Stephen PattinsonCounselling & Psychotherapy for the North West
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How do I know if I am experiencing Anxiety? – Signs to look for

Life does throw up challenges that create anxiety, however for some they are able to continue with their daily lives without causing too much of a problem. For some it can severely impact on their quality of life. There are many variants of this condition, that include social anxiety, specific phobias, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) to post-traumatic stress disorder.
The two main forms of anxiety I am seeing time and time again is generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) which is when a person feels anxious on most days, and find themselves worrying about many different things that can severely effect many different aspects of their lives, including sleep. The second is health anxiety, which I am seeing more people with the fear around COVID-19 that has contributed to their anxiety.

Here are some of the most common signs of anxiety

Having a sense of impending danger, feeling panic or doom

Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)

Feeling nervous, restless or tense

Thinking people are looking at them and seeing them in a negative way.

Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry

Trouble getting off to sleep due to worry -Racing mind

Find yourself double or triple checking things, and still worrying it’s not done or something bad will happen.


Back in the therapy room

As a counsellor/psychotherapist it has had its challenges over the past six months having to adapt and change the way I work. Most of my work until March this year had been face to face, working within the NHS, dealing with depression, anxiety, phobias to name a few. Lockdown seemed to come fast left me with many clients who relied on their weekly therapy sessions, and my concern on the impact this could have on them. Thankfully, I was able to continue doing sessions over the phone and web cam with good outcomes. Now things are starting slowly to go back, but things are not the same as they were before March, social distancing, wearing face masks have had an impact.
The coronavirus virus pandemic has been stressful for many people. Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety.
The Institute for fiscal studies found that two -thirds of the UK (69%) report feeling somewhat or very worried about the effect COVID-19 is having on their life. The most common issues affecting wellbeing are worry about the future (63%) feelings stressed or anxious (56%) and feeling bored (49%).
They went onto identify that mental health has worsened substantially (by 8.1% on average) because of the pandemic. Groups have not been equally impacted; young adults and women – groups with worse mental health pre-pandemic – have been hit hardest.
The University college London Covid-19 social study found that of 90,000 UK adults has monitored mental health symptoms throughout lockdown, finding levels of anxiety and depression fell in early June as lockdown measures began to lift. But these remained highest among young people, those with lower household income, people with a diagnosed mental illness, people living with children, and people living in urban areas.

Over the past eight months since the pandemic struct in March I have become more aware of the impact of the lack of therapeutic help and the dire consequences on individuals and families which I have looked at ways to make therapy more accessible. Some may still feel anxiety around coming into therapy due to fears around Covid-19 which we have a confidential online counselling service.

It feels that we are all starting to get use to a new normal, which those who provide therapy are no different including myself which I have had many request for face to face counselling, and have started to get back into the therapy room, in line with government guidelines, that includes hand gel, social distancing and face coverings.

I will be honest I did have a few reservations on how this would impact on therapy, not being able to see one another’s face could feel impersonal and distant. Our faces are part of who we are, part of our humanity and to have them blocked off could shut down any connection with the person I want to help.

However, after my first session back in the therapy room, my concerns faded away. I think it was Shakespeare who said, “the eyes are the windows to the soul”, which in moments there was an instant connection between myself and the client, seeing emotion/feelings in a two-way connection. The external noise of the pandemic had gone within the room and the focus in helping was very much present. This has continued in my work in making a positive difference in people’s lives.

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