How psychotherapy can help with anxiety
It’s natural to feel anxious when something unexpected or difficult is happening in our lives or to worry about significant current or future life events. However, sometimes anxiety can become overwhelming and can really impact on our daily lives and relationships. Worrying excessively about something like health, having or fearing panic attacks, finding it difficult to sleep or relax, can all be symptoms of anxiety. Sometimes we can have symptoms for many years without realising it, but some trigger, such as a bereavement or a major life change, can tip us over into constant anxiety or panic. It can also be hard to understand when the anxiety is not attached to any particular event i.e. ‘Generalised Anxiety’, where excessive worrying is the main symptom. For many, excessive worry can be at the heart of anxiety and worrying itself can be a way of avoiding more negative emotions. For example if our minds are taken up with constant worrying it can distract us from the emotional effects of grief, loss, sadness, trauma etc.
There are many things that people do to try and manage their anxiety e.g. mis-use alcohol or drugs, over work or exercise excessively. Sometimes the mind tries to find ways of coping with the anxiety and intrusive thoughts and disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) will begin to emerge.
Psychotherapy is an effective option for treating anxiety. It can help to identify what may be triggering the anxiety and to put in place ways to help the person manage the psychological, emotional and physical effects. Psychotherapy can provide a safe place to explore how life experiences may have set up emotional responses and ways of thinking that are perpetuating the anxiety. Studies have shown that a combined approach, using cognitive therapy (CBT) to identify and change maladaptive thought patterns and using psychodynamic therapy to explore interpersonal and emotional issues, are most effective for achieving longer term relief. Sensations and movements related to traumatic event (s) can also be held in the body resulting in anxiety. Psychotherapy can help to access these memories in a way that is safe and supports the person to make sense of these and come to terms with what has happened to them.
Marina Hunt MSc Psychotherapy
Accredited Psychotherapist (IACP, IAHIP, EAP)
Nice Study – Generalised Anxiety Disorder in Adults (2011) (British Psychological Society & Royal College of Psychiatrists)
Trial of Integrative Therapy for Generalised Anxiety Disorder (2008) .( Newman, Castonguay, Borkovec, Fisher, Nordberg).
The Body Remembers (2003); B. Rothschild