Mental health problems have vastly increased since the onset of the corona pandemic. The long isolation periods incurred due to circumstances such as the lockdown period, has made many people far more anxious when leaving their home. People that were already uncomfortable or anxious around others will now find it even more difficult to feel comfortable when having to interact face to face. In addition, long isolation will always drive anxiety levels up and the likely absence of stimulating cues can make people excessively think about their own problems and thereby cause a corresponding increase in distress. Especially since the problems anxiety sufferers think about are often not real problems and when they are, there is a likely and futile effort to mitigate these. The resulting perceived absence of control can further fuel anxiety.
Anxiety is often driven and increased due our mind’s tendency to focus on short term benefit. This can be easily observed when standing at any train station. Many will try to decrease or avoid feelings or boredom or other forms of discomfort by getting their phones out. If people do this when they experience anxiety, they may welcome the corresponding decrease in distress and this pattern of noticing an anxiety related symptom and avoiding it may become an established pattern. The welcomed distraction a phone provides can also be achieved through other means such as alcohol or through the soothing effect withdrawing into isolation can provide.
The problem is that avoidance of emotions, bodily sensations like an increased heart rate and / or situations that trigger these, subconsciously teach our minds that whatever we are avoiding is a threat (we can even view emotions as a threat and develop anxiety about anxiety). This makes it likely that we will respond even stronger to anxiety provoking experiences when these occur in the future. This increased response in distress will make it likely that we avoid even further, which can ultimately lead down a very destructive, self maintaining cycle which makes us avoid more and more.
Long Term Effects
Avoidance is not the only way how anxiety and general distress may be increased in the long term. Anything which confirms that that which is feared is more threatening than it really is can increase future anxious responses. This could relate to immediately answering every email because one is overly anxious about the etiquette of replying or by exhibiting overly submissive behaviour around anyone who tries to engage in confrontation. These behaviours often relate to trying to control things that are perceived as threatening.
Again, above problem solving approaches towards anxiety often make it worse and can therefore make a sufferer’s world smaller and smaller. It is helpful for many sufferers to learn to sit with distressing emotional states and to confront that which makes them anxious in a helpful way. This is best achieved by finding a suitable therapist in London. Qualified CBT Therapists are often trained to a high degree and know exactly how to effectively treat anxiety. Especially modern, mindfulness based approaches of CBT.
If you are ready to begin your therapy journey, you’re welcome to connect with a psychotherapist in London using our website.