Anxiety is an inevitable part of life in contemporary society. Anxiety is how we feel in situations that we find are stressful or scary. It is a response to some vague, distant, or even unrecognized danger. It is distinguished from fear in that fear is usually directed towards some concrete external object or situation, such as missing a deadline or being socially rejected. It can be difficult to identify the exact source of the feeling of anxiety, but the focus is more internal than external.
Anxiety disorders are distinguished from everyday, normal anxiety in that it is more intense and lasts longer - perhaps even months after the stressful situation has passed. Alternatively, the anxiety can cause phobias that interfere with daily life. These disorders include panic attacks, social phobia, agoraphobia, and specific phobias, such as a fear of animals, heights, or travelling by airplane.
A survey, such as Edmund J. Bourne's Self-Diagnosis Questionnaire, can help determine the presence of an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders have physiological, behavioural, and psychological symptoms, often all at once. Physiological signs include rapid heartbeat, palpitations, muscle tension, queasiness, dry mouth or sweating, nausea, and shortness of breath. On a behavioural level, it can sabotage one's ability to act, express oneself, and deal with everyday situations. Psychologically, anxiety is a subjective state of apprehension and uneasiness.
Often, anxiety can be brought on by merely thinking about a particular situation. Predisposing causes of anxiety include hereditary factors, childhood circumstances, and stress that accumulates over time. Behaviours that maintain long-term anxiety include anxious self-talk, mistaken beliefs, withheld feelings, lack of assertiveness, lack of self-nurturing skills, avoidance of phobic situations, muscle tension, using stimulants, a high-stress lifestyle, and lack of meaning or sense of purpose. Substances that aggravate anxiety include caffeine, nicotine, stimulant drugs, salt, preservatives, hormones in meat, and simple sugars. Poor eating habits and food allergies can also aggravate anxiety.
The Orthodox Approach
Clients may be offered anti-anxiety medications, beta-blockers, or other medication that will reduce symptoms and allow relatively normal functioning.
The IMI Approach
IMI offers a holistic approach to anxiety, incorporating counselling psychology, naturopathic remedies, and lifestyle recommendations to support the client mentally, spiritually, and physically.
A counselling psychologist may use a variety of techniques to help the client change subjective interpretations or self-talk that merely perpetuate apprehension and worry. The client will also learn to eliminate avoidance behaviour. Other therapies for anxiety include relaxation training, meditation, mindfulness practice, emotional freedom technique (EFT), cognitive therapy, life purpose visualization, exposure and response prevention (ERP), self-awareness development, and assertiveness training.
IMI practitioners also recommend lifestyle practices to support these therapies. These practices include an exercise programme, breathing skills, relaxation, meditation, and good nutritional habits.