Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues and probably one of the most misunderstood, often neglected and dismissed.

We all experience anxiety to some degree. In fact, it has been well proven in the field of psychology that moderate levels of anxiety are actually helpful and can foster learning, help with problem-solving and productivity. However, when the anxiety becomes too high, relative to our resources and abilities to cope with stressors and changes in the environment, it becomes overwhelming leaving the sufferer feeling out of control and frightened.

Anxiety can manifest itself in various forms, some physical, some emotional. If you think about what you do when you are “nervous” or “worried,” which is really another way to say that you are anxious. Some people may bite their nails, play with their hands or crack their knuckles, others clean incessantly or keep themselves busy; some drink alcohol or use substances, while others try to meditate or write about their feelings.

We all have established ways to defend against or cope with feeling anxious but sometimes, they are not enough and when that happens, the anxiety manifests itself in what we call symptoms.


Panic attacks

Probably the most noticeable and known manifestation of anxiety is when you have a panic attack – your heart starts pounding, you may struggle to breathe, your body starts sweating, your hands are shaking, thoughts start running through your head at a hundred miles an hour, you feel like you are having a heart attack or you are about to die and you are absolutely terrified.


Difficulty concentrating and focussing

Another manifestation of anxiety is a difficulty in focusing and concentrating which can be seen when we find ourselves unable to stay on task at work, school or home. You may find yourself having a hard time starting a project, finishing a project or being easily distracted, unmotivated and unable to get yourself organised.


Difficulties sleeping

Finding it really hard to fall asleep and staying asleep is another common manifestation of anxiety. You may find yourself lying in bed, thinking and worrying about various aspects of your life, responsibilities you have, deadlines, money issues, romantic issues, family issues, anything that may be a cause for concern at the moment or you may be waking early and finding yourself unable to fall back to sleep.


Domatic symptoms and complaints

Sometimes, anxiety can manifest itself in the body in the form of stomach troubles, uneasiness, gastrointestinal complaints, headaches, fatigue, backache etc. In children and adolescents, in addition to somatic and physical complaints, the anxiety may manifest itself in behavioural difficulties and acting out at home, behavioural issues at school or problems with social interactions, to name just a few.


Other anxiety manifestations

For some people, the anxiety can become as severe as trichotillomania (a compulsive urge to pull out your hair, eyelashes or eyebrows), panic disorder, phobia (fear of certain objects, animals, people or situations, usually very common and normal with young children) or obsessive-compulsive disorder, all of which are your psyche and body’s attempt to cope with, and control the anxiety, unfortunately, unsuccessfully.


Coming to see a counsellor or psychotherapist

Coming to see a counsellor or psychotherapist will enable you to think about your anxiety and why it manifests itself in the way it does. In some talking therapies you can begin to understand why you respond to life in the way you do and what factor in your life keep it going.

It may be necessary to look beyond the symptom itself and to think about underlying issues such as your early life experiences and how they may have influenced your feelings of anxiety which you have carried into your adult life. There are likely to be factors in your current life which continue to enable it to manifest itself.

Understanding these aspects of yourself can help to make sense of your anxiety symptom and so reduce the power which keeps it going.

By coming to see one of our counsellors or psychotherapists at the Stephenson Centre you can begin to make sense of your anxiety and start to see your symptoms change.

Counselling for anxiety at the Stephenson Centre Ipswich Suffolk. Counsellor anxiety