Anxiety About Being Anxious | Anxiety and Panic Attacks & Effective Treatment
Contrary to popular belief, anxiety isn’t all bad. We tend to forget that anxiety is our body’s natural response to danger or threat. As human beings, we have always needed anxiety to survive. Anxiety prepares our body to respond when we are facing danger and from an evolutionary perspective, it helped us to survive when we humans encountered dangerous predators and treacherous situations. Anxiety, although often uncomfortable, is an adaptive and important response and part of being human.
However, when we experience the fight-or-flight response before a job interview or an important test in school, our anxiety may not feel very adaptive and there is no denying that anxiety can feel unpleasant. For individuals with anxiety disorders, anxiety can feel unbearable and completely overwhelming and it is understandable that they would like to get rid of these uncomfortable feelings completely. Yet oftentimes, trying to get rid of anxiety actually results in being even more bothered and anxious by the symptoms.
The anxious individual thinks, “I must not have any feelings of anxiety or I won’t be able to stand it! It would be horrible if I were anxious! If I’m anxious, then I’m a real looser.”
Irrational beliefs and musts come into play, typically in the form of:
- demands – “I must not be anxious!”
- negative self-ratings – “If I’m anxious, then I’m a real looser”
- low frustration tolerance – “I won’t be able to stand it if I’m anxious”
- awfulizing the situation – “It would be horrible if I were anxious”
Thinking in this way actually leads to anxiety. You notice that you are anxious and think “Oh God, I’m getting anxious”. This leads to an increase in anxiety, which triggers another thought “Oh Go, what if I have a panic attack or faint or act like I’m crazy. That would be horrible!” Anxiety increases again, which leads to more automatic anxious thinking and overbreathing which leads to physical sensations of heart palpitations, tingling, feeling faint and chest pains. Now these physical sensations become evidence to you that there really is something wrong with you and “that would be horrible”. This leads to yet more anxiety and the viscous cycle continues.
In order to not feel anxiety, it is likely that you begin to avoid situations where you fear you may become anxious. If you are unable to avoid the situation, you make use common techniques in an attempt to distract yourself from your anxiety. You may try deep breathing exercises, counting to ten, telling yourself in a firm voice “stop”, drinking a cup of tea, having a cocktail or popping a Xanax. While these methods can be helpful in the short-term, they typically do not solve the problem.
So what can be done? Over a series of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) sessions, you will learn to develop more rational beliefs surrounding your anxiety, and learn ways to face it, instead of avoiding it.
Remember the famous adage, pain is inevitable; suffering is optional. At GroundWork Counseling in Orlando we can help you to lean that it is better to learn to tolerate anxiety than to demand that it go away completely. We can help you to learn that you are more resilient than you know and that you have the ability to cope and ride wave of anxiety so you no longer suffer with your uncomfortable anxious feelings.
Speak With An Orlando Anxiety Therapist