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Difference between Anxiety and Stress and what causes Anxiety?

Posted on 08 May 2015

Clients regularly tell me that it is useful to understand the difference between stress and anxiety. Stress is usually a specific response to a specific external circumstance. Common circumstances that trigger stress are issues with work or relationships or financial problems. Stress is something that can come and go in line with a specific trigger whereas anxiety can persist and the reason for the anxiety is not always obvious.

An individual's interpretation of what makes up a stressful situation is subjective and is an accumulation of their learnt beliefs and values both about themselves and their environment, based on their past experiences. No two people will perceive situations as anxious or stressful for the same reasons, as their set of experiences and factors will be unique, hence their interpretation will be unique.

For some people, anxiety is triggered by a recognisable cause such as a trauma, serious illness or a high number of stressful factors occurring either at once or in quick succession. But for many sufferers of anxiety, they are unable to pinpoint the specific and identifiable reason for the anxiety and this can further contribute to their distress.  Clients who are experiencing anxiety can often think that on some level they are going mad and it can help them to understand that anxiety is a normal response to a wide range of triggers and stimuli and has been a part of our physiological make up since the Stone Age.

I am an anxiety hypnotherapist in central London and work extensively with clients at my clinics in Harley Street, London and Henley on Thames.  The main causes of anxiety can be the inability to cope with a series of stressful events or the impact of a specific and traumatic event or events.  Anxiety can also be a learnt behaviour, clients will often talk about how they remember a parent or sibling being anxious whilst they were growing up. 

The likelihood is that these are not mutually exclusive causes but may all contribute and accumulate, leading to anxiety.  I often find that they are not separate scenarios but overlapping factors leading to anxiety.

I use specialist techniques such as EMI (Eye Movement Integration) as well as Cognitive Hypnotherapy to gently but clearly identify and respond to the actual root causes of anxiety.  I work with clients to interrupt the unconscious problem patterns that are maintaining their anxiety in order to free them from the feelings and thoughts that are impacting on their lives.

For further information on anxiety and treatment please contact me.

Author: Fiona Nicolson is a practising and professionally qualified Cognitive Hypnotherapist and a member of the CNHC. She is co-publisher and author of The Hypnotherapy Handbook, a handbook for new practitioners and students of hypnotherapy and a published author on the topics of anxiety and trauma. Fiona is an Anxiety UK recognised therapist and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the National Council for Hypnotherapy. Fiona runs clinics in Henley on Thames and Harley Street, London.

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