Anxiety can be a normal response to stress or danger and may be called the ‘flight or fight’ response. What happens is that adrenalin is quickly pumped through the body enabling it to cope with whatever catastrophe is perceived that is about to happen or is happening. If this response is out of proportion to the actual danger of the situation, or generated when there is no danger present then various problems can arise including:
- Racing heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Dry mouth
- Butterflies in stomach
- Urge to pass urine/empty bowels
- Pins and needles
The psychological symptoms of anxiety can include:
- Inner tension
- Fear of losing control
- Dread that something catastrophic is going to happen (when there is absolute no evidence)
- Feelings of detachment
Check out this link for more information This suggests that anxiety disorders are common. One survey (in Great Britain) it was suggested that 1 in 6 adults had experienced some form of mental health issue in the past week, with the most common disorders being anxiety and depressive disorders. Obviously this brings home the very real aspect of anxiety and how it can affect and the reasons why we need to be able to treat people with anxiety to help them understand and manage their symptoms.
Many people with anxious symptoms may realise that these are inside their head and recognise that, at times, they need to stop “overthinking” or “getting in their own way”.
Often they completely understand that these fears, anxieties or even fears of the anxieties are not based on reality nor a current situation. They may be based on something that has happened before, perhaps even unrelated, and yet for some reason the hardwiring defaults to that feeling of the time and they can feel paralysed with anxiety, stress, heart pounding and all sorts of horrible feelings that prevent them from doing what they enjoy, or prevent them from moving forwards into a place that might give more satisfaction, more joy etc.
Working with metaphors in therapy is not original. When I stumbled across the “Room of 1000 demons” story as a metaphor with facing and managing anxiety I thought I would share it here.
It is said that every five years, in Tibetan monasteries monks in training are referred to the ‘Room of 1000 Demons’. For enlightenment to occur they need to be able to walk into the room and come out the other side. Once in the room the entrance door locks behind them and they need to walk through and exit only by the exit door, and the room is full of 1000 demons – each and every one of them illustrating all of your worst fears.
So if you fear spiders, it will be a giant spider, heights, then a very tall building exemplifying your fear of heights etc. Apparently some monks, when hearing this, opt to not go into the room at all.
Those that do are told two things – that the demons are not real, and to keep moving.
To this end this illustrates the idea that your thoughts are simply your thoughts, they are not real and to progress through life you need to keep moving.
What are your thoughts?