I only came to see you once. The first thing you said was that you noticed I could not take a breath. I had not realized that I had been struggling to breathe for many years. We worked on that, and I have been conscious of it ever since. You understood the reality of my anxieties. They were real to me, and you honored that as a part of my makeup, instead of just telling me how to be different. I never knew the ways my body processed stress. You made me aware of my physical experience and reaction to emotional pain in a way no one else had. I had been working with therapists, but no one addressed this physical element of what I was going through. Because of that hour I spent with you, I made several life changes, and for your support, I will be forever grateful.
Anxiety is a normal reaction to threatening situations – part of the ‘fight fo flight’ response to stress, when the mind and body go on alert. Prolonged stress can lead to a variety of physical ailments, including headaches, raised blood pressure, and palpitations.
Panic attacks – sudden surges of intense anxiety – may occur at random. They are usually accompanied by disturbing bodily sensations and are often so intense that they interfere with daily activities. About one in ten people suffers from intense anxiety, irrational fears, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive behaviour at some point in life.