Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health difficulties, but it remains misunderstood and people with anxiety often feel alone in their struggles. We hope this information helps explain things a little. For further information about anxiety disorders, visit our Guides and Articles.

What is Anxiety?

How Anxiety Helps Us

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It can help us take quick action in emergencies.

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It can help us stay alert and vigilant to danger. For example, if we hear a bump in the night, anxiety will increase our attention to sound and movement.  

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It can give us the motivation and sense of urgency that we need to meet deadlines and get things done on time.

When Anxiety Becomes Problematic

Although anxiety is a necessary emotion, anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health difficulties. Anxiety disorders involve us remaining in an anxious state for prolonged periods, even in the absence of a threat. Anxiety can become a problem if it starts to get in the way of your ability to live your day to day life the way you want. Therapy for anxiety can help you learn how to manage and overcome these difficulties. 

What Are The Signs of Anxiety?

There are a number of anxiety disorders, each with varied symptoms. These include health anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorder and phobias. However, many of the signs of anxiety are common across all of these disorders. These signs can include the following: 

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Difficulty switching off and falling asleep. This may include waking in the night and struggling to then get back to sleep.

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Avoiding things that we think may trigger or increase our anxiety. This may include certain people, places, activities or topics. 

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Worrying excessively. This can include overthinking, mentally replaying situations, mentally pre-empting things that may happen. 

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Feeling nervous, tense, on edge, and struggling to relax. This can include a sense of restlessness or 'nervous energy.' 

A Fact About Anxiety

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Our brain can't distinguish between real and imagined threats.

This can be problematic because anxiety is usually linked to things that haven't happened yet. Anxiety is also usually related to a discomfort with uncertainty and lack of control.

One way of managing this is to try and mentally prepare for things that could possibly happen. As the function of anxiety is to protect us from danger, we tend to imagine worst-case scenarios. When we do this, we are thinking through unwanted outcomes in an attempt to increase how prepared we would feel to manage them if they were to happen. 

Since our brain can't tell the difference between real and imagined threats, when we imagine a feared situation, it activates our stress response. This triggers physical changes that help us to take action to protect us from the threat.

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What Are The Symptoms of Anxiety?

Anxiety can come with a lot of physical symptoms. This is due to the stress response being activated to prepare our body to respond to a threat. Here are some of the physical changes you might notice when anxious:

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Headaches

Ringing in ears

Blurred vision

Dry mouth

Muscle Tension

Tight chest,

shortness of breath

Increased heart rate

Sweating

Urge to use toilet

Nausea, stomach pain

Shaking muscles 

Pins and needles

Other symptoms may include:

  • Light-headedness

  • Blushing

  • Change in appetite

  • Tiredness

  • Physical agitation or restlessness

  • Panic attacks

How CBT Can Help With Anxiety

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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) helps us identify and change unhelpful cycles of thought and behaviour that keep anxiety going. CBT for anxiety helps you challenge your current ways of thinking and learn more helpful strategies in order to both reduce anxiety and increase your ability to cope with it. 

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CBT is backed by clinical research and is recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for the treatment of anxiety.  

If this feels all too familiar to you and you'd like support managing your anxiety, we're here for you. Book an Initial Consultation now and we'll be happy to support you with your journey to recovery.

Interested in learning more? You might find the following helpful:

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Anxiety is a normal emotion that we all experience. Anxiety is our response to danger. It serves to keep us safe by triggering us to fight, freeze or flee from a threat. Without it, humans wouldn't have survived very long!