Posted on 07 February 2017
You are not alone, every day in my clinics in Henley on Thames and Harley Street, London I hear stories of how much people are missing out on life because of their anxiety.
I am delighted every time someone decides to take that big step of seeking help. The reasons for deciding to finally take action are varied, everyone has their unique tipping point. And not surprisingly, most of my clients are very focused on the problems their anxiety is causing rather than considering what is actually driving their anxiety. So, people will talk about their issues, or their fears, or how their anxiety is limiting what they can do. There are as many different ways of expressing anxiety as there are clients, everyone has their own unique experience and behaviours. But one thing which nearly every client I see has in common is the belief that their anxiety is the problem.
I take a different view, anxiety is just a symptom. A symptom of how you feel about yourself. It is a reflection of your belief system, of how you filter the information about the world which is around you constantly. And perhaps at the centre of your belief system is a conviction that somehow you are not good enough for example or fear of failure etc.
Usually when a client sits down in my therapy chair a torrent of sadness, problems and lost opportunities come out, I often call this the ‘emotional spaghetti’, by which I mean there are different strands of problems, all jumbled up. I see my job as helping my clients untangle these strands and then it is easier to sort out what the root cause of the problems are.
By the time most people reach this stage, they have suffered for too many years. Many people just struggle on and then something happens which spurs them into seeking help. This could be a realisation that they are failing in their career, a noticing that their anxiety-behaviour is being copied by their children or worries about how the anxiety is affecting their health.
I am finding health worries are motivating more and more people to deal with their anxiety, possibly because there is an increasing amount of excellent research being done into the impact of mental health on our physical health and the fact that articles reporting this appear regularly in the press. My clients often seek help because they have realised that unless they take action then they are putting themselves at increased risk of some cancers, heart disease and other life limiting and life-threatening conditions.
For example, a recent study published in the British Medical Journal brought several clients to my clinic.
The study followed more the 160,000 people for nine years and found that those with psychologically distressing conditions such as anxiety or depression were a third more likely to die of cancers such as bowel, prostate or pancreatic cancer.
The lead author of the study Dr David Batty from University College, London said: “Our findings contribute to the evidence that poor mental health might have some predictive capacity for certain physical diseases.”
Dr Batty, as a responsible researcher is wary of drawing conclusions which go beyond the current evidence and says more research into this area is needed, and I would agree with him there. I am, however pleased that the reporting of what we know already is spurring people to seek help and put themselves on a path to a happier, healthier life.
I would say that a contented happy life is a goal worth seeking for itself. If there are health benefits down the line then even better.
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