Image by Max van den Oetelaar
 

Research suggests that anxiety is the most common psychological issue that people experience. It is an emotion, a complex mix of cognitive, physiological, emotional, and behavioural symptoms that stems from the stimulation of our innate fight, flight, or freeze response.

The fight, flight, or freeze response is controlled by our atavistic brain. Early humans needed to be able to fight, freeze (to make ourselves less visible to) or run away from a source of physical danger and our bodies were finely tuned to perform those functions. Even today, without the fight, flight, or freeze response, we would not be able to keep ourselves safe from potential harm. This same fight, flight, or freeze response can occur equally in reaction to psychological and physical stressors as the unconscious mind often cannot differentiate between the source of the perceived threat.

 

It’s important to remember that whilst discussed mainly in the negative, anxiety, like stress, can also be useful if it’s biologically or socially appropriate. Anxiety becomes an issue when it becomes amplified in intensity, lasts for an extended period, or starts to pervade into all areas of our lives. Once anxiety begins to interfere with everyday life, prevents us from completing tasks, or forces us to completely avoid situations or stimuli, it is deemed pathological. Anxiety falls within a wide-ranging spectrum and is categorised depending upon the severity and intensity of symptoms exhibited.

Panic disorder is characterised by intense and uncontrollable physical symptoms. Often reported as a ‘sense of impending doom’, those experiencing an episode of panic may often fear they will die during an attack. Anxiety experienced in this form has the added issue of being self-perpetuating. This vicious cycle of negative thoughts, unless interrupted, will drive the underlying physiological process resulting in one attack after another.

Agoraphobia is a variant of panic disorder where the individual actively avoids situations which may trigger a panic attack. For this reason, those living with agoraphobia may avoid shops, large groups of people, and often, will not even leave their homes.

Simple phobias also fall under the umbrella term of anxiety. Specific phobias, such as a fear of heights may serve to keep us safe from harm, however, when a phobia of heights leads to us not crossing bridges, or refusing to fly on a plane, this seriously affects the life choices we can make for ourselves.

Social phobias or anxieties may protect us as children where we may become alarmed and cry if we are approached by a stranger. As an adult however, if we are so concerned about the judgement that might be passed on our character that we avoid meeting new people or socialising, then this becomes life-limiting.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is often very poorly understood. OCD is complex and marked by a range of obsessions and / or compulsions. Ritualistic behaviours such as turning a light switch on and off a predetermined number of times may be carried out in an effort to control thoughts as those living with OCD may believe that their acts or omissions may lead directly to untoward consequences for themselves or others.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) are characterised by intense anxiety symptoms including flashbacks to the traumatic event and might develop, for example, after being involved in military action or surviving a natural or humanitarian disaster. Nurses, Doctors, Police, and Firefighters also account for a high volume of those who live with these conditions. PTSD and CPTSD can have a delayed onset and clients may struggle to find a connection between their symptoms and the traumatic event or events that precipitated them.

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterised by a sense of persistent worry about everyday events and the possibilities of what might come to pass. Those living with GAD have wide-ranging, constant, severe, and out of control concerns.

Finally, hypochondriasis results from us interpreting any physiological symptoms that we experience as being serious or life-threatening and is characterised by constantly Googling everyday symptoms, frequently attending for medical tests, and seeking reassurance from both those around them and medical professionals.

As well as the physical symptoms already discussed, anxiety can also cause:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Increased heart rate

  • Hypertension

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Stomach pain

  • Headaches

  • Migraines

  • Erectile dysfunction (ED)

  • Malaise

  • Insomnia

  • Sweating

  • A dry mouth

  • Weight gain or loss

Psychological symptoms include:

  • Feelings of overwhelming panic

  • Feeling a loss of control

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Anticipating the worst

  • Feeling tense

  • Irrational thoughts

  • Ruminating thoughts

  • Uncontrollable thoughts

  • Loss of sex drive / libido

  • Arousal disorders / anorgasmia

  • Frequent nightmares

  • Catatonia

 

As many of these symptoms can also be an indication of an underlying physical or psychological issue, it may be the case that clients must seek GP advice before beginning a course of hypnotherapy to ensure that there are no underlying medical issues that may be causing these symptoms. In line with this, those living with more severe anxiety-related conditions such as agoraphobia, OCD, PTSD, CPTSD, and panic disorder may well benefit from hypnotherapy as an adjunct to counselling or psychotherapy, but it is unlikely to be fully beneficial as the sole treatment option with these types of conditions.

Any episode of anxiety where the threat is poorly defined or has passed can be calmed by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system response. This knowledge, when supplied to clients, can be incredibly helpful in letting them know that the fight, flight, or freeze response and its associated, uncomfortable somatic symptoms are natural, not something to be feared, and with time and education, can be placed under their control.

Hypnotherapy can allow you to explore the origins of your anxiety symptoms, increasing your understanding of the physiological and psychological causes of why you feel the way you do. You will also be taught coping strategies such as anchoring, breathing, and grounding techniques that will enable you to manage your anxiety on a day-to-day basis. Through achieving a state of deep relaxation and undergoing a wide range of hypnotherapeutic techniques, you will be left feeling invigorated and full of confidence that you have regained control of your own body and mind for good.

This course of hypnotherapy can usually be completed over four to six sessions depending on your presenting issue.  Sometimes, clients suffering with anxiety cannot pinpoint it's cause and may require more in depth techniques such as regression to seek out a root cause. If this is the case, we will discuss this after the first few sessions as an option to enable you to get the results that you desire and deserve. As part of your comprehensive anxiety management program, you will be sent voice recordings of your sessions at various stages so that you can listen to them between sessions to re-enforce what you are learning and to provide ongoing support should you need it again in the future.

 

Please feel free to contact me or to launch a chat if you require any more information. Alternatively, if you are ready, click the button below to book your free, no obligation initial consultation.

I look forward to meeting you and working with you soon!