Emotional Toolbox

Anxiety Issues

Emotional Toolbox
Anxiety Issues
Social Anxiety
Panic Attacks
Things to avoid
Plan your recovery
Suicidal Thoughts

“Are we becoming more depressed about our untreated anxiety. or are we becoming more anxious about our untreated depression"?


Untreated depression has long been identified as the primary cause of suicide. However, as depression itself can arise from something called a ‘pre-existing’ anxiety disorder, perhaps we ought to try to understand what is meant by the easy-to-use "anxiety disorders" label. So, let's start with a definition...

Anxiety Disorders: A group of conditions: generalised anxiety disorder, phobias, panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorders.


Commonly recognised  symptoms of


  • Heart palpitations
  • Sense of impending doom
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Muscle tension; muscle aches; trembling or twitching in the muscles
  • Diarrhea
  • Chest pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating or hot flashes
  • Excessive sweating
  • Under-eating or over-eating
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Sense of unreality, spaciness, or detachment from oneself.
  • Fatigue, headache
  • Breathlessness; hyperventilation
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Being easily startled

The all important bit...


It has been remarked upon, and it does seem to be one of life’s unwritten rules that all too often, worrying about something, which is a problem, becomes more worrying than the problem itself.

This is not to suggest for one moment that we should bury our heads in the sand, Even thought it is always a great temptation to do so. Pretending that there is no real problem when there is will not resolve the problem. Facing them can help us to confront our fears and decide if they are real or not, and what we are going to do to sort them out. 

One positive, but possibly disturbing, tried and tested method is to picture the worst-case scenario – the absolute worst possible consequences caused by the 'problem' - and then imagining just what we would do and how we would cope with it.

The likelihood is that whatever happens, it could never possibly be as bad as we imagine. This realisation can do much to increase our self-confidence in being able to cope, Which is itself important as it can serve to decrease our anxieties.

Sharing our thoughts and feelings with someone we trust (ideally close friends and family) is a good way of ‘venting’ which allows us the opportunity to ‘off-load’ a lot of worries, fears and negative feelings. This provides us with fresh perspectives and help those close to us to understand more clearly what we are going through which, in turn, should diminish our physical stress levels.


For many of us, writing can provide us with a means of great relief. The  simple act of carefully noting down any and all troubling or worrying situations, individually one-by-one. Then slowly taking each one of these problems and breaking them down into even smaller parts. Listing them in order of importance and then devising a realistic solution for each one, including a timetable for it to be completed. An excellent incentive is to reward ourself for each goal we achieve.


Expressive writing or other forms of creative expression are known to help to minimize intrusive thoughts about negative events. Starting a journal to record thoughts and feelings is a tried and tested method of tackling worries. Worrying can also have a lot to do with a lack of self-confidence. This being so, it could be a good idea to consider attending a self-assertiveness class to improve interpersonal skills. This would also provide us with the opportunity to meet new people who could soon become new friends.


As Human Beings we worry much more when we are stressed, and given the nature of the world in which we live, that stress is never likely to decrease. Accordingly, we do have need for a place of sanity   - a place of sanctuary, a place to unwind, relax and reflect


Because of the non-stop chaos of every stress filled day, many of us appear to have actually forgotten how to relax. Learning to relax is a good way to reduce worrying, improve sleep and relieve physical  stress-related symptoms. Regular exercise is also recommended as a  good way to reduce anxiety; and can be particularly useful if we are experiencing sleeping difficulties. But exercise doesn’t have to be tiring. Millions swear by the relaxing benefits of Yoga and Meditation.



Regular balanced meals and a high-fibre diet sustain levels of physical energy. Anyone experiencing feeling anxious and/or stressed really needs to avoid drinking too much caffeine and alcohol as it can make things much worse.


Many people are turning away from pharmaceutical treatments and are discovering that complementary therapies work for them. Which is not to say that they could work for everyone, but they certainly work for a growing number. The most popular of these therapies include acupuncture, reflexology and aromatherapy.


Excessive worrying has been linked to the development of high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as insomnia and depression. Some treatment may help.

Medical treatment
Tranquilisers are often used to 'treat' the symptoms of severe anxiety. These drugs are addictive and should only be used for a short period. Antidepressants are also used, they are not addictive and so can have long term use.

Non-medical treatment

      Talking therapies aim to tackle negative thoughts and behaviours, and deal with underlying causes of anxiety through a series of sessions with a trained therapist. The kind of talking therapy may depend on the severity of the anxiety. Examples include:


      Cognitive behaviour therapy – this treatment helps examine the ways people think about the world around them. It explores connections between their anxiety and how they think, feel and behave. The theory is that by learning new ways of thinking and behaving people are better able to face their fears.


      Psychodynamic psychotherapy – this treatment focuses on the underlying emotional causes of psychological problems such as childhood events, unresolved conflicts and family relations. Psychotherapy may take a long time to yield results and can be an expensive treatment.


      Counselling – this is similar to psychotherapy but more informal.  However. In a sense of fairness it must be stated that as good as it is, counselling will not suit everyone.

For details of how to locate local counsellors and psychotherapists please contact the appropriate professional bodies listed below.
Counselling in the UK  www.bacp.co.uk
Counselling in Ireland  www.irish-counselling.ie
Counseling in the USA www.counseling.org
Counselling in Australia www.theaca.net.au
Counselling in Canada www.ccacc.ca/ccacc.htm
Counselling in N.Z. www.nzap.org.nz/
Counselling in S Africa www.psychotherapy.co.za