What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. It tends to focus on the worry or fear of uncertainty in the future. Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life.

For example, It is normal to feel anxious about moving to a new place, starting a new job or taking a test.

Although this type of anxiety may feel unpleasant it is short-lived and is often necessary to motivate us to make changes in our lives, often for the better. This ordinary anxiety comes and goes and causes us no harm as it does not interfere with our everyday lives.

Where the feeling of anxiety persists, become increasingly intense, or even debilitation, this is referred to as an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder and can affect anyone at any age.

Anxiety Treatment

What are the types of anxiety disorders?

There are a number of different anxiety disorders. These include:

Generalised Anxiety Disorder includes persistent and excessive anxiety, worry or fear about activities or events.

The level of worry experienced is excessive in relation to the actual circumstance. It is difficult to control and may even seem irrational to the person experiencing it, yet they feel they have no control over it. It can affect how they feel physically as well as emotionally. Generalised anxiety often occurs along with other anxiety disorders or depression.

Phobias are an excessive fear of a particular situation, event or thing.

Panic Disorder is the experiencing of recurring episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety or fear. These are also known as panic attacks. Such episodes are associated with feelings of chest pain, shortness of breath, a rapid, fluttering or pounding heart and a strong sense of impending doom. A person with panic disorder may live in fear of the next panic attack.

Social Anxiety Disorder is an extreme fear of social situations associated with feelings of being self-conscious, embarrassed and worried about being judged by others.

Illness Anxiety Disorder (formally called hypochondria) is the fear of becoming ill. This may be directed at one specific illness (eg cancer) or ill in general. It is now understood that fear weakens the immune systems and so having such anxiety may induce an illness that was not previously there. Obsessive-compulsive Disorder is the recurring of irrational thoughts that lead you to perform specific, repeated behaviours.

Obsessive-compulsive Disorder is the recurring of irrational thoughts that lead you to perform specific, repeated behaviours.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety feels different for each person experiencing it. With ordinary anxiety, the feelings may include butterflies in the stomach or an elevated heart rate, or a sense of losing control.

Where the anxiety is more pronounced or extreme the signs and symptoms can be more extreme.

Common signs and symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Feelings of fear
  • Butterflies in the stomach
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Feeling nervous or tense
  • Sweating
  • Breathing rapidly
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Lack of concentration
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Stomach problems

Anxiety is also a recognised Neurophysiological Disorder (NPD), disorders caused in part by negative or stressful thoughts, and as such any of the recognised disorders associated with NPD can be seen manifesting with anxiety.


The causes of anxiety disorders are not fully understood. Anxiety can be triggered by life experiences, inherited traits, health issues, a side effect of medication or alcohol.  

Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety and stress are often seen as being intertwined, like the two sides of a coin. Stress is caused by excessive demands on the mind or body, for example by an event that induces worry or nervousness.  Anxiety is that same worry and fear and is a reaction to the stress.

It is worth noting that not all anxiety or stress is bad, we need a certain amount in our lives to help motivate us to move on to better circumstances or situations.


When diagnosed with anxiety a doctor may prescribe medication, such as ant-depressants or sedatives, or they may recommend counselling or psychotherapy to help with understanding the triggers and how to help reduce anxiety levels.

How to deal with anxiety - we teach HOW to move forward

At The Hannon Clinic, our focus is on teaching the tools and techniques on how to move forward. This is done through the understanding of the different types of thought we have, why we have them, and more importantly HOW to stop them.

The Distraction Process has been developed from Dympna Hannon’s own experience (read Dympna’s story) of having suffered two years of workplace bullying. This left Dympna extremely stressed, anxious and fearful. 

The Distraction Process focus on interrupting the negative habit loops of the subconscious mind that we develop over time and that cause many of our anxieties. 

Where counselling helps you to understand the causes and triggers, by you exploring and examining your own experiences, thoughts and feelings, what we do is teach you how to move on from these and to create a more balanced life.