Anxiety, Depression, Panic Attacks and Phobias.
Anxiety and depression are often experienced as two opposite extremes of overthinking and nervous system dysregulation. They often exist hand in hand as the nervous system seeks balance by swinging from one to the other. Or they can also be experienced as a general emotional state that overshadows daily life, and can feel hard to shift.
Anxiety is a normal and natural emotional response to stress or perceived threats. It’s often characterized by feelings of apprehension, uneasiness, worry, or fear. Anxiety can manifest on a continuum, ranging from mild and manageable to severe and debilitating. It serves as a mechanism that prepares the body to respond to potential danger or challenges by triggering the “fight-or-flight” response, which involves a surge in adrenaline and physiological changes to enhance alertness and readiness.
- Emotional Symptoms: Anxiety can lead to a range of emotional symptoms, including excessive worry, irritability, restlessness, and a pervasive sense of dread or apprehension. People with anxiety often anticipate negative outcomes or catastrophic events.
- Physical Symptoms: Anxiety can also have physical manifestations, such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, sweating, trembling, muscle tension, headaches, stomachaches, and dizziness. These symptoms are part of the body’s response to stress.
- Cognitive Symptoms: Anxious thoughts can be intrusive and obsessive, making it difficult to concentrate or make decisions. People with anxiety may have trouble focusing on tasks or may experience “mind racing” with thoughts jumping from one worry to another.
- Behavioral Symptoms: Anxiety can lead to avoidance behaviors, where individuals actively avoid situations or activities they fear might trigger anxiety. This can interfere with daily functioning and social relationships.
- Chronic vs. Acute Anxiety: Anxiety can be acute, meaning it arises in response to a specific situation or stressor and tends to resolve once the stressor is removed. It can also be chronic, where anxiety persists over an extended period, often seemingly unrelated to a specific trigger.
- Anxiety Disorders: When anxiety becomes severe, persistent, and interferes significantly with a person’s life, it may be diagnosed as an anxiety disorder. Common anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias.
A panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by recurring and unexpected panic attacks. These panic attacks are intense, sudden episodes of overwhelming fear and anxiety that can last for several minutes or, in some cases, longer. Panic attacks can be very distressing and can significantly interfere with a person’s daily life and well-being. Here are some key features and characteristics of panic disorder:
- Panic Attacks: The hallmark of panic disorder is the occurrence of recurrent panic attacks. These attacks typically come on suddenly, reaching their peak within minutes. During a panic attack, individuals often experience a combination of intense physical and psychological symptoms, such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, sweating, trembling, chest pain or discomfort, feelings of impending doom, and a strong urge to flee or escape.
- Unpredictability: Panic attacks in panic disorder often occur unexpectedly and can happen in various situations, not just in response to specific triggers or stressors. This unpredictability can lead to increased anxiety and fear of when the next attack might happen.
- Worry About Future Attacks: People with panic disorder often live in fear of experiencing future panic attacks, which can lead to anticipatory anxiety. They may avoid certain places or situations where they have previously had panic attacks or where they fear an attack might occur.
- Physical Health Concerns: Some individuals with panic disorder may become overly concerned about the physical sensations experienced during panic attacks. This can lead to frequent visits to healthcare providers or emergency rooms, as they may mistake panic attack symptoms for serious medical conditions.
- Duration and Diagnosis: Panic disorder is diagnosed when a person experiences recurrent panic attacks and has ongoing worry or behavioral changes related to these attacks for at least one month. It is typically diagnosed by a mental health professional based on a clinical assessment.
- Lifestyle Modifications: Lifestyle changes, such as stress management techniques, regular exercise, and avoiding stimulants like caffeine or nicotine, can also be beneficial in managing panic disorder.
Depression, isolation and withdrawal from social situations or work is often a result of untreated anxiety. Individuals may experience their world getting smaller and smaller as their anxiety increases resulting in a spiral of anxiety and depression that feels like being imprisoned on an endless rollercoaster.
How Inner Alchemy can help you manage symptoms, build self confidence and coping skills to overcome these issues.
- Relaxation: One of the primary goals of hypnotherapy is to induce a state of deep relaxation. During a hypnotherapy session, Mel guides you into a relaxed state of mind and body. This deep relaxation can help reduce overall stress levels and promote a sense of calm, which can be particularly beneficial for those experiencing anxiety.
- Cognitive restructuring: Hypnotherapy can be used to challenge and reframe negative thought patterns and beliefs that contribute to anxiety. In a hypnotic state, you may be more receptive to suggestions for changing these thought patterns and adopting more positive and constructive ways of thinking.
- Stress reduction: Chronic stress is a common factor in anxiety disorders. Hypnotherapy can help reduce stress by teaching relaxation techniques and coping strategies that can be used in everyday life to manage stress more effectively.
- Identifying Triggers: In a hypnotic state, individuals may be more open to exploring the underlying causes or triggers of their panic attacks. Mel guides clients to uncover repressed emotions, past traumatic experiences, or specific fears that contribute to their panic disorder. Identifying these triggers can be the first step toward addressing and resolving them.
- Visualisation and desensitisation: Hypnotherapy can incorporate techniques like guided imagery and desensitisation to help individuals confront and overcome specific anxieties or phobias. By visualising themselves successfully managing anxiety-inducing situations, patients can build confidence and resilience. During clinical hypnotherapy we can incorporate techniques like systematic desensitisation or exposure therapy in a controlled and relaxed environment. This helps individuals confront and gradually overcome their specific fears or phobias, reducing the likelihood of panic attacks in triggering situations.
- Self-esteem and confidence building: Low self-esteem and lack of confidence often go hand-in-hand with anxiety. Hypnotherapy can be used to boost self-esteem and confidence, helping individuals feel more capable of managing anxiety-inducing situations.
- Coping mechanisms and stress reduction techniques: Mel teaches individuals coping strategies and relaxation techniques that they can use in their daily lives to manage anxiety symptoms as they arise. Learning to manage stress effectively can be crucial in preventing panic attacks.
- Self-Control: Hypnotherapy can teach individuals self-regulation techniques to manage anxiety symptoms as they arise. This may include using self-hypnosis to calm the mind and body during times of heightened anxiety, which in turns builds confidence and capacity.
- Long-Term Management: Hypnotherapy can provide individuals with tools and skills for long-term management of panic disorder. Regular sessions may help reinforce these strategies and maintain progress.