'T' is for Triggers.

16 May 2014

I'm sorry, I know it's the weekend, but I'm nearly done with my week of blogs looking at A.N.X.I.E.T.Y., and we're up to the letter T, for Triggers, a tricky subject I know. Picture it as a mountain climb – we're giving ourselves one final push to the top, and then we can all relax and enjoy a glorious overview of what we've learned.

Many people who suffer from anxiety find themselves triggered by certain situations or people. Some triggers are obvious – such as getting stuck in a lift or having to give a speech – but others less so. Sometimes we can be triggered when something happens to us in the present which echoes a past bad experience. I get very jumpy when people walk quite close behind me, for instance, and this goes back to a time when a youth ran up and grabbed my handbag. Rationally I know not every pedestrian is about to mug me, and understanding that I've been triggered makes it easier to deal with the rising panic, but still, when I feel someone is walking too close, I tend to step aside and let them pass, so I no longer feel vulnerable.

I'm glad this sensitive subject has come close to the end of this series, as if you look back at my previous blogs, you'll find tools which you can use when you get triggered. The breathing exercises I explained on Thursday can ease symptoms if you're overwhelmed by panic, and many find mindfulness practice (which I touched upon on Tuesday) very valuable.

At other times however, we may not know why we're getting triggered – and suggesting it's possible to ease deeper issues in a simple blog would be naïve and irresponsible. Instead I'd recommend seeking professional help. Start by visiting your doctor, who can check that your anxiety isn't caused by a medical condition, such as a thyroid problem, altered blood sugar levels, or asthma. Once a medical cause is ruled out, he or she may be able to prescribe medication. Beta blockers can ease the adrenaline rushes, for example, although they won't treat the underlying cause of your anxiety. To help with this, the next step is to consult a therapist who has experience of anxiety attacks and disorders. The therapist will work with you to determine the type of your anxiety disorder and devise a course of treatment.

Meanwhile, remember, if you can, that it will pass. Nothing in life is permanent, including anxiety.

Sarah Rayner

A Moodscope member.

Every day during Mental Health Awareness Week, Moodscope are giving away a signed copy of Sarah Rayner's new novel, Another Night, Another Day, available exclusively from Waterstones. Its focus is mental health, and it's a touching yet ultimately uplifting story of ordinary folk living through the extraordinary things life can throw at us all. Today is another chance to win. Just email support@moodscope.com with 'Giveaway' as the subject and we'll pick one person each day to receive a free signed copy.


The Moodscope Team.

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