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Dr. Beverley Marais  DPsych  CPsychol  CSci  AFBPsS  UKCP reg.  HCPC reg.  FDAP


Anxiety, and the underlying emotion of fear, is universal human experience. Along with depression it is the most common disorder in Britain (according to the Mental Health Foundation).

Some people suffer from anxiety more than others. Feeling anxious, for example, before making a speech or going to a job interview is understandable, given that it could potentially be embarrassing for someone or if they fear rejection. But what if the anxiety experienced is a fear of one’s own thoughts? And what if these thoughts were highly irrational? This unusual anxiety disorder is known as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). There are also generalised anxiety disorders as well as those triggered by specific events.

In cases where individuals experience intense anxiety, they tend to find it hard to control their feelings, thoughts and at times, behaviours. Anxiety can also lead to worrying and repetitive thoughts patterns that, in turn, increase anxiety states. Symptoms of anxiety can include (and or not limited to):

Increased heart rate

Feeling tense

Sweaty palms


Difficulty breathing

Feeling on edge

Negative emotions


Anxiety as a disorder can begin on a small scale and then expand as the individual then begins to organise their world in order to accommodate or relieve their anxious feelings. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Anxiety Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (also known as CBT), aims to help people become aware of their thoughts, feelings and behaviours and the effect these have on maintaining their levels of anxiety. CBT is a useful tool to help all levels of anxiety and has been proven to relieve individuals of their symptoms. The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that CBT should be considered from the beginning for treating anxiety. It is recommended to be the first call to action, followed by pharmaceutical methods. CBT treatment for anxiety involves identifying triggers to anxiety, some of the distorted thoughts associated with these and then helping the individual to challenge these distortions in order to reach more realistic appraisals of a situation. Unhealthy coping styles are gradually eliminated through the use of behavioural experiments.

For further reading:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy -

CBT for Anxiety -

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