Do you spend a lot of time worrying and find it difficult to stop? Do you worry about almost everything all the time? Do you worry excessively about what people may think of you? Do you get really nervous and are lost for words when you are in social situations? Do you have specific fears like: public speaking, driving on a freeway, getting in an elevator, flying in an aeroplane, dark places, heights or animals? Do you avoid people or places because the fear becomes so overwhelming it paralyzes you?

Do you experience physical symptoms like strong, rapid heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dry mouth, trouble swallowing, nausea, diarrhoea or shaking and worry that there is something wrong with your health? Does it feel like you are going to have a heart attack or go ‘crazy’? Do you frequently obsess about the past or the future?

The good news is that these are all common signs of anxiety that your psychologist can help you learn strategies to deal with. Some anxiety is ‘normal’ and even necessary under certain circumstances but when it interferes with your ability to work, social interactions and your daily life it stops you from living a full life. Many people find it difficult to understand emotions. They feel like a failure when they experience emotions that they can ‘t stop and think that it means that they are weak or not coping. Why do we need them at all? You are not alone in trying to work this out.

We are born with a complete set of emotions but we are never formally taught what they are there for or how to manage them. No wonder so many people feel overwhelmed and inadequate when emotions feel out of control. It seems embarrassing to ask about managing out of control feelings and it seems like everyone else just knows what to do with them. There are very few open conversations about how others are managing feelings behind close doors.

What makes it even more confusing is when the symptoms you are experiencing are physical but the doesn’t seem to be any medical explanation. It often leads people to seek assistance from their GP convinced they are suffering from a physical illness. When there is no know biological reason for physical symptoms it may be helpful to explore whether these physical symptoms are connected to anxiety. Your psychologist is equipped to help you reduce anxiety symptoms so that they don’t interfere with your daily functioning.