Anxiety and Overwhelm

  • Anxiety or overwhelm accompany many long term symptoms including the chronic pain. We often don’t realise that they are a key part of the picture. It may manifest as a strong symptom such as panic attacks or more subtly as sleep disturbance and brain fog.
  • Anxiety can be as a result of a specific incident or long term stress. It can make the pain symptoms worse which in turn heightens the anxiety and this then perpetuates the vicious cycle.
  • In most people with long term persistent pain there is an element of overwhelm that produces a generalised tension and ‘fizzing’ within the tissues of the body.
  • Often what we think of as purely physical symptoms, such as pain and stiffness, are actually strongly connected to an emotional event (or the emotional reaction to a physical event) that can have occurred as far back as childhood. This event, or series of events, causes a heightened state of alertness in the fight/flight response controlled by the amygdala in the brain. Once the brain is in persistent panic mode it only needs a small ongoing stress or a triggering event to cause the overwhelm that eventually manifests in the body as symptoms such as pain or panic attacks. This is the body’s way of trying to slow us down and remove us from the threat. In the past this would have been escaping from a lion but now the same effect can be caused by social media…the brain doesn’t always know the difference between small or large threat.
  • In everyday life people in social or work situations become triggering because there actions are unpredictable and can’t be controlled and we find that often chronic pain sufferers end up withdrawing from friends, family and work.
  • Keeping busy to distract yourself from the uncomfortable feelings, which is easy to do, also perpetuates the cycle.
  • Anxiety if often one of the parts of chronic illness that is hardest to talk about. It is often much easier to talk about the pain but addressing the anxiety and overwhelm can make a huge difference to recovery.

Osteopathic treatment can help to break the physical side of the anxiety cycle and our osteopaths are trained help you to recognise and identify what might be the past or present triggers. Usually we are able to help reduce the anxiety symptoms but if required or requested we will find you some further appropriate support.

The Meditation, Breathing Techniques, Tapping and Tai Chi areas of the toolkit have been included as they are an effective way to start decreasing the overwhelm.

Select what feels right for you.