Anxiety – Avoidance Issues
There is a distinct difference between fear and anxiety. Fear is a normal part of human life and it usually occurs in response to realistic, anticipated danger. The fear response initiates a series of behavioral and physical changes that help us adapt to dangerous situations. Anxiety incurs a similar response, but usually in the absence of real danger. Hence anxiety is typically linked to perceived danger.
It’s important to seek support for an anxiety disorder. Engaging with an anxiety psychologist in Melbourne may help to provide support.
When it comes to behavioral issues, the overwhelming urges associated with the fight or flight response are either aggression and/or a desire to escape, but if this is not possible, people can sometimes express these urges through foot tapping, pacing, or mild aggression.
The parasympathetic branch of the nervous system helps with the restoration of all systems after the danger passes, but it takes some time and there are always residual effects from the fight or flight response.
An individual with an anxiety disorder often escapes or avoids, which, in short term offers relief, but in long term can cause more anxiety, more worry, loss of confidence, and increased use of safety behaviors.
Avoidance helps only in short term but actually causes more issues long term.
Safety behavior helps cope with anxiety and these may include; medication, substances, and/or strong social avoidance. Some individuals become dependent on safety behaviors and learn to suppress emotions or heighten them in response.
An important part of recovery is gradually confronting feared situations in what psychologists call “exposure therapy”.
When facing fears, there might be an initial increase in anxiety in the short term, but this can lead to a decrease in the long term as an individual develops coping skills to reduce their anxiety to a manageable level. Exposure therapy can lead to an individual believing more in their own ability to control their responses.
Aside from fear and anxiety, stress is another consideration.
Stress occurs when a person is under some kind of pressure and they believe they don’t have sufficient resources to cope. Stress can be short-term (meeting a deadline) and long-term (living with pain). Stress and anxiety both trigger the fight or flight response and they can feel similar.
Some of the most common symptoms of stress are moodiness, interrupted sleep, back and neck pain, upset stomach, increased blood pressure, chest pains, rashes, headaches, etc. Engaging with a psychologist in Melbourne can help to manage stress.
In order to manage stress, it’s important to find the stressors that trigger the fight or flight response. Many different things can act as stressors- relationships with others, work-related issues, illnesses, life changes, multiple tasks, and roles we have, etc.
Regular exercise is very important for a healthy and balanced lifestyle that doesn’t affect only the physical aspects of life but also mental. Regular sleep and eating patterns also help with mental health, just as learning breathing techniques and gaining more education about the source of the problem.