A nxiety is a state of alert that you feel when you are afraid and think that something bad could happen. Anxiety is an emotion that is part of our life and that we all experience sometimes. Anxiety can be useful, as it helps you react in dangerous situations (for example, a fire) and can also motivate you to work hard to achieve a goal (for example, in studies or at work).
However, anxiety can also appear when there is no danger, or when we react disproportionately to a stimulus (for example, systematically blocking yourself from an exam or a job interview; or having catastrophic thoughts when you experience a normal physical sensation). In these cases, we could be facing an anxiety disorder.
Imagine that you have been invited to a party where you do not know anyone and you have thoughts of the following type: “nobody is going to talk to me”, “I will have a terrible time”, or “the others will think that I am a very boring person”. All of them unfoundedly anticipate a negative situation that has not occurred and cause you discomfort.
Our body has a system to help you escape danger. This is where the physical sensations of anxiety appear: the heart may begin to beat faster, we may experience a feeling of suffocation, tremors, sweats, or dizziness.
Our body does not always distinguish between a situation of real and imaginary danger. For this reason, the bodily sensations described above appear not only when we are in physical danger, but also when our mind perceives an unreal “threat” (for example, the “threat” of having to attend a party where we don’t know anyone, or the “threat” of failing an exam). These physical sensations are not pleasant, but they cannot harm you.
I f think you may be experiencing anxiety, think of someone to talk to. It is not always easy to ask for help, but it is important to externalise your feelings: other people will not be able to help you if they do not know what you are going through.
L ater it will be necessary to seek specialised help. For example, talk to your family doctor so that he can refer you to a psychologist, or find a psychologist for yourself that seems a good option.
As part of the COVID-19 epidemic and following the recommendations of the Belgian Commission of Psychologists, the office remains open but only with online consultations by Skype.
I will keep you informed of any changes.