Anxiety can take many forms, from a low level ever-present generalised anxiety to the sudden and explosive blast of an anxiety attack/panic attack. Anxiety is usually about the future – something we have to do (e.g. visit the dentist, make a speech), something that might happen to us (being made redundant, losing someone close to us, missing the plane) or even fear of the anxiety sensations in our own body. This often involves an anticipated catastrophe – sometimes quite elaborate: ‘I’ll miss the plane, won’t get another, be stuck in a foreign country, no-one to help, can’t cope, no food, nowhere to go’ etc. The spirals can go down and down to the ultimate catastrophe.
Anxiety is treatable. Part of the secret is to carefully understand what the anxiety is about and how to approach it differently; Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is very helpful here. But in my therapy it’s not just how to cope with the here and now anxieties but also getting behind this to the emotional and developmental roots of the problem. If it wasn’t such a long name I would call my approach Cognitive Behavioural Emotional Psychotherapy because it covers the whole spectrum of different causes. There are many dimensions to anxiety disorder but like undoing a tangled ball of string it can be resolved.
I began researching the anxiety disorders in 1977, working in Clinical Psychology Departments in the NHS and at University. So I have been able to study anxiety from both a research angle and also whilst seeing patients for therapy. In my first book ‘Understanding Panic Attacks and Overcoming Fear’. I also explain how I personally overcame a distressing anxiety disorder. The 3 angles together, research, clinical and personal, make me, I think, well qualified to treat others with anxiety problems.