Sometimes it’s NOT Anxiety!

Anxiety comes in many forms.

If I said to you: “in your own words – what is anxiety?” would you be able to give me an answer?

And would it be similar to what others have described it as?

The answer is NO!

The reason for this is because anxiety is a FEELING. We all feel anxious over something, at some time, during our live’s don’t we? The school play?  Getting up on stage and giving a talk? Meeting new people? Going for interviews? I could name 100 things very easily and yet the word anxiety and the phrase “I have an anxiety disorder” is banded around quite freely.

As a clinical hypnotherapist, I see clients every day in my clinics, both children and adults and to be honest – it’s rarely simply anxiety that I treat them for. With children it’s usually a problem like bedwetting, stool holding or sleep issues that presents as an “anxiety”.

Social Anxiety

This is one of the commonest forms of anxiety that I treat both in children (teens mostly) and adults. The youngster or adult hates being in social situations, feels overwhelmed and cannot make conversation, sometimes stammers and stutters their way through the occasion but never really enjoying it and is usually pleased when its time to go home!

So, the first port of call for someone suffering with anxiety is usually the GP. He may give some form of medication for it but he is more likely to refer you to a therapist for either some CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) or some “talk” therapy.

However, when the symptoms don’t get better from the medication or the skills given to control the anxious feelings, then it’s really obvious that it is not anxiety that is causing the suffering.

These are some of the other conditions or problems that I often treat because someone has come to me with “anxiety”:

  • ADHD – Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.
    Many children that I treat for anxiety quite often are struggling with ADHD and have not yet been diagnosed. Normally when a child starts school, the teacher would notice if he is a fidgeting in excess (all children fidget to a certain extent) or if he is not paying attention and easily distracted but sometimes its hard for the parent to notice this until it becomes a real problem. If you are concerned about your child’s attention span just ask his teacher! Adults struggle with ADHD too, and this can come across very similar to anxiety so do be aware of how long your attention span is and if you are always flitting from one idea or activity to the next.
  • Bi – Polar Disorder.
    Can be very worrying for the person who is struggling, it can appear like severe anxiety /depression/stress etc and can easily be misdiagnosed. Patients with BPD will have a rapid heart rate which will obviously make them FEEL anxiety but they font have an “anxiety disorder” as such.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
    This can very easily be misdiagnosed as anxiety. Many patients that come to me initially with “anxiety” soon tell me of a time when the anxiety started perhaps when they were thinking of a situation that they had been through such as divorce, a mugging, or perhaps they had lost a loved one. They may have been in post – traumatic shock, but hadn’t realised it.
  • Addictive behaviours like recreational drugs.
    Alcohol consumption and smoking can all have an effect on our emotions and that feeling of “anxiety” can rear it’s ugly head. Even medications for ADHD like amphetamines can cause shakiness, and rapid pulse rate which will all cause an anxious feeling but it is not “ anxiety” it’s the result of the drugs ( prescriptive or illegal).
  • Depressions and stress.
    When we become stressed and depressed, we have obsessive thoughts, and these can naturally make us feel like we are having a panic attack. This is why the GP will go into great detail about your depression and how it makes you feel – so he can make a correct diagnosis.
  • OCD.
    When someone struggles with OCD ( obsessive Compulsive Disorder) they become compelled to do certain rituals which can make them anxious and they also have obsessions, which again will lead to panic attacks and a lot of “ anxiety”.

These are just a few of the conditions that I treat very often in my clinics with both children and adults and there are many more. There are also quite a few medical conditions that will cause anxiety such as diabetes, thyroid problems and heart conditions.

Women who are menopausal will also complain of feeling anxious as their pulse races when they have a hot flush.  So, you see anxiety is very much used as an “ umbrella term” for various other conditions so it is always best to see a therapist who is specialised in dealing with these problems and also experienced enough to dig deep enough to find the correct problem!

One of my clients, Jenny says:

“I went to see Elaine as I knew she specialised in anxiety. However, after the second session when I had told her all about my ex’s abusive and violent behaviour towards me, and the fact that I had ended up in hospital twice because of it, she said I was possibly suffering with PTSD. I hadn’t even thought of that! She treated me accordingly and after the therapy programme I felt so much better – all the anxious feelings had gone!”

Another client, James (15) said:

“Elaine helped me with my anxiety. She explained that all the rituals I was doing and washing my hands constantly was actually OCD, and it was causing me to FEEL anxious. If I hadn’t gone to see her, we would never have known it was OCD because the GP just said I had anxiety!”

“But what about younger children?”  I hear you ask!

These are just TWO out of hundreds of my patients who have presented with “anxiety” so if you are struggling… remember, there is usually something underlying that is actually CAUSING the anxious feelings.

With younger children there are many reasons that mums may think that the child is anxious – the main one is not sleeping.

Every day throughout the year I get a call from a mum saying “I think my child may be suffering with anxiety, she won’t go to sleep!”

However, there are so many reasons why a child won’t go to sleep, but it is usually very simple – they don’t WANT to!

Another problem is stool holding – the child is actually anxious about something else when they are stool holding, it could be that they are scared of the toilet flushing (I can understand that!) or that it’s going to hurt when they do a poo!

When a child wets the bed, they become very anxious.

When a child doesn’t want to eat certain foods, they become anxious.

New school – anxious.

I could go on…

So, again we can see that there is nearly always a reason for the anxious feelings, it may or may not be obvious to mums and dads as they are so close to the child but if you step back and think to yourself “My child is saying she is anxious, and she is wetting the bed every now and then – now what’s going on in her little sub-concious  mind?” you may then get the answer.

However if you are at all concerned please do contact me at:

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