Anxiety Therapy Hampshire & Dorset
Worrying is like walking around with an umbrella waiting for it to rain! Anon
Phobias, anxieties, panic attacks and fears all stem from a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is often called the ‘terror centre of the brain’.
When a real, or a perceived danger is recognised by the brain, a fight/flight response is set off to help us overcome that danger. But sometimes, instead of the danger being dispersed in the mind, a template of that danger is kept, and anything like the initial situation will reactivate the template.
With phobias, the feeling of the phobic response is an avoidance response from the mind. The mind says ‘this is a danger, so get out of there’. The feelings are produced to warn you, and get you away from that danger. Unfortunately, the unconscious mind can sometimes react like this to things that aren’t really a danger. This is why I have treated clients who have had phobic responses to cotton wool balls, dogs, cats, cars, felt tip pens and ice cream! The fear is real even if the danger is not.
There are 2 kinds of phobias. One is a direct phobia. This is when you know exactly why you feel like you do. For example, if someone had a car crash and then find they have a phobic response when they get near cars, or someone who has a fear of dogs because they were bitten when they were young.
Indirect phobias are more complex. The person has no idea why they feel the way they do, and there is no real memory of the first time it started. The phobia can also change and develop in other areas of a person’s life, so an original fear of flying develops into a fear of driving as well. Indirect phobias can sometimes take a little longer to cure than direct phobias.
Panic attacks are an extreme form of response, and things like social anxieties which makes a person nervous, blush and sweat when having to meet new people is the same response happening. In fact most anxieties, panic attacks and phobias are very similar in their working process.
Anxieties are a lesser form of panic. The brain is trying to keep us away from a ‘dangerous’ situation (such as having to give a presentation when not feeling confident in doing so) or the anxiety can be more general such as worrying about things in life in general (will I or my children become unwell, will I cope, will I be a good person, will I die young etc) and we may be aware of what makes us feel anxious, or it may be the feeling of worry or anxiety is the only thing we are aware of, and we may not understand what is triggering this feeling.
Working with anxiety, I have found Fears, Phobias and Worries vary from person to person and the type of issue. Often when the anxiety is felt, avoidance develops to try and calm the anxiety (i.e. Not going to parties, not going near dogs etc) but this strengthens the anxiety This is why it can get worse as time passes
The therapy used is counselling, plus some specialised approaches I’ve trained in other the years;
• Rewind Therapy on a negative past or a future perceived event and help remove a phobia
• Looking at changing your internal dialogue
• CBT to change thinking and reactions to anxiety
• Coping strategies to reduce and control the anxiety
• Goal setting to change current circumstances
• Hypnotherapy to calm the mind around a fear or worry
• Mindfulness & Enhanced Guided Imagery to re-frame a fear or anxiety
For some phobias and anxieties, only 1-2 sessions are needed, or others some extra work and more sessions will be required. The good thing is fear and anxieties are not ‘fixed’ in the brain, so it’s possible to let it go and feel confident and safe again.
This anxiety is when there is a persistent fear of a social or performance situation where there is a possibly of embarrassment and being put ‘on the spot.’
This is where there is reoccurring and unexpected panic attack which then causes strong anxiety that the panic attacks will happen again.
Posttraumatic stress disorder
This is where a person has experiences an extremely traumatic event which leaves the person after experiencing high levels of anxiety.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder
A person experiencing this will be aware of a constant worry and anxiety which are difficult to control and can sometimes seem there is no obvious trigger for the worry.
This anxiety is triggered by the need to escape and feel safe, and avoidance of any places that or situations where escape may be difficult. At extremes, staying at home where safely is felt becomes the normal behaviour.
OCD is fear based, but can seem from the outside a totally different thing from anxiety. This is often because the behaviours can be extreme, and the fear and anxiety that drives the behaviours (known as safety behaviours as they calm the anxiety) can be hidden from the person experiencing OCD.
The therapy is similar to the type used with someone with a general anxiety, but there are some specific differences to help a person overcome their OCD.
With OCD, it may need a few sessions more therapy than with standard anxiety, but it can be removed from someone's life and leave then with more time and energy in their life as a OCD free person.
Of course there are many other forms in which anxiety shows it’s face. None of these are to be embarrassed about, and all can change. Please contact me to discuss your anxiety and how therapy can help.