What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal emotion that anyone can experience, just like happiness, sadness, and anger. Many refer to anxiety as a bad or negative feeling, this is because learning to live and cope with anxiety can be challenging. Anxiety is often related to fear, this is because when faced with a difficult or uncomfortble situation, our bodies experience a surge of adrenaline to prepare us to either engage or seek safety known as the fight, flight or freeze response.
Why do we have the Fight, flight and freeze response?
We developed the fight or flight response as cavemen in order to keep ourselves alive
(Think hunting for food and fighting wild animals to stay alive).
The Fight or Flight response meant that cave people's bodies went into survival mode whenever their brains sensed danger, their muscles would tense, heart rate and blood pressure increase to provide them with a better chance of running away (flight) or fighting the danger (fight). Anxiety becomes a problem when there isn't anything to worry about or when our fear outweighs the risk of being harmed. Imagine you have a smoke alarm that is overly sensitive and goes off all of the time, even when there isn't a real fire.
Is it all bad?
Anxiety like other emotions has a purpose which is not just to instil fear. As mentioned, anxiety can warn us that something is wrong and protects us from danger. Imagine never feeling anxious, how would you know when to cross the road, to mind your footing near a cliff edge, to avoid petting a hissing cat or when to leave a situation if something doesn't feel right. Anxiety can be helpful in less obvious ways too, guiding us to take care of ourselves, motivating us towards reaching our goals and helping us to solve a problem.
When should I seek help?
It is important to seek support when anxiety is getting in the way of everyday life, affecting the way you think and behave. For example, when feeling anxious we may experience negative thoughts about ourselves, the world or the future. We may also develop behaviours to prevent us from feeling anxious such as avoidance. These unhelpful thoughts and behaviours are not a problem short term but if continued can stop us from interacting with others, completing daily activities and generally doing things that make us feel good.
What is Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is an evidence based therapy designed to support Children and Young people overcome low to moderate mental health difficulties such as anxiety and low mood. The therapist aims to develop awareness of how our thoughts, feelings and behaviours are linked and how negative thought patterns and safety behaviours contribute towards and maintain unhelpful anxiety.
What can I expect from CBT?
- CBT sessions usually occur once a week.
- You will work together with your therapist to understand the problem you're struggling with and to set a goal to work towards.
- You will learn new skills to help you feel better.
- You will be asked to practice these skills at home (your therapist will help you set tasks in order to do this in between your sessions).
- Your therapist will help you to challenge and change your negative thoughts as well as unhelpful behaviours.
Need any more advice?
If you know a young person who may benefit from support with Anxiety, please feel free to call us on our duty line (Wednesdays between 2-4pm) on 01642 505580 to discuss further.
We are able to offer helpful tips or advice or signpost you to an appropriate service or referral.