When faced with a situation or event which we perceive as threatening, our brains have been programmed to release a chemical, adrenaline, which prepares our bodies to fight the danger, or to get away from it……..now! This physiological response happens so quickly, we don’t have the chance to ‘over think’ or even think at all.
If we hesitate, we could be lost. All animals in the world have a fight or flight response to avoid being killed, eaten etc. This is how the human race has survived without becoming extinct so actually, physiologically, our fight or flight response is really helpful! It has kept us safe.
When people suffer from anxiety, they can experience a fight or flight response in situations where it is not helpful; in crowds, when they are in the shops, meeting new people etc. It can feel safer to avoid the situations/places which trigger anxiety. However, this means that quality of life can be impacted, people can start to feel out of control, that they can’t cope or ‘be normal’ and this is a really difficult place to be.
The common anxiety disorders are:
- Health Anxiety
- Social Anxiety
- Panic Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Specific Phobia (spiders, flying etc)
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) (Excessive Worrying)
CBT provides a framework which can be used to understand anxiety together. Collaborative working is essential when thinking about how anxiety works for a specific individual in a specific situation. Anxiety is distressing and it’s really important to work with the emotional response which anxiety generates in each individual in a caring, supportive way so potential ways forward can be talked through.
There are ways our responses to anxiety can be managed.