'worst case scenario'
Anxious reactions in situations where there is no threat to your physical or emotional safety
Physical symptoms including sweating, heart racing, trembling and stomach upset
How We Can Help
As anxiety represents an unnecessary activation of the body's survival system, it can often be traced back to past traumatic events when the response was actually necessary. Just because it isn't needed now, doesn't mean it never was. For example, if in your previous workplace you had a very critical and hostile manager, you may notice feeling anxious when talking to your new manager, even if your new manager is kind and caring. The anxious reaction was relevant when you had a nasty manager because they were a legitimate threat to your emotional safety, and now your body is reacting the same way to your new manager, even though it doesn't need to as there is no threat. This is a very basic example of how anxiety can be related to traumatic experiences.
If, during a thorough assessment, your anxiety symptoms are determined to be linked to past traumatic events, your therapist will use a trauma-focussed therapy, likely Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) if applicable.
If a thorough assessment determines that your anxiety is not likely to have been caused by trauma, your therapist will utilise evidence-based therapies for anxiety including:
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Compassion-Focussed Therapy (CFT)
Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Dialectical-Behavioural Therapy (DBT)
If this information resonates with you or you would like to know more, contact us now.