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Nadiya Hussain uses CBT to treat anxiety

June 6, 2019

“Anxiety is probably one of the most lonely, isolating things to have. You are your own worst enemy and you live inside your head. We need to talk…that’s half the healing, we need to talk.”

In a recent BBC One documentary, Nadiya Hussain openly discussed her lifelong struggle with anxiety and panic disorder. With around 5 million people in the UK currently diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, according to the documentary, it’s a very hot topic in desperate need of a voice.

The cameras followed Nadiya, as for the first time in her life, she confronted her anxiety and went in search of treatment, conscious of the effect this disabling disorder was having not just on her own life but on those around her, most notably her husband and children. She described how she used structured routines and activities to help distract her from her constant feelings of worry however, despite these coping mechanisms she still experienced regular panic attacks and a constant sense of anxiety.

“That feeling of worry is always there. I might appear happy and relaxed but its not how I feel” explained Nadiya, “A panic attack makes me feel like I’m going to die - imagine your whole life thinking you are going to die every single day.”

Over 25% of us will experience an anxiety disorder at some time in our lives, and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is considered one of the most effective treatments. Nadiya’s experience with CBT led her to explore triggers from her childhood – crucially enabling her to connect her anxiety with memories of horrific bullying whilst at school, most notably having her head flushed down the toilet. CBT helped her connect the symptoms of her panic attacks to how she felt at that moment when she genuinely felt her life was in danger. Through CBT Nadiya also came to understand that the obsessive routines that she used to control her ‘panic monster’ were actually perpetuating it, the control was controlling her, bullying her into thinking she had to do things a certain way. These realisations were an invaluable first step to helping Nadiya understand and demystify her anxiety.

Due to huge demand for therapy, CBT treatment on the NHS can mean long waiting times, with 1 in 10 people waiting over a year to be seen. Online CBT is a much needed alternative, offering a more accessible, faster way to receive treatment. Nadiya’s experiences of CBT alone illustrate that one thing is clear, …sharing and talking is a key part of the healing.

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Additional reading you may find useful:

More information on the symptoms and possible causes of anxiety

How CBT works

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