We have all been there - the anxious, worried feeling before a big change occurs or before you have to speak in front of a large group of people. Anxiety is a natural reaction to stressful situations, and can even be helpful when it occurs in an appropriate amount and at the right times, such as before an interview or presentation. However, many people feel this kind of anxiety, fear and worry outside of these challenging situations and without a reasonable cause.

Anxiety is not a single condition, but rather an umbrella term that is used for a group of related conditions; such as phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorders. Anxiety is a state which affects the bodily responses, emotions and behaviours of an individual, creating feelings of fear, worry, and unease. This can often becomes so influential over your day-to-day life, that it begins to affect your mood, relationships, and responsibilities.

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterised by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for this concern. If you suffer from GAD, you may expect the worst and have difficulty suppressing constant worry about health, finances, relationships, work or study. Most likely this fear is unrealistic or out of proportion to the situation.

Other common experiences within GAD and other anxiety disorders include:

  • Constant and excessive worrying
  • Hot and cold flushes
  • Increased heart rate or tightening of the chest
  • Finding everyday activities (going to work, socialising with friends and family etc) difficult due to the constant worry
  • Feeling irritable, restless or on edge without a particular reason
  • Being unable to focus
  • Muscle tension
  • Feeling tired, weak, light-headed or dizzy without any particular reason
  • Difficulty sleeping

Given everyone experiences short periods of anxiety as a normal part of life, sometimes the symptoms of anxiety are not immediately obvious and can develop over time. It can be difficult to distinguish between what is considered a normal level of anxiety and when the anxiety has developed into a problem.

However, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and feel as though you are not functioning at your best, don't put it off any longer. It is important to seek help from a practitioner so that you are emotionally supported and equipped with evidence-based techniques to work through anxious feelings and enjoy life to the fullest again. The practitioners at VCPS can provide support by developing a treatment plan that may include:

  • A comprehensive assessment of your background, experiences and current functioning to determine whether you are experiencing a form of anxiety
  • Education on anxiety, its common symptoms and the best evidence-based techniques to manage it as it occurs
  • Relaxation and mindfulness training
  • Identifying any thoughts or behaviours which are contributing to your anxiety, and working to replace these with more positive ones
  • Gradually exposing you to the anxiety-provoking stimuli in order to remove the anxious feelings that are attached to it
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