An anxiety disorder is more than just being nervous. In today’s fast paced and increasingly complex world, it’s no wonder that feelings of anxiety can attend even the most commonplace daily activities. A certain degree of anxiousness or excitement can often be a normal response to a stressful, important, or emotionally climactic event, but did you know that constant or crippling anxiety could be the sign of a serious psychological condition? When overwhelming anxiety begins to limit one from living up to their full potential or begins to interfere with work or home life, it’s important to see a professional for a comprehensive check-up and, if necessary, anxiety therapy.
What is anxiety? Anxiety, or intense feelings of overstimulation, panic, or fear, is a natural and evolutionary response to difficulty related to what behavioural psychologists and anthropologists call the “fight or flight” response. This refers to that adrenaline-rich experience of a tremendous surge of energy that even our earliest ancestors felt in times of war or a potentially deadly environmental danger. When the human brain perceives a threat, the body undergoes rapid chemical changes which result in a surge of adrenaline in the bloodstream. This surge widens eyes, allowing the intake of more visual information to better identify threats, assists respiration to increase the capacity for combat or hasty retreat, amps up aggression to assist in dispatching foes, and reduces sensitivity to pain to prevent injuries from hampering efforts to either fight or escape.
Modern man’s problem. Although this usually quite practical biological response has been effective in the past and is still effective in specific situations, as man’s social environment has become more complicated, so too has his responses to perceived threats. Unfortunately, modern man often misreads emotional threats in normal occurrences, hence improperly triggering the stressful fear response of “fight or flight.” The more this pattern becomes habit, the more an individual will begin to suffer the ravages of an anxiety disorder. This is precisely where anxiety therapy can be of great assistance.
What is anxiety therapy? Anxiety therapy is the methodological treatment of such stress responses. This therapy approaches the correction of these maladapted responses on several levels simultaneously. Firstly, this treatment seeks to sooth the mind of the frazzled patient by talking through stressful situations and their ideal responses rationally and logically. Through repeated mental engagement of troubling situations in a safe, calm environment, patients begin to realize the irrationality of their stressful fears. This stage alone often results in patients feeling much calmer and more at peace with the world. Secondly, this type of therapy seeks to address behavioural causes of the individual’s trouble with anxiety. Poor habits, such as alcohol abuse, smoking, drug use or subpar communication habits are addressed in order to help break the cycle of anxious self-entrapment. Patients completing this phase of treatment can expect to feel freer and more capable day to day. Finally, this therapy addresses the emotional underpinnings of anxiety, encouraging the patient to develop a more healthy self-image and so decrease their dependence on self-destructive behaviours which previously left them feeling helpless.