If you have experienced repeated periods of Anxiety you may wonder can Anxiety improve? Anxiety is something that all people experience to a stronger or lesser extent.
Anxiety is the body’s natural response to a threat or danger and has an evolutionary basis. Anxiety causes us to go into a state of readiness for conflict, this leads to muscle tension and increased heart rate.
Anxiety also causes stress in the body and mind. This exists as internal conflict and catastrophising of the possible outcomes of the threat that exists. Anxiety becomes diagnosable when it starts significantly impairing an individual’s life beyond regular worry and apprehension that most people experience as Anxiety day to day.
How is Anxiety Diagnosed?
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a diagnosable condition in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM). The DSM describes a clinical diagnosis of GAD as excessive Anxiety and worry occurring most days for a minimum of six months.
Specific Symptoms that those with GAD experience include;
- fatiguing easily
- difficulty concentrating
- muscle tension
- sleep disturbance,
These symptoms can have a significant impairment on an individuals life broadly. Importantly, such Anxiety will exist in relation to mundane, routine events that a person will engage in every day.
This then presents for a person with GAD as a persistent pattern of worry, apprehension of negative events, and fear in their everyday interactions without the presence of an immediate threat that would warrant a usual Anxiety response. Those with GAD tend to catastrophise routine situations and mentally turn them into fearful possibilities. A person with GAD may feel that they are unable to escape worry and a sense of doom.
Can Anxiety Improve?
Fortunately, Anxiety and GAD are very well understood. Anxiety has been researched to highlight the symptoms described above and has identified a pattern of unhelpful thoughts and beliefs that lead to the catastrophising thoughts that escalate Anxiety.
Often a number of self-defeating beliefs underlie a number of unhelpful ideas and perceptions of one’s environment that lead to escalated negative expectations of everyday events that exist in the process of catastrophising.
This then leads those with GAD to escape and avoid situations that give them Anxiety. If you know someone with high Anxiety or someone who will often avoid situations that would make them nervous, it may be difficult to talk to them about this.
Often people with heightened Anxiety will also avoid talking about what makes them anxious as they are likely to be content with a pattern of avoidance if that helps them to feel safe.
How does CBT help with Anxiety?
If you suffer high Anxiety or you believe that someone you know does, it is recommended that you seek, or encourage that person to seek a consultation with a mental health professional.
This being, a therapeutic approach with a Psychologist or Counsellor can help to initially validate the experiences of the person experiencing the Anxiety and continue to talk through Anxiety provoking situations, as well as the thought processes that occur while they experience that Anxiety using a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy model or CBT.
Furthermore as part of the CBT model, a therapist will challenge catastrophising thoughts and help the individual to assess their thought processes with experienced evidence to test whether their catastrophising – as a theory – is correct or unhelpful to their overall functioning.
This is all done in a supported and non-confrontational way, that also challenges and can change an individuals pattern of thinking to a more adaptable way of interpreting their surroundings.
Anxiety can be a scary thing to experience and to try to challenge, however engaging in a supported form of therapy can be extremely useful in allowing an individual to take control of their thoughts and expectations.