In Therapy: Working through…Anxiety (part 1)

In Therapy- Working Through...

Welcome to In Therapy: Working through…

In the next few posts, we will be discussing anxiety, what it is, its causes, consequences, and therapies that help work through anxiety issues.

I will also be leaving you with some tips on how to work through anxiety in daily life.


Anxiety can be defined as a feeling of worry or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. It is something that happens to all of us at different points of our lives. It can be triggered by a variety of situations, both external (social or life situations) and internal (thoughts, feelings).

Anxiety has a history. In the days of cave-people, anxiety was helpful in keeping our fellow man alive. If there was danger, the person would get an increase in adrenaline, which would allow him to run faster or to defend himself from that danger.

Nowadays we don’t have the same kinds of dangers, but our bodies are still very similar to that of the caveman. Adrenaline still kicks in when we are in a situation we might consider frightful or dangerous, and our fight or flight (others include freeze, flop) mechanisms might kick in.

We might not have a cheetah looking at us like we’re their next dinner, but seeing that person that has bullied us in the past might give us the same feeling. Sometimes we might feel anxious over every day events, such as taking a test or going for a job interview.

Anxiety is normal, even though sometimes distressing. There are ways to work through it and find the coping mechanisms that will make it more manageable and less debilitating.


As with self-esteem, which we looked at in the past few blog posts, the symptoms of anxiety might be physical, psychological or behavioural.

Physical symptoms include:

  • Increased heart rate and palpitations

  • Increased muscle tension

  • Feeling wobbly on the legs

  • Breathing more quickly or having difficulty breathing

  • Feeling the need to use the toilet more often

  • Feeling sick

  • Feeling tight chested

  • Headaches or migraines

  • Increased sweating

  • Feeling flushed or blushing

  • Dry mouth

  • Shaking

Psychological symptoms include:

  • Thoughts

    • “I am losing control”
    • “I am going mad”
    • “I am going to die”
    • “I am ill”
    • “I am going to have a heart attack”
    • “I am going to be sick”
    • “I am going to faint”
  • Feelings

    • “Why are people looking at me”

    • “People know I’m anxious”

    • Feeling surreal – detached from their surroundings

    • Feeling like things are going much slower or faster than they actually are

    • Flight

    • Feeling tense, restless, high-strung, hyper


      • Avoidance of situations and people that we believe cause us anxiety. This might be real or imagined causes.


The list of anxiety disorders is extensive, and we won’t have time to go through them all individually. If you want to find out more, please go the Anxiety UK Website (the list below is taken from this website). If you would like me to write more in depth about any of these, and how I might work with them in session, please leave me a comment below or send me an email and I will include this in future blog posts.

  • Agoraphobia
  • Body dysmorphic disorder
  • Claustrophobia
  • Generalised anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Trichotillomania
  • Health anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Post traumatic stress disorder
  • Social phobia
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Specific phobias
  • Depersonalisation disorder
  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Separation anxiety disorder


  • One way of working through anxiety when it gets overwhelming, or even to prevent it, is looking after yourself in different ways. Click here for my series on self-care, which might give you some ideas into how to do this.
    • Have a bath
    • Spend time with friends and family
    • Find time to be on your own
    • Find a hobby or activity that you enjoy
    • Keeping fit
    • Get in touch with nature
    • Honour your feelings and set healthy boundaries
  • Meditation techniques might also be helpful
    • Breathing
    • Yoga/pilates
    • Mindfulness
  • When the thoughts or feelings that cause anxiety show up, challenge them with different, more positive ones. This might take a lot of work, depending on how anxious you get. We will discuss a bit more in the next few blog posts.

Until next week….

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6 responses

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