S a r a h R o l f e
Anxiety & Depression
I am a counsellor who is trained in dealing with many areas of emotional distress including:-
Anxiety and Depression. Often people with high levels of anxiety will experience depression also. Everyone is different but the feelings associated with both conditions are often frightening, confusing and isolating.
Let's start by understanding anxiety and its' purpose. Anxiety does have a purpose and it is a normal part of the human condition to help keep us safe. Imagine you are so relaxed when you cross a road, you might not be aware of the car driving at speed towards you? Imagine a flashing amber traffic light which is warning us, trying to send a message that we need to be aware of a potential danger. When we experience high levels of anxiety, it can seem like that flashing amber traffic light is now stuck on red and there seems no way of switching it off. The effects can be overwhelming and persistent. The warning light is no longer a keeping us safe and instead is pushing us in the red zone which serves no purpose. Understandably, you may want you distance yourself from it and keep those feelings far away.
Here's some information bout the purpose of anxiety:-
It is evolutionary and it has always been part of the human condition. When we were hunters and gatherers, we had to assess dangers and challenges. Physiologically, what was happening to our brains was cortisol was flooding it, to prepare our body for fight or flight. The human brain works far more rapidly than your decision making and reasoning process and your brain calculates very quickly what is best for you to do in that split second. At this point, anxiety shifts gear to make us more aware of dangers. This leads to a number of physical responses, such as:- Increased heart rate, rapid breathing, dilated pupils, trembling or shaking, even an intense need to go to the toilet.
Humans have not changed much and we still have these physiological responses about perceived danger. Our response might be absolutely valid and keep us safe. On the other hand, we might be holding on to a preconception that we are in danger when we might not be. We might stay on 'high alert' believing that we are keeping ourselves safe. If we try to maintain this level, we risk holding onto anxiety which serves no real purpose and it can have a detrimental impact and lead to depression. It is exhausting when you are operating on 'red alert', the anxiety can feel overwhelming and too much to cope with. People feel depression feel it in different ways but it can feel like something is pressing down on you, pushing you down. Literally 'depressing' you.
It is important to be aware of when anxiety can build up from normal levels which naturally come and go to a level where you do not know how to manage it. This is when it can start to have a negative impact on you. This is when 'just pull yourself together' simply doesn't work. Understandably, it seems easier to ignore the warning signs and it could make you feel like you have 'lost control'. In reality, you have started to 'gain control'. At this point, your self awareness is informing you that your anxiety is too much to ignore. In fact trying to ignore depression and anxiety has a long term detrimental effect.
There are several interventions you can do to manage your anxiety:-
Breathe in slowly for a few seconds. Now breathe out slowly and try to breathe out for longer than when you breathed in. Try putting your hand in front of your mouth so that you can feel your breath. Imagine the last breath out is through a straw and you are trying to pushing something out of that straw.
Stay 'present'. Concentrate on what you can feel, see, smell, touch, hear.
Move your body, walk, run.
Notice your surroundings. Look up at the sky, notice the stars or clouds.
Speak to a friend, connect with someone you trust and tell them how you are feeling.
Play some music that you enjoy listening to.
Try it! You have nothing to lose! Notice how you feel afterwards compared to how you felt before you started.
If you would like to of gain more understanding about why you experience overwhelming emotions and to start working on a therapeutic level carefully and safely, please contact me so I can help you through that process.
I offer a free non obligation 30 minute consultation to enable you to make an informed decision about what you are hoping to gain from counselling with me.