Anxiety levels are rising among the UK public, largely caused by the cost of living crisis, specifically energy bills, according to the Office of National Statistics.
A quarter (24 percent) of young adults claim the ongoing “cost-of-living crisis” is the leading cause of anxiety in their life. Rising energy bills, fuel and food prices (43 percent) are hitting their finances the hardest. The findings come from PayPal’s Gen Z Financial Wellness Study, which polled 1,000 young UK adults aged 18 to 25, exploring their greatest financial challenges and how they are taking charge of their financial well-being.
With the cost of living at an all-time high in the UK, and individuals still reeling from pandemic lockdowns anxiety is more prevalent than ever as we face more financial stresses and pressures on just the essentials and paying the household bills.
The cost-of-living crisis will continue this process, as lack of money, or indeed the perception of losing, it a huge factor in mental health. Undoubtedly the rising cost of living will push many people towards the brink of poverty. The link between poverty and ill mental health is often said to have a strong correlation as the more an individual faces additional stress, in particular the stress caused by financial hardship the more they are at risk of developing acute and then potentially chronic mood disorders which may trigger other mental health problems such as anxiety due to the impact of stress hormones and our maladaptive coping strategies.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety, as a disorder, is when someone feels an overwhelming sense of worry continuously or repeatedly for several months. It is different to the short term worry someone might feel about a job interview or sitting an exam. If you have anxiety you may feel that your thoughts and feelings are out of control and it is causing you distress.
Anxiety is a recognised mental disorder that has a significant impact on the daily lives of many. It’s not known for sure how many people experience it, but a 2014 survey by NHS England suggests that at any given time as many as one in six people in England have a Common Mental Disorder (which includes depression as well as the different types of anxiety).
How Do You Know If You Have Anxiety?
Just like there are many different types of anxiety, people may experience it in different ways. It might affect you physically, how you behave and what you think. Symptoms of anxiety can also co-exist with depression and other mental disorders.
Common symptoms of anxiety include:
- Trouble concentrating and forgetfulness
- Feeling tearful
- Obsessive Thoughts
- Loss of Appetite
- Increased Blood Pressure
- Easily Tired
- Muscle Tension
- Sleep Disturbance
- Not being able to Relax
- Avoiding New Experiences
- Constantly Checking Things (Compulsive Behaviours)
- Not Taking Care of Yourself
Treating Anxiety Without Medication?
Many people with anxiety aren’t formally diagnosed by their doctor and you don’t need to have seen your GP before seeking treatment with us. Lots of people, even with mild symptoms of anxiety, can benefit from therapy.
While medication can help those experiencing anxiety, many people find that therapy helps them to understand their condition better and to manage the triggers when they emerge. The NHS usually recommends psychological treatment before prescribing medication and NICE recommends Cognitive Behavioural Treatment (CBT) for Anxiety.
At Hope Therapy we offer a range of options to help manage anxiety including counselling to identify the underlying causes, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).
Counselling involves talking about your feelings to a therapist who will listen without judgment. We don’t usually give advice, but rather we allow you to understand your feelings better by encouraging you to talk which can help you to see your thoughts in a different way.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy involves supporting you to identify your current thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours to help challenge them and to develop coping strategies. By breaking down overwhelming fears into smaller parts it can make them easier to change and to stop patterns repeating. Studies have found that CBT is one of the most effective treatments for Generalised Anxiety Disorder with the benefits lasting longer than medication.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy works well as a relapse management programme. It uses mindfulness to help you become more aware of what you are thinking and how you are feeling. This allows you to better apply the principles of cognitive therapy.
If the cost of living is weighing on your mind and causing you anxiety it’s vital not to try to cope with this alone.