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  • Writer's pictureCharity Lane

Psychological treatment for Anxiety

Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is a very common term these days. It is used frequently in many different scenarios. But what exactly is anxiety and when is it a natural response to a situation compared to a mental health disorder? 

Anxiety, commonly conflated with fear, is the anticipation of a future threat. Fear, on the other hand, is a response to a perceived threat that is currently present.  Anxiety is a natural and healthy emotion which we have evolved to experience and be responsive to, as it helps to keep us safe by warning us about future threats and helping us plan accordingly. However, excessive anxiety can become a painful hindrance to everyday life. 

Anxiety disorder are categorised based on the types of objects and situations of fear.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). 

The most common of the anxiety disorders, GAD is characterised by excessive and persistent worry, fear, anxiety, stress, and overwhelm across multiple domains of life. GAD can be a very exhausting and inhibiting mental health condition to experience. Like all anxiety disorders, the fear and worry lead to behavioural disturbances, such as avoidance, which not only leads to an increase in anxiety in the long term, but also further isolates and limits the individual. Whilst GAD is experienced differently across individuals, some common manifestations are social anxiety, health anxiety, and existential anxiety. This may lead to individuals avoiding socialising, spending a lot of time and energy worrying about perceived imminent ill-health, and feeling as though life is too overwhelming or lacks meaning. These are just some examples of how one may experience GAD, but the list is as varied as the individuals who are struggling with this mental health condition.

There are many theories as to why individuals develop anxiety disorders, such as GAD, and like most mental health conditions there appears to be a complex interplay between nature and nurture underlying the development of GAD. Whilst there appears to be genetic factors at play in the development of anxiety disorders, there is no shortage of anecdotal and empirical evidence for the role of the environment, early childhood experiences, attachment styles in the advent, progression, and perpetuation of these mental health conditions.

A critical reflection on the diagnosis of anxiety disorders

An important note to make is that anxiety disorders are characterised by ‘excessive’ and ‘inappropriate’ levels of anxiety about a perceived threat. Unfortunately, this type of language and conceptualisation of anxiety disorders can come across as dismissive and patronising. Furthermore, it puts the onus of the suffering on the individual. In a world where there are many legitimate threats to our survival and wellbeing, such as climate change, racial and gendered discrimination and violence, and the pressures of late stage Capitalism to name a view, high levels of anxiety are to be expected. This is a likely cause behind the increasing prevalence of these mental health conditions across many different countries and cultures. Whilst a somewhat sobering fact, this also provides fertile ground for developing new ways of supporting individuals struggling with anxiety disorders, whilst also bringing to light the much-needed healing humanity needs to engage in as a whole.

Treatment for Anxiety

Whilst anxiety disorders can be exhausting, debilitating, and limiting, they can also provide the individual with many clues into how their mind works. Confronting and working through mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders, can provide a rich and bountiful path back home to ourselves, gifting us with lessons, insights, and a deep sense of empathy we may not have come to otherwise. Psychotherapy can provide a supportive, nurturing space for an individual to embark on this journey of self-exploration and healing. The Spring Clinic is home to some wonderful integrative psychotherapists and counsellors who meet their clients wherever they are on their journey. Together with clients, they can help clients work through their anxiety and reach their goals.

You can learn more about The Spring Clinic's treatment approaches to anxiety on our website or if you would like to be matched with a practitioner for anxiety treatment, then please feel free to give us a call on 03 7035 9031,  book a free consult call or an initial session, or send us through an enquiry.

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