Denise Grobbelaar:


Jungian Analyst, Psychotherapist & Clinical Psychologist.

Understanding Anxiety

Worry is a common human emotion, surfacing in response to known stressors such as financial difficulties, employment-related issues, relationship troubles, and major life events. It is normal to experience such feelings from time to time, but when these concerns escalate and persist, affecting daily functioning, it may signal Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

Individuals with GAD find it challenging to control their worry, experiencing restlessness, irritability, sleep disturbances, fatigue, and muscle tension. Cognitive symptoms may include difficulty in concentrating and a sense of mental blankness.

Ordinary worry patterns often act as motivators, driving individuals to excel in various aspects of life. However, when anxiety becomes severe, it can hinder performance and impair decision-making. In extreme cases, it may disable a person, affecting their ability to engage in daily tasks or social interactions. Unchecked anxiety can escalate to phobias and panic attacks, making life uncomfortable and saturated with fear and dread.

Phobias, such as fear of heights or social situations, and panic attacks, characterized by intense fear and physiological symptoms, can seriously disrupt daily life. Panic attacks involve a variety of symptoms including difficulty breathing, chest pains, stomach discomfort, numbness, sweating, and a fear of losing control or dying. While the intensity of anxiety that can be coped with varies among individuals, recognizing when anxiety constrains one's life is crucial.

Anxiety, an unpleasant emotion indicating perceived threats, manifests in various textures, ranging from mild uneasiness to acute distress. Recognizing triggers and understanding thoughts contributing to anxiety can be helpful. For some, intrusive and persistent thoughts, known as obsessions, lead to severe distress. Attempts to suppress these thoughts or neutralize them by means of specific behaviours or mental acts, known as compulsions, may be made.

Anxiety can be a chronic condition requiring treatment. A combination of medication and psychotherapy is often effective. Minor fears can be overcome by understanding triggers, and examining contributing thoughts can provide insight. People who have experienced developmental trauma and persistent parental failures may be more susceptible to anxiety, especially if linked with emotional dysregulation in the family system. While a direct cause of anxiety may not always be clear, recognizing and addressing it is essential for maintaining mental well-being.

Social and speech anxiety, often grouped under the umbrella term social anxiety disorder, can significantly impact an individual's well-being. This condition is characterized by an intense fear of social situations, leading to heightened self-consciousness and worry about judgment from others. Whether it's interacting with peers, speaking in public, or participating in everyday activities, those with social anxiety may experience overwhelming distress. This anxiety can hinder personal and professional growth, affecting relationships and opportunities.