Anxiety and phobias will often have a detrimental effect on your life – both at work or socially. Life becomes more challenging when you have to contend with an anxiety or phobia as well as the hassles of every day life.
Anxiety disorders and phobias can cause disproportionate suffering of apprehension, stress and worry. Not just the sufferer but to the people they are in contact with.
It is possible that about 10% of people in the Western World have a phobia. It is reckoned that approximately one in six people will have an anxiety disorder at some point their life.
Much of the anxiety and fear are tied up with a very normal and natural reaction – the ‘fight or flight’ response.
Full information is given on the Anxiety and Phobia pages below.
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The ‘Fight or flight’ Response
Anxiety and fear are designed to protect you from harm or danger. If you feel under threat, you become anxious which triggers the release of the hormone adrenalin. This causes your heart to beat faster and blood pressure to rise. This enables blood to be rapidly pumped to where it’s most needed, your muscles. Your breathing increases to provide the volume oxygen required for life struggle. Your mouth may feel dry, your digestive system is drained of blood as it is pumped to your muscles. Your senses become heightened and your brain becomes more alert so everything may appear in slow motion. Fuel in the form of carbohydrate and lipids are released into your bloodstream.
You are now ready to take action either by running for or fighting for your life. This is the ‘fight or flight’ response. When the danger has passed, other hormones are released and your body returns to a more relaxed state.
The response is brilliant when reacting to a real threat but is not so if you run away from public speaking, a driving test or exams. You may evade having a blood test or injection, miss a holiday flight and many other scenarios. If there is no real threat then you have no need to actually run away or fight. This is a real problem as your body needs you to do that otherwise the effects of adrenaline stay for longer so you feel agitated or aggressive for a longer period of time.
Panic attacks (panic disorder)
One of the major symptoms of severe anxiety is panic attacks, (anxiety attacks). These are often described as a sudden and dramatic intense surge of fear. Symptoms may include chest pains, pounding heart, breathing difficulties, dizziness, nausea, pure terror, fear of dying or losing control, hot flushes or shivering chills plus others. These panic episodes can be extremely frightening and often confusing to the sufferer.
The experience of the suffer can be so terrifying that many will make extraordinary efforts to avoid any situation that may elicit an episode of panic disorder. Sufferers of panic/anxiety attacks frequently worry about the consequences of their attacks – they may believe they are having a heart attack, losing control or ‘lost the plot’.
How can you control an anxiety or phobia?
Anxiety and panic attacks are involuntary so you will almost certainly fail to prevent it happening. It is like trying to stop blinking you will always fail. You can try your hardest, but the innate non-conscious part of the mind will override your futile efforts and the ancient ‘fight or flight’ mechanism will kick in again. Some people will try using distraction techniques, others attempt to avoid the “triggers” to prevent the reactions happening. Commendable as these methods are they will, almost always, fail as the problem has not been eliminated.