Anxiety is an emotion that is considered normal only when it occurs in measured proportions. Anything that is prolonged and begins to feel overwhelming needs attention.
Daniel looked at the alarm clock and uttered a sigh. He realized there were still a couple of hours for his interview. Daniel had spent many days ruminating over the questions that he’d be asked and the result that may follow. He went back over his past failures and couldn’t stop worrying. He hardly slept and ate. And, on the day of his interview, he realized he was a bag of nerves, and the lack of sleep added to his anxiety levels.
So, what happened here? Did the anxious Daniel benefit from the incessant worrying?
Anxiety is an emotion that is considered normal only when it occurs in measured proportions. Anything that is prolonged and begins to feel overwhelming needs attention.
Everyone tends to feel anxious at many points in their life. It could be the anxiety before a new job or attending a new school. The body responds naturally to stress with a feeling of fear or imagining the worst possible outcome. This is when anxiety begins taking over by making one attach these fears to anxious thoughts impacting the quality of life being led.
For example, Daniel who is worried about the job interview is anxious about failing the interview. However, Daniel could pause to ask himself the following questions:
“What am I anxious about?”
“Is this the only outcome that I can imagine?”
“What are the other possible outcomes?”
“Could I have a different approach to life?”
Questioning one’s intentions and thought processes brings an internal shift.
Not every type of anxiety is bad and it can also have a positive effect. Sometimes, anxiety can motivate a person to finish their job faster or it can keep a person alert in a tense situation. Every person experiences anxiety at different levels and this is dependent upon one’s response to anxiety.
A person with chronic anxiety is often living a life full of fear and the decisions taken are often driven out of fear.
For example, Daniel may not want to attend the job interview as he has imagined the worst possible outcome. In this case, living in anxiety has detrimental effects on life, relationships, career, and one’s internal connection to self.
Anxiety and stress may often be considered synonymous due to the range of emotions and actions they produce. However, stress is something that is produced due to prolonged feelings of anxiety.
Let’s get a deeper understanding of stress with the “Flight or Fight” response and know more about online counseling for depression, anxiety, and stress.
American Physiologist Walter Cannon is attributed to the first description of the Flight or Fight response (the 1920s). This concept can be understood if we simply turn back the pages in time and revisit the lives of our ancestors.
In the olden days, humans lived in the wild and were required to make the choice between Flight or Fight in environments of danger. The body was thus attuned to the reaction of danger with raised anxiety levels.
However, the problem occurs when the body goes into this mode on a repetitive basis.
In the case of the ancestors, this was an automatic reaction to an event that they considered highly stressful. Frequent activation of the Flight and Fight response leads to increased levels of anxiety and creates many consequences leading to reactions that appear physically as well as mentally.
When a person feels threatened often, or experiences fright, the physical reaction results in an excess production of cortisol and hormones that go straight into the bloodstream. As this happens, the physical symptoms indicate an increase in the heart rate or faster breathing.
The Flight or Fight system (which has been present since the time of our ancestors) gets activated even in non-threatening situations. Now, this response may have been useful to keep the ancestors safe.
An increase in the “fight or flight” response due to non-life-threatening situations caused by one’s anxious behavior may lead to numerous health conditions.
Walter noted in this book, “Bodily changes in pain, hunger, fear, and rage” that animals released the adrenaline hormone when they felt threatened in the wild. There is an increase in the heart rate which leads to changes in the animal’s breath, affecting the flow of oxygen as well as the energy levels.
He wrote about how this reaction supported the animal to survive in the wild. The animal could thus choose whether to fight or flee from a situation that caused the animal intense fear.
Also known as the acute stress response, this is a physiological reaction that takes place when a person has gone through a stressful situation that creates the release of hormones which also prepare a person to be mentally present in the situation - either by deciding to confront the situation or moving away to safety.
The Flight or Fight response can sometimes have a positive effect leading to improved performance in any situation.
For example, a person learns ways to cope with the stress by preparing for a presentation with complete detailing to ensure the presentation is a huge success.
Anxiety can occur due to different issues. A person may feel anxious when they are under high levels of stress (office deadlines, multi-tasking, financial worries, relationship issues, etc.). Anxiety related to an examination or a new interview can be considered as normal levels of anxiety.
However, a person may also feel anxious for no obvious reason (overthinking, imagining the worst possible outcome). Sometimes, the trigger is often unknown. Many factors that affect and cause these levels of anxiety in a person.
If Daniel from our earlier example goes through the day through high levels of anxiety caused by situations that seem insignificant to Daniel, his capacity to handle his emotions and health is further reduced. Over time, Daniel may develop anxiety disorders that further affect his mood thereby impacting his personal and professional life.
For example, a person who is afraid of reptiles may experience acute stress upon seeing one. The body may get tense, there may be an increase in breathing with an increase in the pulse rate. A person may tend to flee the situation or deal with it by finding ways to remove the reptile from the area.
A person who suffers from anxiety or anxious feelings is prone to some of the common physical and emotional symptoms.
In some cases, severe forms of anxiety can lead to depression or panic attacks.
Anxiety can also appear differently among people. For example, a person who is afraid of the interview may display a tendency to talk continuously and fumble a bit. Others may tend to be awkward and withdraw or isolate completely. In other cases, a person may choose to “fight” (instead of the flight response) and they may confront the situation they are fearing.
Anxiety impacts the mind and body in different ways on an emotional and physical level. A constantly anxious person who experiences a faster heart rate or heavy breathing may find themselves suffering from blood pressure issues or hypertension in the long run.
On an emotional front, anxiety can lead to irritable feelings and this can make a person difficult to get along with! On a cognitive level, a person with anxiety tends to ruminate a lot and may overthink about their worry for a long period. They live in a constant source of worry and this keeps the anxious person occupied in their anxious world; making it difficult to connect with the external world.
On the personal front, the anxious person may turn aggressive in their approach to others. A person may turn hot-tempered or become agitated when things do not go their way.
Chronic anxiety thus can impact the lives of people in many ways. This is quite different from feeling anxious about bad weather before traveling to work or worrying about one’s examination results.
The problem arises when chronic anxiety prevents a person from living their life fully with the mind being shrouded in worry and fear. This type of anxiety may lead to anxiety disorders as explored in the next section of this blog.
Online counselling for depression, anxiety, and stress is often the best-suited method for greater internal balance.
There are different types of mental health disorders caused by chronic anxiety. While they are all conditions of the mind, it’s important to know that the treatment is possible through appropriate therapy. Let’s know the types and find ways to deal with anxiety.
Known as OCD, an Obsessive-Compulsive disorder is defined as a display of excessive levels of perfectionism, a need for orderliness, constant scrutiny of details, and a desire to control everything. This is visible when a person has a repetitive process about things such as constantly checking something, needing symmetry and order in the house, fear of germs, disturbing or unwanted thoughts.
OCD may thus appear in one’s actions or take over one’s thinking process. The anxiety makes a person perform repetitive activities such as having an uncontrollable process of negative thoughts (fear, obsession) or a person who repeatedly checks if they have the house keys in their bag. Many times, these thoughts are often irrational.
A person who has this OCD is often aware of their repetitive thoughts and behaviors but finds it difficult to manage them. Often, this may turn out to be ritualistic by nature. A person may find themselves constantly in the same train of thoughts (job insecurity, relationship issues) leading to depression.
Some mental health institutions mention that people with OCD may often tend to avoid people or may indulge in other coping mechanisms such as drinking or smoking to curb this obsessive behavior.
The symptoms of OCD may differ with each individual. It could be minor in some or excessive in others. With time, it can affect one’s anxiety levels taking it to a new high.
A person may display the following obsessive behaviors:
Due to these obsessions, the behaviors may result in:
A person with OCD may even tend to hoard items as they hold a deep fear of losing things. This can create problems and conflict of space with family members. The higher the severity of OCD, the higher the obsession and behavior patterns.
A panic attack occurs when the anxiety levels are severe. These are displayed through physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, sweating in some cases, or even shortness of breath that can make a person feel choked.
The panic attacks may be severe in some cases that may create a feeling of loss of control and can also make a person feel as if they are dying. A person may have repeated panic attacks and this can lead to a deeper sense of fear.
In most cases, a panic attack may last for 5 minutes and may extend to 20-30 minutes or so. The number of attacks may vary as per the severity of the anxiety levels.
A panic attack, though frightening, does not cause severe harm to the physical body.
For example, it may lead to lower blood pressure levels. Panic attacks are curable through professional guidance in the areas of mental health counseling and therapy.
Social Anxiety Disorder is a condition that is often linked to situations in the past or childhood days. Social anxiety is about having severe levels of anxiety about doing things such as conversing with people at a party or making eye contact at a presentation.
A person who experiences higher levels of SAD may end up isolating themself from the world. SAD should not be associated with slight feelings of nervousness that happens before an event or while preparing and presenting an important speech.
As mentioned earlier, slight feelings of nervousness and anxiety keep one alert and the emotions are quite natural for any human. SAD, however, runs deeper.
A person experiences the following things emotionally:
This type of social anxiety may be considered to be a natural form of awkwardness. Those who experience SAD in everyday situations often live in a sense of fear which revolves around being watched (as they walk, eat, or speak). It can also be connected to one’s childhood days wherein a person may have been bullied or humiliated in public or had controlling or abusive parents or caregivers.
In this case, the fear they hold on to is disproportionate to the actual threat that they perceive. A person who experiences this type of anxiety disorder displays low self-esteem levels, may tend to think negatively, be sensitive to criticism, and struggle with their social connections.
A person who displays symptoms of GAD is often the one who worries excessively about everyday situations in life. While some amount of worry is a natural part of human behavior, being obsessed and anxious about one’s financial situation or relationship issues is quite different from a general sense of anxiousness.
A person who experiences GAD may also tend to worry without a reason. For example, a person may worry a lot about a job interview going wrong even before the process has begun. This worry prevents the person from experiencing reality as it is while being unable to enjoy the present moment and accepting the challenge of proving their capabilities.
While the exact cause of GAD cannot be ascertained, a person may experience this worry due to a long family history of people with the same symptoms. They may have also faced stress in their early days, or illness as well as abuse.
A person who experiences GAD, often feels the following symptoms:
This type of anxiety disorder might also be connected to physical problems such as heart disease or thyroid disorder. More details on the physical issues are best ascertained by a consultation with a medical practitioner.
GAD can also be resolved by connecting with a mental health professional. Counseling as well as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are found highly beneficial. In extreme cases, medication may also be used along with alternative healing methods.
GAD symptoms can be reduced by following a healthy lifestyle, practicing meditation and yoga, as well as watching one’s diet and avoiding excess caffeine and alcohol.
Any person who experiences PTSD may have experienced trauma in the past or has recurrent flashbacks or nightmares around the event. The person thus experiences an uncontrollable thought process that is often triggered by the memory of the event. This affects a person’s daily processes and how they interact with the internal and the external world.
Support and care form to be a base to help any person cope with PTSD. However, any form of prolonged anxiety creates significant problems for an individual. The symptoms of PTSD may not appear immediately. Sometimes, it takes a couple of months for the symptoms to show. A person who experiences PTSD will experience these emotions for months even when they are not in stressful situations. These symptoms can last for months in some cases, whereas years for others.
Symptoms of PTSD
This may cause physical symptoms such as a faster heartbeat or sweating.
A person may also tend to display fear around the place or an object that is associated with the memory. They may get startled at noises around and hold a tense body language. They may also have moments of anger followed by an outburst on people around them. Their moods may vary and they may hold negative feelings about self and the world. They also tend to display guilty behavior with disinterestedness in the activities they once loved.
A person who experiences PTSD for over a month may find themselves affected in many areas of life. Some may even resort to substance abuse as a coping strategy and may find themselves depressed.
The National Center for PTSD mentions 7 or 8 out of every 100 people may experience PTSD at some point in their life.
PTSD can also be classified into 4 types of symptoms as mentioned below:
Intrusive Memories: An individual often experiences distressing memories of the event. The person feels the event occurs again and again (memories that repeat on a cycle), with nightmares. This causes many emotional disturbances.
Avoidance: A person often displays a tendency to avoid talking about the event. They also show avoidance behavior while meeting people or engaging in any activity that they associate with the event.
Negative Thinking: A person holds on to negative thoughts and feels unhappy about themself and the world. They also feel detached and have difficulty in relationships. Some may feel hopeless about the future and completely negative about their life. They may even numb out emotions or feelings and no longer enjoy the activities they once loved.
Changes in Reactions: As mentioned earlier, people may display a change in reactions such as being easily startled by a noise or being constantly alert. They have difficulty in concentration levels with anger management issues. They are also constantly guilty and may experience sleep issues.
PTSD can affect children as young as 6 years (or younger) with symptoms such as recurring thought of the event or nightmares.
PTSD may result in suicidal thoughts in some cases. A mental health professional will support a person to know techniques to manage PTSD.
Phobias: What happens when you experience a deep sense of fear and react strongly to something larger than the trigger itself? Phobias do just that. It’s an excessive fearful reaction to the source of one’s fear. Phobias often prevent a person from living life to their fullest as one may dislike certain situations or is fearful about certain objects or living things.
To the person experiencing phobias, the reaction is fearful when the person encounters the situation or object they fear the most. Often, the fear is disproportionate to the trigger. A person experiencing phobias is also aware their thoughts are often irrational but are unable to handle the same.
Symptoms of Phobias can include:
Phobias can be many such as the fear of heights (acrophobia), fear of crowded places (claustrophobia), fear of spiders (arachnophobia), fear of thunder or lightning (astraphobia), and more.
Normal levels of anxiety do not require therapy. Anxiety disorders of any form, however, do require consultation for therapy. In today’s time, there is a great amount of research on anxiety disorders and the world’s mental health practitioners offer counseling as well as therapy (certified/licensed practitioner only) with meditation.
The medication is offered in case anxiety disorders are quite severe. Anxiety counseling includes working with the counselor to understand the type of therapies available to manage emotions. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) along with a combination of medication may be prescribed as decided by the medical practitioner.
Therapy seeks the underlying areas of one’s anxiety and looks at ways a person can handle situations with improved coping strategies. It also gives one knowledge of tools they can use anytime they feel anxious in life.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, (REBT), Mindfulness, Dialectical Behavior therapy (DBT) Transactional Analysis etc is recommended for the treatment of anxiety disorders.
This treatment supports a person to identify and alter their negative or disturbing thought patterns and rectify the actions. A professional works with the client to use the techniques to address these thoughts, incorporate changes, work on actions and support people to focus on the present thoughts and beliefs held within.
The goal is to raise self-awareness, help the clients overcome destructive thought patterns, and move them towards a solution-focused mindset. These therapies thus treat the root of the issue supporting people to overcome their anxiety disorders. The process is structured while some medical practitioners may use anxiety medications to calm one’s emotions or physical reactions.
Two friends are requested to speak at the company’s annual awards. Here are two different reactions.
Friend 1: Wow! That’s a wonderful opportunity! I haven’t tried this before, but I so want to do it!
Friend 2 with anxiety: Oh! That sounds so good but I am sure I will make a fool of myself. I better decline the opportunity.
Friend 1 feels happy whereas Friend 2 feels anxious and sad.
The cognitive distortion here is that Friend 2 is expecting the worst outcome. Different Models and frameworks challenge this thought with a realistic thought, “If I try this, I may be a success! If people don’t like me, that’s ok, I will improve myself the next time!”
Mindfulness is another technique that is useful to bring focused attention to the present moment. The technique is about using the power of concentration and remaining detached and non-judgemental to the thoughts that flow by. Regular Mindfulness practice increases one’s ability to have clarity in thought. It reduces anxiety levels by empowering a person to stay in the present without fear and worry.
Counseling is one of the best and preferred methods to overcome anxiety. A counselor’s goal is to support you to learn techniques and build the skills required to identify emotions that do not help and work around them. A professional counselor works in a non-judgmental space wherein you can share your problems.
A counselor is empathetic and skilled to know the triggers and stressors. Counselors work with you to raise your awareness towards unhelpful behaviors, modify thinking patterns, increase motivation, and be a support system. You also learn ways to manage anxiety daily while taking small steps towards your goals.
A certified counseling professional needs to display their counseling skills for practice. Certified/Licensed professionals may further add more certifications in the areas of mental health and psychology. The typical process begins with learning at the graduate level, followed by a Master’s program and others who may pursue a doctorate.
For example, a professional counselor may need a Ph.D. or a Psy.D in their areas of specialization. Clinical psychologists are trained in theories and methods. The profession of counseling is different from psychiatry, wherein the medical professional has a specialization on the biological causes of mental disorders. They are also trained to use medicines.
A psychologist or a counselor may choose to work with a psychiatrist in case medicines are required. Psychologists are also trained in diagnosing anxiety and their evaluation will include details that support you to explore thought patterns, behaviors, and more.
The most common types of counselors include:
General Counselors: They are trained to support people on different issues such as work, relationships, mental health disorders.
Mental Health Counselors: They support in the areas of depression, anxiety, stress, OCDs, addiction, and more. They may opt to work with the family members as well.
Rehabilitation Counselors: They support differently-abled people in their coping strategies for the emotional pain or physical pain.
Marriage and Relationship Counselors: They support people to explore behaviors while understanding relationship dynamics, explore thought processes, and more.
Based in Pune, India, Mental Strength Professionals or MSPs are trained in different areas of counseling, coaching, psychotherapy, Mindfulness, NLP, and more.
They hold private counseling sessions for career, relationships, depression, anxiety, stress, worry, and many other anxiety issues. They support you to explore your own emotions in a structured manner while identifying triggers. You learn techniques that you can apply otherwise while discovering a whole new purpose in life.
MSPs support you to focus on the areas required while resolving past anxiety issues. You actively challenge your negative thoughts, with a realistic viewpoint on life, and a mentally strong attitude that makes you overcome anxiety with time.
Book an appointment online for virtual or face-to-face sessions for online counselling for depression, anxiety and stress, etc. You can connect with a Mental Strength Professional of your choice by filling in the details. Do read the FAQs for payment terms, refund policies, and more. The sessions are held online (owing to the pandemic) and are 100% secure.
A counseling session for a Mental Strength Professional begins from Rs. 2400 (18% GST extra) for 60 minutes, Rs. 3300 (18% GST extra) for 60 minutes, or schedule a direct consultation with the founders. Write to [email protected] to schedule a consultation with the founders and request details of the consultation fee.
There are many ways you can support yourself along with counseling or psychotherapy sessions.
Initiate a Lifestyle Change: Make an effort to exercise regularly, take breaks, have a healthy diet, and spend time on relaxation. Avoid caffeine and nicotine.
Manage Stress: Focus on emotion management. This raises your self-awareness levels towards your reactions to stress.
Meditate: Mindfulness meditation brings your attention to the present moment. Reserve time for this in your schedule.
Develop Meaningful Bonds: Ensure you stay connected with people who matter. You can connect online to talk about common hobbies or subjects of interest.
If you are feeling anxious, let’s talk. Connect with a Mental Strength Professional for online counselling for depression, anxiety and stress, now!