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How do you beat anxiety?

In our column and podcast series, Professor Sarah Niblock, CEO of UKCP, explores real-life challenges that affect all our lives and how therapy can help. This month, we look at dealing with anxiety

We all have the capacity to experience stress, but when it becomes too painful, unmanageable or unbearable, we refer to it as anxiety. Imagine a world that is grey, where you are always on your guard waiting for the worst to happen… Sadly, this is the reality for millions of people in the UK experiencing anxiety. GPs handle more than eight million cases per year, with women twice as likely to report anxiety as men. Psychotherapists believe those figures are only the tip of the iceberg, because so few people actually seek help. Sufferers commonly describe the sensation as being akin to a washing machine turning over and over in their stomachs or heads.

Lacklustre living

Anxiety is felt acutely in the body as tremendous restlessness, hypervigilance, irritability and difficulty concentrating. In high states of anxiety, we can feel dizzy, suffer cramps and even feel our heart rates quickening or pounding. Everyday stresses and strains become magnified, so that each moment of each day feels anxious, causing immense personal distress. ‘It makes life look ugly,’ according to UKCP psychotherapist Brett Kahr. He says: ‘It is like someone has turned the volume down, so you can’t hear the rest of the world. You are really starving, yet unable to sit down at the banquet of life.’

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