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Psychotherapist * Psychotherapy * CBT
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Emotions trigger a physiological reaction such as sweating if anxious or racing heart if agitated or presented with a stressful situation. These symptoms are thought to be evolutionary for survival purposes whereby the autonomic nervous system (ANS) sends signals to other organs muscles and glands. When you're anxious, you may also have a range of physical symptoms. These happen because of your body's so-called 'fight or flight' response, which is caused by the release of the stress hormone adrenaline. The symptoms can include feeling of terror and panic manifested by physiological symptoms such as shortness of breath or smothering, choking sensations, palpitations, chest pain and psychological symptoms such as fear of fainting, extreme fear of insanity, derealisation, depersonalisation and fear of dying. These cluster of symptoms are known as panic attacks.
Trying to rationalise to oneself during a panic attack that everything is OK has little impact when the body is in the throes of receiving adrenaline and other unpleasant feeling neurotransmitters sent out to the body by the brain. Although extremely functional if the person was in real danger (adrenaline facilitates greater strength to defend oneself from an attacker or to run away faster hence the fight or flight scenario), it also causes great distress and anxiety to a person if there is no real danger and the adrenaline is not actually needed. The problem is the brain does not know the difference between a real danger or an emotional danger and releases adrenaline regardless.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an excellent tool to facilitate behavioural change in the nervous system to prevent the release of these unwanted neurotransmitters and hormones. This type of therapy is an excellent intervention for specific phobias such as claustrophobia (fear of closed spaces) or fear of dogs.