Could talking about anxiety make it worse?

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My last therapist smiled gently as she ushered me out of her office. ‘See you next week,’ she said, and my heart  sank. She was the fifth psychotherapist I’d seen over a lifetime  of anxiety, but I was beginning to realise that talking about my worries only seemed to be making them worse.

Every session, we’d follow tributaries of angst and discuss my  sad childhood experiences. Sometimes,  I felt I was treading water in a pool of my own tears, like the mouse in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

I was an anxious child: school phobia at five, worry-induced insomnia by nine, first panic attack at 16. At 21, I left university because I couldn’t attend lectures without having a panic attack so huge I thought  I was going to die.

The latest therapies – and who they can help

Different therapies work for different people, so always consult your GP.

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)

Used for sufferers of PTSD, the therapist will help you recall the trauma while focusing on back-and- forth eye movements.

Mindfulness therapy

You’ll learn breathing techniques and how to stay in the moment, which can be very helpful for panic attacks, as can hypnotherapy.

Exposure therapy

Often used alongside CBT to treat social anxiety, a therapist will gradually expose you to the feared situations, until you’re comfortable entering those situations alone.

Advanced integrative therapy

Not for sceptics of alternative medicine, it combines elements of CBT with touching your ‘energy centres’ to replace negative thoughts with realistic, positive ones, and is used for issues ranging from mild anxiety to PTSD.

Tapping therapy

Like acupuncture without the needles, this works by tapping on various meridian lines on the body with your fingertips to release negative energy. It was used by the Duchess of Cornwall to overcome her fear of flying.

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