All of us are familiar with the heart-quickening nervous feeling of anxiety. We feel afraid, we may find it harder to breathe, and are worried something bad is about to happen. Anxiety is meant to warn of us potential dangers both physically and emotionally. Its sole purpose is to keep us alive and out of danger. Sometimes our anxiety can become hijacked. Think of anxiety as a light switch on and off. When working correctly it turns itself on to warn of possible danger such as walking down a dark alley at night and then returns to the off position when the danger has passed. When your anxiety has been hijacked it's stuck in the on position. Which in turn keeps you feeling on edge and unable to relax. You are constantly ruminating about the past and worrying about the future and never really living in the present. This hijacking keeps you from living in the present, feeling at ease, trying new experiences, going out in public and maybe even talking in front of others.
Often, an individual with anxiety will have experienced unstable or frightening environments as a child. They are exposed to abuse and emotional neglect and feel it as a threat to their survival. This leads to their anxiety switching to the constant on mode.
Also, some of us experience anxiety as result of experiencing certain emotions that we never learned how to accept or process. If we are experiencing anger or sadness but have always been taught that they are unacceptable emotions to have then when we experience them, we begin to feel anxious because we don’t know how to handle them.
How Therapy Helps With Anxiety
Therapy helps anxiety in many ways. First, therapy provides you with a safe space to share your thoughts, feelings and experiences. Unlike your friends and family, your therapist understands how debilitating and overwhelming anxiety can be. Clients often experience a decrease in anxiety as they begin to feel more comfortable sharing parts of themselves. Second, in therapy, you will start to explore what triggers your anxiety and how to cope with it. Third, anxiety has a physical response in our bodies. Therapy helps you learn more about it, tolerate it and accept it. Working on the parts listed above decreases your anxiety and allows you to stop living in the past and future and start living in the present.
SYMPTOMS OF ADULT ANXIETY: