Anxiety, Panic and Stress
Anxiety, stress and worrying don’t actually help you
There are very few people who’ve never felt anxiety, stress or panic. So many things in life can cause anxiety and worry – money, health, our family or friends, fear of meeting new people, fear of loss (of a job, a house, a relationship, of status); anxiety about making the wrong decision, fear of embarrassment or of what others think about us, insecurity about relationships, worrying about making a mistake; fear of being physically or emotionally hurt. Specific fears and phobias also make us anxious – fear of flying, of public speaking, or of needles – there are too many variations to set them all out.
Panic, anxiety and stress – it’s all adrenalin
Anxiety – and sometimes panic – are what happen when your body senses threat, fear and danger. This is known as the “fight or flight response”.
When you are afraid, the body releases adrenalin. It does this to put you in the best possible position to survive the “threat”. Adrenalin makes everything go faster – your heart, your breathing, and even your thoughts. Adrenalin makes the body more responsive – quicker at running away from the “threat” (“flight”) or more able to aggressively deal with it (“fight”). Other physical changes happen too – you become more aware of everything around you – your senses are sharpened, so that you respond more to noise or to what you see; your muscles become tense (because the heart is pumping your blood around more quickly, providing oxygen to the muscles – you might feel light headed or dizzy too); your might feel sick or have stomach ache or need the loo. These changes happen to help you survive the “threat” – you don’t run fast or fight well on a full stomach, so when they body feels that you may need to run or fight it tenses your muscles, and prepares to empty the stomach contents. In severe cases you might even actually be sick or need the toilet – or it may just feel like “butterflies”. But it’s all part of the body’s response – the body is trying to make you as safe as possible by putting you on the defensive and giving you the best chance of survival.
Evolution means we can ALL feel anxiety and stress
By running from a vicious animal or a falling tree, or fighting with an angry human or animal which they feared, our predecessors were more likely to survive to pass on their genes, which is why the trait still exists – if they didn’t feel fear and get that extra boost that adrenalin gives, they probably didn’t survive. There aren’t many people who get through life without feeling anxiety at some point. A little bit of fear and anxiety can even help you.
A little bit of anxiety is still good for us. Without it, we would get ourselves into dangerous situations, because we wouldn’t understand that there was danger. We need to be aware that there are consequences to our actions. However, it’s easy to get into the habit of ALWAYS being aware of potential danger, and of the possibility of things going wrong. That then leads us to over think and over analysze, believing that this will prevent problems from happening and keep us secure. It’s very quick and easy to go beyond the optimum level of anxiety, which actually helps to keep you safe, and get to the stage where it stops you from functioning as well as you should.
Modern Anxiety and Panic are usually NOT about physical threat
Most modern day anxiety and stress has nothing to do with physical threat. But your body doesn’t recognise this! Unfortunately your body responds in the same way to troubling thoughts and worries as it does to physical danger. Whilst anxiety and fear may help you to survive physical threats – boosting adrenalin, helping you to think fast and to move quickly – most modern day stess is about other threats – financial, emotional, social, about your health or your career. The adrenalin produced when you are stressed makes your thoughts race, round and round. You feel the urge to just “think things through”, to get things straight in your head, or to work out how busy you’re going to be tomorrow and how you’ll tackle things, or what that conversation you just had meant. The thoughts sometimes seem to go faster and faster. It niggles you and you can’t seem to stop thinking about it. But you never seem to resolve it. Thinking things through when you are anxious doesn’t seem to produce any positive result. Remember that the brain interprets these uncomfortable worrying thoughts as a threat, and produces adrenalin to “help” you. But panic, anxiety and stress simply makes life less pleasant, sometimes significantly so. It makes relationships difficult, stops you concentrating at work, affects your health and stops you enjoying the things you should enjoy.
Anxiety and Panic are often just a bad habit.
We are very good at developing habits. Think of brushing your teeth, tying your laces, or even driving the car down a long straight road that you’re familiar with. You don’t really need to pay full attention – it’s as if you’re on autopilot. The first time you did these things, chances are you really needed to concentrate. But the brain is lazy – it likes to take a short cut. It doesn’t want to have to re-invent the wheel every morning. So when we’ve been in a situation before, the brain tries to remember what we did the last time, so that it doesn’t have to work it out again from scratch. This is often helpful. But when the brain remembers that we have been anxious or felt panic in a situation before, it assumes that producing adrenalin will “help” in the situation when it happens again. The brain is trying to give you an “edge”, which is what it thinks the adrenalin will do. This can cause a phobia to develop, as we come to automatically associate the feeling of fear and panic with flying or dentists or driving or not being able to find a loo.
Just wanting to think things through is itself a habit which triggers anxiety
You may have developed a habit of feeling generally anxious in all sorts of situations, because whenever a troubling thought or worry occurs, you think that you just need to think it through, to get it straight. But it has just become a habit (because it’s what you always do) to think it through, whether it actually helps or not. And it ususally doesn’t. Instead, the brain recognises these worrying thoughts as “threats” and gives you adrenalin to help you cope. The brain also, wanting to save you the effort of working out how to feel, remembers how you felt last time you tried to think things through – and when it remembers you felt anxious, it assumes you need that shot of adrenalin again. But because thoughts are not things you can escape from, the only function of the adrenalin is to make your thoughts race – triggering further anxiety, in a vicious circle.
Hypnotherapy and hypnosis for anxiety, panic and stress
Hypnotherapy and hypnosis can help you to overcome anxiety, stress, and worry. Anxiety is a learnt response – you weren’t born anxious – ever seen a worried baby? No! You pick it up as you go along, being told to be careful, to watch out – that cars are dangerous (“Don’t run across the road!”), that other people are threats (“Don’t talk to strangers” “Don’t trust anyone”), that if we don’t work hard enough, and keep on top of things, we will fail in life (“if you don’t pass these exams you’ll never get a job”), that germs will make us ill or even kill us, that if we make a mistake it will be disastrous. There are too many examples to list. And there is of course some sense in planning and exercising caution – a little bit of anxiety can spur you on to accomplish things in life, and to avoid very dangerous situations. But if you suffer from anxiety, the amount of worry and stress and fear you feel is disproportionate. Most people have a little bit of anxiety, and can cope with it. But if you really suffer with anxiety, then you feel overwhelmed by worry, uncertainty, fear and apprehension. You are thinking all the time, about everything, and everyone. It feels very hard, if not impossible, to switch off the thinking.
Because the only effects of too much anxiety are negative – not enjoying yourself, unpleasant thoughts, physical sensations, not being able to focus, being unable to do what you set out to – then it makes perfect sense to unlearn being too anxious. Sometimes we misunderstand what is truly dangerous – just because it “feels” risky. Flying is a good example of this, but people can become overly anxious about anything – you name it, someone somewhere will be anxious about it. And someone else, somewhere else, will just love that thing. Spiders, cats, flying, buttons, heights – for some these things are terrifying, for others a real passion; something they think is wonderful. Whilst many things may trigger your anxiety, it is up to how you choose to respond to that trigger. Hypnotherapy, hypnosis and relaxation techniques are straightforward, common sense ways of learning to let go and overcoming anxiety, and there’s a huge amount of clinical evidence for their effectiveness.
Hypnosis to stop anxiety
Put simply, hypnosis teaches you to relax and let go. Not of what’s important – it doesn’t stop you from thinking; but it does stop you from over-thinking, over-planning, over-analyzing those things that you can’t control, or predict, or change. Remember that worrying doesn’t actually change anything. The things you fear aren’t prevented because you worry about them; the things you hope for aren’t more likely to happen because you worry about them not happening! So it makes sense to learn to let go of worrying. Once you have taken whatever practical steps you can to change things or to make plans, then hypnotherapy trains your mind to let go of further thoughts. First you learn to relax physically – this prevents the body from producing adrenalin – then your thoughts will slow down; over time, you will be able to think more clearly and realistically about the things which worry you. Also, you are more susceptible to suggestions about how to change your thinking, when you are in hypnosis.
Anxiety Symptoms and Panic Attacks
The short term effects of anxiety can include upset stomach, feeling exhausted, headaches/migraines, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, increased consumption of alcohol, cigarettes and proscribed drugs, aching neck and shoulders, palpitations, dry mouth, sweating and feeling physically sick or needing the toilet. Longer term problems include an increased propensity to heart problems, cancers and strokes due to suppression of the immune system. Sleeping patterns and fertility are often affected. Restless Leg Syndrome, tinnitus and IBS are made much worse by stress. Around half of IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome cases are thought to be caused by stress, and the vast majority of sufferers of IBS report that their symptoms get worse when they suffer stress.
To add to this unhappy list, stress at work is worsened because your lack of ability to concentrate, or your feelings of disinterest, make you unable to do your job to your full ability and hence more fearful of errors, and the fear of making mistakes at work adds to the feelings of stress, anxiety and worry. When you suffer stress at work, this may also have a knock-on effect on those working with you, causing others to experience anxiety, too. Anxiety often cause insomnia too as many people with stress, anxiety and panic start to worry at night, leading to insomnia and sleep problems. This is then added to the list of things you worry about.
Learning techniques for stress management, whilst in hypnosis, significantly lessens both short and long term risks associated with stress and anxiety. You will learn to let go, and to get away from the vicious circle of anxious thoughts.
The physical symptoms of Stress, Panic and Anxiety
Click onto this link for a list of the physical effects of anxiety and panic
These symptoms are often more severe when you have a panic attack
Any or all of the symptoms of anxiety may be experienced during a panic attack and some sufferers can interpret these very unpleasant sensations as being a sign of serious physical illness, particularly heart attack. This in turn worsens the anxiety, making a vicious circle. The symptoms of panic attacks, like all other forms of anxiety, are significantly improved by hypnotherapy and relaxation.
Around one in five of us will suffer with depression during our lives. Depression is far more than occasionally just feeling low, fed up or sad; it is important to distinguish clinical depression from normal mood changes, which everyone experiences. Depression is a constant state of mind which affects you for weeks, months or perhaps years, and many physical and psychological problems accompany it. You may feel hopeless, or that the depression will never stop, or that you have never been happy. You feel as if you have nothing to look forward to; perhaps you can no longer enjoy daily life – even those thing which you used to love doing. You feel tired all the time – yet when you go to bed you can’t sleep. You can’t just “pull yourself together” – anyone who says this to you has never experienced depression. The causes are not fully understood but are believed to be a combination of genetics, social factors (for example, experiences we had when growing up and also the way those around us reacted to those experiences) and reaction to life events such as bereavement, redundancy, or divorce.
Whilst feelings of sadness in response to life events is something we all experience, no-one needs to suffer from feeling depressed.
Symptoms of depression
These include fatigue, difficulty sleeping (for many sufferers, taking the form of waking early and being unable to get back to sleep, but also including not being able to get to sleep when you go to bed), lack of enthusiasm, weight loss, loss of interest in food, (although some sufferers overeat or resort to binge eating instead), feelings of lethargy, preoccupation with your own behaviour and excessive guilt, low self esteem, self-consciousness, distorted and pessimistic patterns of thinking, inability to make decisions, and loss of interest in sex.
Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy at Manchester Hypnotherapy
Depression, stress and anxiety are not merely responses to things which happen, but depend on your view of the world and your beliefs about your future. It is easy to think that stress and anxiety are just unavoidable responses to certain things which happen to us in life. Or perhaps you tell yourself that it’s just the way you were made. However this is true only to a degree. How we feel – whether we’re anxious or carefree, happy or unhappy – depends on how you understand the world around you and your beliefs about your future. Hypnotherapy cannot of course change the events which happen to you, but it is very successful in re-shaping your views and beliefs, which in turn will enable you to change how you react to those events, and how you feel about them. Once a full history has been taken and the most appropriate techniques within hypnotherapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy identified, going into hypnosis will help you easily, and with minimum effort, replace your negative, unrealistic, overly pessimistic, fearful, uncertain thoughts with more positive, appropriate and rational ones. Whilst in hypnosis you will imagine yourself in those situations which you have found very stressful or which trigger your feelings of anxiety and depression, whilst at the same time practising relaxation and breathing techniques. During hypnotherapy you will also imagine responding in new and different ways to situations which have previously troubled you, and by doing so, overcoming anxiety. You will be encouraged to practice new, positive ways of thinking using self hypnosis in order to combat panic, stress and anxiety.
The causes of stress, anxiety and depression are not fully understood but are believed to be a combination of genetics, social factors (for example, experiences we had when growing up and also the way those around us reacted to those experiences) and reaction to life events such as bereavement, redundancy, or divorce.
What about medication?
Modern antidepressants have far fewer side effects than older generation drugs. You may not be aware that modern antidepressants – SSRIs such as Prozac (Fluoxetine) and Citalopram (Cipramil) – also deal with symptoms of anxiety. These medications do not need to be taken indefinitely. Unlike older drugs which help anxiety – tranquilizers such as Diazapam- these drugs do not have possible side effects of making you drowsy or unable to copy with everyday tasks. Relaxation techniques, hypnosis and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) are the most studied forms of therapy for both anxiety and depression and have repeatedly been shown to be effective in their treatment. But if you feel that your anxiety is completely overwhelming, and you really cannot think about anything else, you should speak to your GP about the possibility of medication to get over the worst of your symptoms, in order to let you work effectively and make the most of CBT, hypnosis and relaxation techniques.
Hypnosis in south Manchester
The therapists at this south Manchester hypnotherapy clinic are Manchester’s top independently rated therapists in anxiety and phobia treatment. If you are looking for hypnotherapists in south Manchester to help stress and anxiety, claustrophobia, emotional problems such as jealousy and insecurity, panic attacks, or low self esteem, then go to any of the independent websites which list and give reviews of hypnotherapists (for example www.freeindex.co.uk – you can also see reviews on Google) and see what others say about us. If you would like further information about hypnosis in Manchester, for insomnia, tostop smoking, self esteem and confidence, depression, for help with weight loss, to nail biting, teeth grinding, or for any other problem, please call 07779 575 816 for a free, no obligation, confidential discussion.
Hypnosis and hypnotherapy in Didsbury, Manchester – convenient for Chorlton, Gatley, Cheadle, Stockport, Altrincham, Hale and all areas of south and central Manchester. Click here for further details ofhow to find us.