The general definition of anxiety in that of a feeling of worry, dread, tension, apprehensiveness or fear. Anxiety is common to all people and is quite normal.
However, the excessive form of it is where anxiety can become a mental health issue. When these thoughts or feelings get out of control, threaten to overwhelm you, result in panic attacks or begin interfering with your daily life, then it can be very helpful to see a professional therapist, of which we have several in our London-based therapy centre.
The most common form, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), is known to affect up to 5% of the UK population and you are up to five times more likely to suffer from this if you have a close relative who has the condition.
In addition, there are other types of anxiety such as social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder and phobias which can all be helped with through therapy.
What is an anxiety disorder?
An anxiety disorder is typically defined as anxiety that interferes with someone’s ability to function in everyday life.
For someone that has been diagnosed with a disorder, these feelings can overwhelm them. For some, this can be at a lower level over extended periods, or come in short bursts at more frequent intervals.
The latter of these two extremes are often referred to as panic attacks or anxiety attacks. Some people may experience both of types, but at different times.
When should you see an anxiety therapist?
Sometimes it can be difficult to decide whether your levels of anxiety are a normal part of everyday life, or something more concerning that you might require help with.
Below are some questions which you can ask yourself if you think your anxiety is becoming too much:
Have your worries kept you awake at night, more often than you would like?
Do you often have a feeling that something bad might happen if you do, or not do, something?
Do your worries distract you so much that they prevent you from enjoying work, relationships or social activities?
Do you often feel mentally overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion?
Do you have a constant feeling of fear, danger or dread that does not feel rational?
Do you find that you are “in your head” more often that you are “in the room”?
Do you often get so caught up in worry or fear that it causes you to become angry?
Do you feel on-edge, worried or tense for large parts of the day?
Do you often avoid everyday situations to avoid these feelings of anxiety?
Do you suffer from panic attacks? These can cause shortness of breath, a tight chest, stomach pains or other unpleasant physical sensations.
Do you find yourself drinking or taking drugs to deal with your levels of anxiety?
If you answering yes to several of these, then one of our London anxiety therapists might be able to help.
What are the symptoms of a panic attack?
The following are some basic symptoms that might occur when someone is having a panic attack:
Shaking or trembling
Sweating, chills or hot flushes
A racing heart or palpitations
Chest pain or discomfort
Nausea or upset stomach
Shortness of breath / fast breathing
Feeling dizzy or numb
A sudden increase in anxiety
Fear of dying or going crazy
A feeling of detachment to your environment
Symptoms will often come on very strongly and be accompanied by an overwhelming feeling of dread, worry or fear.
Panic attacks often last for up to 10 minutes and will pass, but it’s also possible that you may experience symptoms for up to 20-30 minutes.
Because they are the bodies response to a threat, they are normally associated with a release of adrenaline so it is unlikely your body will be able to sustain this for much longer than that.
Although panic attacks can feel extreme, even to the point of thinking you may be experiencing a heart attack, they are not physically dangerous so it is a good idea to remind yourself of this and that it will pass.
How can therapy help with anxiety?
The objective of the therapist will be to help you regain your ability to function in your everyday life without the feelings of anxiety or panic to overwhelm you. Sometimes people may find that medication helps, but the advantage of therapy for anxiety is that your therapist will work to discover the underlying cause, rather than simply reduce the symptoms.
An anxiety therapist will give you a set of tools that will help you cope “in the moment”, as well as helping you understand the triggers of your anxiety. This is not a quick fix and it will take time and commitment. But the more you put in to trying to resolve your suffering, the more you will get out of therapy.
What are the common types of anxiety disorders and therapy types?
Therapy for Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – You may have regular and consistent worries in your everyday life that you cannot control. Therapy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – You may experience urges, repetitive thoughts, or behaviours. Therapy Perinatal Anxiety or Perinatal OCD – You may experience anxiety about your pregnancy or in the first 12 months after childbirth. Therapy for Panic Disorder – You may experience regular panic attacks, leaving you feeling afraid or fearful. Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – You may experience anxiety that relates to a past trauma, including nightmares and flashbacks. Therapy for Social Phobias / Social Anxiety Disorder – You may become triggered by certain social situations such as work or leaving the house. Therapy for Health Anxiety – You may experience obsessions or thoughts related to having a particular illnesses, or illnesses. You may find yourself thinking you have a particular disease and conduct research into it. Therapy for Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) – You may experience obsessions that relate to your body or physical appearance.
How can I find the best anxiety therapist in London?
While all anxiety counsellors or therapists are trained to help with the most common disorders, some will also incorporate other techniques into their sessions. It is always a good idea to read their profiles and arrange a phone phone consultation, which most therapists offer for free.
If you do not have time or are not sure which anxiety therapist to choose, then we recommend you fill out our client enquiry form (see button at the top and bottom of this page) and we will gladly help match you with the right therapist.
Our London anxiety therapists are based in Hackney, but many clients travel across London to see therapists that are right for them.
What are the benefits of seeing an anxiety therapist?
You will learn to understand how to identify a panic attack, what triggers them and how to reduce their impact
You will learn techniques to help you become more relaxed and mindful, which can generally help reduce levels of anxiety
You will learn techniques and strategies that suit you as an individual, with your specific needs
You will learn what might trigger feelings of panic or anxiety so that you can implement the techniques you have learned
You will learn to understand what brings about levels of stress and how to reduce this in order to reduce your overall level of anxiety and fear
You will learn how to create a different relationship with your thoughts
Learn to be more focused on the present so that you can identify thoughts as they occur
What types of therapy can help with anxiety?
Psychotherapy is one of the most proven way of helping to treat anxiety disorders and depending on the type of training and experience of your therapist, they may employ a wide range of techniques.
One of the most common is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT refers to a family of therapies which focus on helping you change your thought patterns and habits from primarily negative to positive.
CBT can be as effective as medications and it has been shown to be very effective for several common psychological conditions, including anxiety, phobias, panic attacks and OCD.
CBT for panic attacks
Panic attacks are often caused by the bodies fight or flight system that activates when a person is in immediate danger. Sometimes these brain signals can become triggered when there is no physical danger, yet cause the person to experience a wide range of symptoms associated with a panic attack.
CBT therapy for panic attacks and anxiety can reduce the frequency and strength of the attacks by helping you become less reactive to the triggers that cause the attack.
You will begin to learn what happens to your body during such an attack, which can help you gain more control over the experience.
Sometimes habits can worsen both the trigger and symptoms of the panic attack and CBD can help you change those habits and the thought processes related to them.
Simply put, CBT for panic attacks can help you:
1) Gain control over the thoughts leading up to a panic attack
2) Gain control over your reaction to the panic attack
3) Gain control over the thoughts that are occurring in your mind during the panic attack
The goal of the CBT therapist is to change these thoughts from negative into positive to begin to reduce the symptoms and frequency of these attacks.
What else can help reduce anxiety or panic attacks?
Cut down or stop alcohol consumption
Eat well balanced, energy boosting meals at regular intervals
Improve your gut health, which can often affect your mood
Get plenty of exercise
Get plenty of restful sleep
Reduce or cut down on your caffeine intake
Avoid stimulants or recreational drugs
Practice meditation, mindfulness or relaxation techniques regularly
Be aware of your breathing and take long, slow breathes
Do your best and don’t aim for perfection
Find a way to laugh, either with friends of watching comedy on TV
Volunteer in your local community
Spend quality time with family or friends who you feel safe wit
Where can I learn more about anxiety disorder and treatment?
This video below quite a useful summary and Mind.org.uk has a good anxiety and panic attacks page to help you self-manage if you’re not quite ready to take the step of therapy just yet:
And this video goes into a little more detail about specific symptoms:
Psychotherapy and Counselling:
Massage and Complimentary Therapies:
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