Does having anxiety make me crazy? This is a question that I would often be asked in the initial session. Unfortunately, the culture in Northern Ireland is extremely stigmatic towards mental health in general. More often than not, when we think of ‘mental health’, our mind drifts to extreme thoughts like asylum’s and that by having anxiety you’re going to be ‘locked up’, or worse, looked down upon.
The fact of the matter is we ALL have anxiety. Anxiety is placed into our DNA for a reason. Anxiety is what stops you walking out in front of a bus or putting your hand on a hot iron. When it comes to threat, it isn’t a conscious thought, it’s the feeling of threat that pulls you back. And that is what anxiety is for, to keep us safe.
The ‘problem’ arises, when this threat response is in overdrive. Basically like a smoke detector too close to a cooker, when the tiniest bit of smoke, sets it off. Showing that there wasn’t an actual threat, but a perceived threat, that made the alarm go off.
So what makes this metaphorical alarm more sensitive for some than others? Basically, we are an accumulation of our life experiences, resulting in beliefs about ourselves, others and the world. When we experience something that makes us anxious, our default setting is to avoid, not to address. The difficulty is, is when we avoid, we confirm to our minds that there is something to be fearful of, resulting in more entrenched anxiety the next time you experience it. This results in your world becoming smaller and smaller, isolating yourself, which often results in depression.
So how do we address it?
With CBT, we check, challenge, and change these negative thoughts, alongside re-scripting avoidant behaviour, and checking in with internal dialogue and coping mechanisms. Something that we at Jessica Leigh CBT like to encourage, is a better relationship with yourself. Something to perhaps ask yourself is, ‘if I treated a friend like I treated myself, would they stick around?’.
In summary, Anxiety is a part of day to day life, it is when it goes into overdrive, the problem arises. This can be effectively treated an increased awareness of thoughts and behavioural skills learnt in session.
For more information on how CBT can help you, please visit www.jessicaleighcbt.com and request a call back today.
Thank you for reading,