What is anxiety? Anxiety is our body’s way of saying – “something is not right.”

Everybody has experienced anxiety at some time or other. It occurs when we have a test, when we need to perform or step outside our comfort zone. Everyone has experienced the feeling of butterflies in their stomach or feeling worried.

But sometimes anxiety can cause a level of symptoms that can start to impact daily functioning. You may start to avoid doing things that trigger that anxious feeling. Sometimes, you may notice your heart racing, have difficulty sleeping, short of breath or feel sick in the stomach. ‘

Anxiety causes physical symptoms – anxiety can cause your heart to race, to breathe shallowly, to sweat, feel nauseous, experience cold hands or feet, dry mouth, bladder urgency as well as racing thoughts or even feelings of panic. These are known as the “Flight or fight” response. They are our body’s way of managing a physical threat and help to escape from danger. Children in particular, will often report the physical symptoms without associating it as an anxiety or worried response.

But sometimes these symptoms can occur when there is no apparent physical danger, but when there is other stress. Some people may even feel like they are having a heart attack. If it is anxiety, then the symptoms can increase as well, as you are now anxious that something is physically wrong.

It is always worthwhile seeing your GP if these symptoms persist or if they occur strongly. If in doubt, rule it out. GP’s will check your heart, they may also do blood tests. Being too high or low in iron, low in Vitamins D, B, Zinc or Magnesium can impact mood and cause depression or anxiety like symptoms. Thyroid or blood sugar levels can also impact mood. The GP will consider all diagnoses but may conclude that anxiety is the best explanation and suggest medication or a referral to a Psychologist.

What can a Psychologist do to help?
A Psychologist does “Talk therapy”. They help to teach skills to manage symptoms of anxiety and to prevent it spiralling. They may help you to identify stressors and look at stress management techniques. The primary therapy style used for anxiety is CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This focuses on the thoughts and behaviours associated with anxiety to help to change how you respond, with the aim of improving overall wellbeing and functioning. Evidence based research shows that CBT has longer lasting benefits than the use of medication alone. All Psychologists are trained in the use of CBT.

The Madison Practice has 3 psychologists working across the Northbridge and St Ives practices.

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