Self Help for Anxiety and Depression
If we were still living in the jungle, anxiety would probably be a life-saver. It’s a natural response to
danger but in our contained modern world, we can’t respond appropriately to anxiety. We can’t normally run
So, what is anxiety exactly? Most of us have a really sophisticated early warning system that protects us
from distant danger. It tells us to be ready, just in case. It works a bit like the smoke alarm in your house.
The smoke alarm is meant to protect the house against fire but it doesn’t wait until the fire is burning.
Just a little smoke from burnt toast is enough to trigger it.
And just like the smoke alarm, our inbuilt early warning system, anxiety, is meant to force us to check our
immediate environment to make sure that a hidden danger is not too close.
The physical symptoms of anxiety and stress are best seen in the animal kingdom. A rabbit, hearing a distant
noise, will stop eating and become tense. All of its resources are directed to its muscles, preparing for
fight or flight. The brain is effectively starved of blood and so any other activity such as socializing
or grooming are completely lost until the anxiety attack is over.
Anxiety in humans has virtually the same effect. It is such a basic survival tool for the body that it over-rides
all other functions. Our sophisticated thought processes are shut down and we may react in what, to others,
seems an irrational way.
When Anxiety is a False Alarm
In the same way that burnt toast triggers the smoke alarm, your anxiety attack symptoms can be set off by
crossed wires. Your mind thinks you are under distant attack but there is no clear evidence to confirm this.
You can’t discriminate between actual danger and perceived danger.
The problem we have with anxiety attack symptoms is that they are uncontrollable. The unconscious mind triggers
the alarm and sends adrenalin surging through our bodies. Cleansing our bodies of these chemicals is not
as easy as telling ourselves to calm down. Without actually running or fighting, the adrenalin can stay in
our bloodstream for many hours. Worse still in some people, the presence of adrenalin and the other chemicals
can keep triggering anxiety, making it a very long, drawn out condition.
How to Reduce Anxiety
Although there are medications that your doctor can prescribe to alleviate your anxiety attack symptoms, many
of the drugs have unpleasant side-effects including addiction. Medications like these tend to be more like
sticking plasters. They cover up the symptoms but don’t address the cause.
It is best to take a progressive course of action. First make sure that the reason for any anxiety has been
eliminated. There may be a real reason for your anxiety. Unless you deal with it, the anxiety will only come
If the anxiety is a false alarm, make sure that your lifestyle is not driving you towards the edge of anxiety.
Cut down on sources of caffeine such as coffee, chocolate, soda and black tea. Make sure you get regular
exercise and avoid coping strategies like alcohol, out-of-control shopping, gambling, over-working and immersing
yourself “good deeds”.
Psychological interventions can help you to raise the threshold of your anxiety. There’s a lot to choose from;
talking treatments, behavior modification, relaxation techniques, guided imagery and hypnosis are only a
few. Meditation also helps by slowing down your thought processes and the gentle exercise will help to cleanse
your body of adrenalin.
The important thing to remember about anxiety is that it can be very difficult to self treat as this can lead
to the anxiety about anxiety spiral. It may be difficult but if you can find someone to have patience with
you and to guide you in an understanding and clear-headed way, your chances of beating anxiety will be vastly
By Mike Kay
Programs Offering Self Help for Anxiety and Depression
The Phobia Clinic offers a 24-Hour
Public Speaking Fear Program which guarantees results to clients who complete their stage fright program. Rapid help
for other fears and phobias sucy as:
- Fear about Flying
- and many more!
Anxiety and Fear Relief – The Sedona Method
offers a free introductory tape. They share a method that teaches you how to instantly release
the feelings and negative thoughts that lead to overwhelming responses to life experiences that create fear
and depression. The program is endorsed
by psychologists. It has also benn proven effective through a Harvard Medical study.
- Are You Living With Phobias and Fears? Get the Phobia Self-Help Book
- Depression – What It is and What We can Do