What is anxiety and how do we experience it?

Anxiety is our natural, biological reaction to perceived danger or threat, which produces a ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response.  This response has been considered a vital survival mechanism throughout history, dating back to ‘hunter-gatherer’ culture, when humans relied upon primitive instincts to stay safe. 

Evolutionary theory suggests that humans have maintained fear responses from our prehistoric ancestors.  However, the modern world has reduced our survival needs because there are no longer acute threats, such as predators.  Therefore, we have adapted to experience anxiety in response to stressful or fearful situations in our current environment, for example, sitting an exam or attending a job interview.  When feeling anxious, your body releases higher levels of adrenaline and cortisol and you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Racing thoughts
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Palpitations
  • Tingling sensations
  • Irritable bowel
  • Weak bladder, or need to urinate more frequently
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain and/or weakness

These symptoms are experienced by everyone at some point and often pass during or after a triggering situation, which is a sign of a healthy ‘threat system’.  However, some people feel anxious frequently and in response to situations that are not typically threatening, such as, going shopping. If this is the case, you may be benefit from medical or psychological assessment, as Anxiety disorders are increasingly prevalent and manageable with appropriate intervention.  

What is an anxiety disorder? 

When you experience anxiety for prolonged periods, in the form of panic attacks, or in response to situations which did not phase you in the past, it is useful to visit a GP or Psychologist to explore your experiences further.  

Most anxiety disorders are triggered by an aversive experience or trauma and can develop at any point in your life, even if the triggering experience happened very early on.   In some cases, there are no direct causes or triggers, but symptoms can still be improved with therapeutic intervention.  Common Anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalised Anxiety disorder 
  • Panic disorder
  • Health anxiety 
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD
  • Agoraphobia 
  • Specific phobias

Online therapy for anxiety  

Anxiety underlies all the above, yet each disorder manifests differently and can strongly impact upon a person’s ability to function.  Furthermore, people often report difficulty enjoying the ‘here and now’, relaxing, maintaining relationships, feeling healthy and working.  Your therapist can explore which type(s) of anxiety you are engaging in, the impact it is having upon your life and help you to find healthier ways of managing. 

There are various therapeutic approaches that can be used to improve anxiety, for example, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Compassion Focussed Therapy and Mindfulness based approaches.  Your therapist will collaborate with you on which approach is most suited to you and your needs, in support of your goals.  You may benefit from learning various models of anxiety that increase your awareness and understanding of your body and provide you with mental and physical coping strategies that reduce the frequency and/or intensity of symptoms. 

The ‘Anxiety and Panic cycle’ is often addressed in therapy, consisting of negative thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and rumination on repeat, which can be exhausting for people.  If this sounds familiar, please note that it is possible to break the cycle and learn distress tolerance methods using online therapy.  Please remember that the goal is never to rid yourself of anxiety, as it is a necessary function which can even have its advantages once you learn to alter your perspective and embrace more positive ways of thinking and feeling.

No-Obligation discussion

Free initial telephone discussion

If you are looking for online therapy for anxiety please contact Teresa Lewis for a 15 minute no obligation discussion. Teresa is a BACP Senior Accredited Counsellor and Psychotherapist so she will be able to briefly discuss your issues, answer questions and explain more about how online therapy can help anxiety.  At this time you can decide whether you would like to book an appointment.  The discussion is conducted without any obligation to book an appointment.

Make an appointment for online therapy

If you would like to speak to one of our therapists regarding online therapy for anxiety please call: 01902 827808.  Alternatively, fill out our online contact form and we will contact you within 24 hours.


Medical disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice by a qualified doctor.