A little anxiety focuses our attention. It can serve us well by narrowing the focus to what needs to be done with an intensity of detail. It can provide the incentive that leads us to complete tasks quickly. However, when anxiety is present in abundance things can go awry. Attention can be too narrow or constantly shifting. An overly anxious person can explore unlikely thoughts that result in behaviours that remove some of the joys of life.
Anxiety is not black and white
Anxiety is mostly the fear of what may happen in the future. Our attempts to control imagined future events leads to us doing behaviours that can look odd or unnecessary to others. If I worry that I am going to have a car accident then I might purchase the safest car I can afford. I will use a seat belt and indicate when changing lanes. These are all behaviours in response to a fear. They are fairly rational behaviours and these are now culturally acceptable behaviours. If I started wearing a helmet when I drive then my behaviour would be seen as odd unless I was in a racing car. The context and the culture can define the fuzzy grey line of what is defined as anxious behaviour. You would see a psychologist for the treatment of anxiety when you believe that what you are doing and what you are thinking crosses the line of where it is doing you more harm than good.
Anxiety comes in many flavours
There is a book that lists all the different types of anxiety. Each flavour of anxiety has a number and a name. There is a short checklist of criteria to see if you qualify. Many people can qualify for more than one flavour of anxiety at one time. Much like a double cone of gelato. Each one may look different by the essence of what it is remains undeniable. The naming of the flavours can be useful because it helps predict what the anxiety will taste like and how it might be best treated. But the flavour of gelato will change from store to store. A generalised anxiety disorder in one person may resemble the generalised anxiety disorder in other but they are not going to be the same. When you buy a good gelato the name is a clue to what it tastes like. A homemade pistachio made with real nuts is not going to compare with a budget mass produced copy. They have the same label but they are different in many ways. This is why a diagnostic anxiety label can be useful guideline for a psychologist and yet sometimes misleading and inadequate.
Treatments for anxiety
Our moods are constantly shifting and life events can help increase or decrease our anxiety. Like the tide there are constant highs and lows of anxiety and sometimes anxiety can be resolved by itself. For others anxiety remains too high for too long and medication or psychological intervention can help reduce the intensity of the anxiety. In many cases your GP may prescribe a common antidepressant medication as solution. Your GP may also suggest visiting a psychologist. Both treatments are roughly as effective as each other.
You suffer from anxiety when your current thinking and behaviour in response to a future fear is doing you more harm than good. In general psychologists will help you think and behave slightly differently that helps you to reduce the fear. To book an appointment to help manage your anxiety contact Dr Mark Sykes on (07) 34115445.