Managing Anxiety with CBT For Dummies,
Managing Anxiety with CBT For Dummies gives you the tools you need to overcome anxiety and expand your horizons for a healthy, balanced life. Graham Davey is Professor of Psychology at the University of Sussex and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Experimental Psychopathology. Kate Cavanagh is a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the University of Sussex. Fergal Jones is a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent. Lydia Turner is a Consultant Psychological Therapist, and Adrian Whittington is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, both based at the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
Managing Anxiety with CBT For Dummies,
All About Anxiety
In This Chapter
Finding out why and how you experience anxiety
Discovering the benefits of anxiety
Knowing when anxiety becomes a problem
Using CBT to alleviate anxiety
Anxiety is just one of a number of important emotions that you experience on a daily basis and that have important effects on the way you think and behave. Most importantly, anxiety is an emotion that can have beneficial effects (making you alert and focused when faced with potential challenges) or it can be debilitating and distressing if it takes over your life and feels uncontrollable.
In this chapter we lay the foundations for a thorough understanding of anxiety. We explain what exactly anxiety is, and why and how you experience it. We determine when it is that anxiety becomes a problem, and seems to control you. Finally, we introduce you to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): what it is, and how it can help you.
Understanding the Basics of Anxiety
Everyone experiences many emotions on a daily basis. In this section we look at some of those emotions, including anxiety, and explain that emotions - even anxiety - can be useful when experienced at the right time and in the right amount.
Knowing that anxiety is a normal, and useful, emotion
Your feelings have evolved to serve adaptive purposes and, in most cases, they help you to solve problems that you encounter. Here are some important emotions that you experience pretty much daily:
Anger in response to feeling challenged or thwarted.
Anxiety in response to anticipated threats.
Disgust in response to repulsive or sickening things or events.
Fear in response to immediate perceived threats.
Happiness/joy in response to things that you find positive or rewarding.
Sadness/sorrow in response to losses or failures you experience.
In general, positive emotions like joy make you feel good (because you associate them with achievement and reward) and negative emotions like anger tend to feel unpleasant (because you associate then with threats, challenges and losses). Nevertheless, the significance of all emotions is that they help you react to, adapt to and deal more successfully with these various types of life events.
So in the case of anxiety, most people are willing to put up with the unpleasant feeling that anxiety gives them because the emotion helps them to deal more effectively with the threats and challenges they face in day-to-day life. Yes, we're talking about a positive side to anxiety. Table 1-1 provides everyday examples of the advantages of the emotion.
Table 1-1 The Benefits of Anxiety
Threat or Challenge
Benefits of Anxiety
Preparing for an interview
Feeling a bit anxious makes you focus on the interview and provides a level of arousal that ensures that you're motivated and alert to answer questions.
Meeting an important person for the first time (for example on a date)
Normal levels of anxiety enable you to think through a few of the things that might happen during the meeting and prepare yourself to deal with these possibilities.
Finding your bank balance is overdrawn
A bit of anxiety focuses you on the problem and helps you to problem-solve how you could get your bank balance back into the black.
Appreciating the purpose of anxiety
To survive as living organisms, people must be able to effectively deal with all those things in the world that are likely to pose threats to survival. Many unsophisticated organisms survive by having biologically pre-wired responses to basic threats. Humans too have some respons