Anxiety: When talk therapy is not enough..
Better understand the causes, impact, and solutions, of anxiety.
© 2016 Phoebe Hutchison
I’ve lived with anxiety; I previously had panic attacks. I understand the helplessness, the frustration, and feeling out of control, not to mention the numb face, the blurred vision, and confused thinking. Nowadays, as a crisis counsellor and author of two self-help books, I help many clients with anxiety. I know you can improve. How? I’ve seen it, and I’ve experienced it. You don’t have to be trapped in this state forever… but you DO need to seek help.
Symptoms of Anxiety:
Your heart races; you get the sweats… Your mind is uncontrollable, often racing or forgetful; it’s difficult to concentrate. Your adrenal glands are often at full speed, and you are reacting with ‘fight and flight’ too often. You feel like at any moment you could malfunction or explode, so you avoid many situations and people. Your emotions are often out of control; the panic overcomes you, and with it you may feel disconnected from your surroundings, dizzy, sick in the stomach, or have chest pains. Your sleep and appetite are disrupted, leaving you feeling unwell and fatigued.
Impact of Anxiety:
This anxiety may impact your work, relationships, belief in yourself, and trust in life. Many people with anxiety ‘self-medicate’ or attempt to escape, with drugs or alcohol. Sadly, drugs or alcohol further add to the neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain. You feel mental, but you are not! You are a victim of circumstance. You are still suffering from the past intolerable situation that has become deeply ingrained in your subconscious. (Most people don’t understand you… I do. There is help).
Causes of Anxiety:
At the heart of most anxiety is trauma, even from ten or twenty years ago. But the impact of the trauma is deeply ingrained in your subconscious, causing a fear based belief system which has changed your perception of life and impacted your speech, behaviour, and reality.
What are some possible reasons for your anxiety?
- Childhood abuse (Physical, Verbal or Sexual)
- Witnessing a traumatic incident
- Being involved in a car accident
- Negative thinking (habitual)
- Abusive relationship (Past or current)
- Diagnosed Conditions: Depression, OCD, PTSD, Personality Disorders, Bi-Polar, etc,.
- Acquired brain injury or Large blow to head
- Past heavy drug or alcohol abuse
- Past Bullying
- Past trauma when you felt powerless – Event or Natural Disaster
Impact of Trauma:
When traumatized, you will often have flashbacks, sleep disruption, nightmares, avoidance of people and places, anger, guilt, shame, low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness, and maybe thoughts of suicide.
When you have significant trauma, your body replays the traumas like a record player that is stuck – your trauma plays over and over. As a consequence, your body gets trapped in the world of triggers. You may frequently find yourself becoming hypervigilant, fearful, jumpy, on edge, and of course, angry. It doesn’t take much, and you are like a volcano erupting. Standard counselling techniques may not be enough to end this torment. Your anxiety may be the result of years of trauma, or it could be a part of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, where you have been in a ‘life death’ situation. Maybe you didn’t view an event as serious, but your mind/body are still having trouble resolving and processing this. You need an expert in trauma; or someone who is trained in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or someone who works on three levels: Mind, Subconscious Mind and Body. (More on this later).
What can you do to help yourself right now?
- LISTEN TO AND CHALLENGE YOUR THOUGHTS
With over 70,000 thoughts per day, this is going to be a challenge. You have been programmed by friends, family, teachers, and life, to see yourself and life a certain way – either negative or positive. You are also programming yourself every day. It’s vital to listen to your thoughts, to ensure you are not criticising yourself or having making incorrect assumptions about circumstances. You may need help, using CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) with a counsellor or psychologist, to improve your thoughts, to ensure you don’t get into the habit of ‘black and white’ thinking, etc., which just inflames anxiety.
Aim for at least three 30 minute brisk walks per week, to improve the balance of serotonin and dopamine in your brain. These are key in improving you sense of well-being. Also, when you exercise, you are actively reducing cortisol, which is a stress hormone that makes anxiety worse. In addition, exercise creates endorphins, which is nature’s way of making you feel great, and emotionally more resilient.
- GIVE YOUR BODY REST
Anxiety causes an overload on many of your organs, your nervous system, and your adrenal glands. Try listening to music or using meditation to slow down or distract yourself from erratic thoughts. Take time out daily, just for you, to focus on relaxation, your hobbies, and rejuvenating. Support your overwhelmed body, to stay well and avoid illness that is common from anxiety. Rest the body, and the mind will follow.
- EAT HEALTHY AND REGULAR MEALS
Quality carbohydrates and proteins are key to improving your serotonin levels, ensuring you have continued strength, and that your blood sugar levels are more consistent. Many people with anxiety skip meals, and don’t eat well, adding to the overload on the body.
- SIT IN THE SUN
Aim for fifteen minutes daily in the sun. This is great to help you absorb vitamin D, and make you more relaxed. Being kind to yourself is key to changing your life. When you start with small steps, these can become big steps.
- LIVE FOR YOU
Constantly ask yourself, ‘What do I feel like doing right now?’ Too many people live for others, leaving them feeling controlled or overwhelmed. When you feel unheard, disrespected, or manipulated, this sense of powerlessness only adds to your fatigue, and contributes to anxiety. Take your power back.
- ASK FOR HELP
ealthy emotional boundaries are important in improving our emotions. If you need help, reach out for help. Anxiety is exhausting, and you may need help in many areas of your life, while you are transitioning.
- STOP BEING SO HARD ON YOURSELF
You didn’t ask to be traumatized, did you? No-one asks for anxiety. This happened TO you. It’s not your fault, but you can get help. You are not inadequate; you are suffering. You usually can’t fix this alone. Reach out for help.
- SEE YOUR DOCTOR
See your doctor and ask for the Mental Health Plan, so that you may get FREE (or subsidized) 6-10 sessions with a psychologist who specialized in trauma and anxiety. The doctor may recommend medication to improve an imbalance of neurotransmitters in your brain, such as Serotonin or Dopamine.
- GO DEEP – GET PROFESSONAL HELP FOR YOUR TRAUMA WITH A SPECIALIST
Following are three techniques that can help reduce trauma, by working not just with thoughts…but working with The Mind, The Subconscious Mind and The Body. These ‘deep’ methods have caused many, (including myself), to experience profound healing and change. Feel free to Google or YouTube these techniques, to learn more and find the psychologist/therapist in your area that specializes in one of these three techniques:
(Founder Peter Levine): Learn to heal trauma by working with a somatic trained therapist to regulate emotions and body, in the here and now.
EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization
(Founder Dr Shapiro): Learn to heal trauma by re-processing the memories in the subconscious, by working with a therapist trained in EMDR.
(Founder David Grand): Learn how the eyes and subconscious work together to find the spots of trauma in the subconscious, then release and re-process these emotions and trauma by working with a therapist trained in Brainspotting. www.brainspottingaustraliapacific.com.au
Healing the past I want you to really enjoy your life and experience more peace, control, and happiness, without daily panic and anxiety. My second book, Are You Listening? Life is Talking to You, has helped many feel re-connected to life again. It all starts with you… I want you to have the best life possible, and for that reason, I spent five years writing this book – for those in crisis. Twenty years ago, I was in crisis. With these tools, and with a little help from a trauma expert, healing is possible.