Specialised Help for Anxiety Disorders

If you suffer from anxiety, phobias or panic attacks, you are certainly not alone. A quarter of the adult population experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life.(1) This amounts to about 80 million people in the US and 125 million in the EU (including 16 million in the UK).
Severe anxiety can make you feel very unwell or that
you need to escape quickly from wherever you are.
I am specialised in all types of anxiety (certified), with over 20 years training and experience. I also have first hand personal experience of four types of adult anxiety disorder, as well as two types of childhood anxiety. Because of this I believe that I understand anxiety disorders, how it feels to be anxious, and how to deal with it.

I have a very gentle approach to clients treating anxiety. My program includes Hypnotherapy, Education, Solution-focused Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and traditional Hypnoanalytic Therapy. However I approach each personality and individual differently. This is essential to enable you to take back control and lead a successful life.

If you experience a high level of distress or find it difficult to function, you have a relatively serious anxiety disorder. It is known that the longer you've been ill with anxiety, the less likely you are to recover without help. So it is important to act sooner rather than later to remedy persistent anxiety and get back to enjoying life.

I start by listening and gathering information. Together we unravel the nature of the fear - what triggers your anxiety, what factors are contributing and why. Gentle techniques are then used to resolve fears and create the changes you need to feel normal again.

By combining the best of several different styles of therapy the vast majority of people with anxiety can be helped.

The following is not intended for self diagnosis, but given to help you understand which type(s) of anxiety might be affecting you. Note that, rarely, anxiety can be caused by a physical condition (e.g. hyperthyroidism or Addison's disease), so I always recommend that you discuss your concerns with your doctor, as well as coming to see me.


You may not have thought of it this way but if you are experiencing stress you already have many of the symptoms of low-grade anxiety: tense muscles, headaches, worry, irritability, inability to relax, tiredness, poor sleep and feelings of being under pressure. Even if you more usually feel angry and irritable there is normally an underlying sense of fear or threat. One or more things in your life feel pressurised, frustrated, out of control or unmanageable. Most commonly this will be in the areas of work, relationships, health or finance.

Stress is not an anxiety disorder but it is an indication that something needs to change. Unending stress can result in both physical and mental illness.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

The condition of generalised chronic anxiety (lasting many months), with constant worrying about a variety of issues, and physical symptoms suggestive of a mild chronic emergency response - muscle aches, headaches, poor digestion, easily startled and problems with sleep (typically finding it difficult to fall asleep with a mind that won't stop thinking). 
Persistent generalized anxiety can be exhausting and
take the joy out of life.

People with generalised anxiety frequently jump to conclusions, predicting what could go wrong and thinking up worst case scenarios. They spend a lot of time and energy thinking about and trying to solve problems - an attempt to lower anxiety by reducing outside 'threats'. Generalised anxiety is not as disabling as some of the other types of anxiety, but can be very distressing, drains your energy and sucks the joy out of life.

Simple Phobia

The person functions normally in most areas of life but is acutely frightened of something most people regard as harmless, and usually attempts to avoid that situation. Common phobias include spiders, mice and other types of animals, flying, driving/driving on certain roads, vomiting, enclosed spaces, thunderstorms, and many others. 
A fear of flying may lead you to miss out on family
holidays or job opportunities.

How much a phobia interferes with your life usually depends on how easily you can avoid it. Certain phobias however (a good example is emetophobia or fear of vomiting) can become obsessive, causing a great deal of distress even when the feared event is unlikely to happen.

Social Phobia/Social Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety and panic brought on by being in social or performance situations. Symptoms often include nausea, blushing, sweating, shaking and vocal changes. It is essentially the fear of exposure and negative evaluation (disapproval) by others, closely connected to feelings of shame or painful embarrassment. There is usually marked avoidance of feared situations, which can become extremely limiting socially and at work. 

Social anxiety may be specific, as in the case of performing on stage or giving presentations; or generalised - encompassing almost any situation where you need to interact with people. Sufferers may appear shy or withdrawn even though inwardly they desire contact with people. 

Common social anxieties include speaking up in groups, talking to the opposite sex, eating with people, using public toilets, and vomiting in a public place. It just seems to be sod's law that the symptoms of social anxiety tend to be particularly visible to others, creating a fear of being seen to be nervous, blushing, etc, creating a vicious cycle of anxiety and symptoms.

Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder is identified by discrete, out of the blue, episodes of severe panic with very strong physical symptoms - racing heart, rapid breathing (hyperventilation), dizziness, and other physical signs of fear. Often, especially at first, the sufferer misinterprets the symptoms (eg chest pain) and assumes he/she is medically ill or even about to die. This can result in a trip to A&E where the whole episode concludes with reassurance and some emergency pills. 

After one or more episodes the person is likely to develop a continuous fear of having another attack, and will seek to avoid it at all costs. When a panic attack occurs the brain makes the 'mistake' of associating whatever is happening at the time with the onset of the attack. For example, if you happen to be in the supermarket when it happens, subsequently you are likely to become fearful in supermarkets. 
Initially panic attacks may lead to a trip to the
emergency department, although are not dangerous
in and of themselves.

The illness progresses as more and more situations have to be avoided and life becomes limited. In this way panic disorder overlaps with agoraphobia.


Really the fear of leaving home or entering situations where one can start to feel trapped. It is often (but not always) associated with panic attacks, where the real fear is of having an attack and not being able to escape quickly enough, or having an attack away from the safety of home. 

Agoraphobics tend to avoid places like supermarkets, crowds, public transport, going far from home, and in severe cases leaving the front door. They will usually seek to stay at he edge of any gathering, near the exit door if indoors. Similarly they will sit near the aisle at the theatre to avoid being trapped. Some have difficulty visiting the hairdresser or standing in a queue - situations where escape would be difficult without some embarrassment. 

A variation of agoraphobia that we see quite often is adult separation anxiety - essentially the fear of being away from a safe person.

Separation Anxiety

Loosely related to agoraphobia is separation anxiety – the fear of being left alone or leaving home without a safe person. It is a common anxiety of childhood (along with school phobia) and adult sufferers often show exaggerated dependence on spouse or family, sometimes qualifying for a diagnosis of codependency or dependent personality disorder (though not necessarily). 

Most anxiety disorders (with the exceptions of specific phobia and PTSD) tend to accompany a fundamental lack of self confidence; but it is most obvious and pronounced in separation anxiety.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

This condition includes one or more phobias but is also marked by flashbacks and recurring nightmares. The symptoms have an obvious cause in some situation that is recognizably traumatic. We are familiar with the classical causes of PTSD - war, natural disasters, accident scenes - but it can also be triggered by more personal events, such as rape, domestic abuse, personal assault or sudden illness.

1. Kessler RC et al (2005): Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry Jun 62(6):593-602
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