Feeling Anxious

Anxiety

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. The first day of school, going to a job interview, or giving a speech may cause most people to feel fearful and nervous. Anxiety is a natural human response when we perceive that we are under threat. It can be experienced through our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations

Most people feel anxious at times. It’s particularly common to experience some anxiety while coping with stressful events or changes, especially if they could have a big impact on your life

 

Heart palpitations and blood pressure may raise

What is the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response?

Like all animals, human beings have evolved ways to help us protect ourselves from danger. When we feel under threat our bodies react by releasing certain hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones:

  • make us feel more alert, so we can act faster
  • make our hearts beat faster, quickly sending blood to where it’s needed most.

After we feel the threat has passed, our bodies release other hormones to help our muscles relax. This can sometimes cause us to shake.

When is anxiety a mental health problem?

Anxiety can become a mental health problem if it impacts on your ability to live your life as fully as you want to. For example, it may be a problem for you if:

  • your feelings of anxiety are very strong or last for a long time
  • your fears or worries are out of proportion to the situation
  • you avoid situations that might cause you to feel anxious
  • your worries feel very distressing or are hard to control
  • you regularly experience symptoms of anxiety, which could include panic attacks
  • you find it hard to go about your everyday life or do things you enjoy.

 

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.

Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam, or having a medical test or job interview.

During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal.

But some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives.

Anxiety is the main symptom of several conditions, including:

Anxiety is the main symptom of several conditions, including:

  • panic disorder
  • phobias, such as agoraphobia or claustrophobia
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • social anxiety disorder (social phobia)

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Symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

GAD can cause both psychological (mental) and physical symptoms.

These vary from person to person, but can include:

  • having trouble concentrating or sleeping
  • dizzinessor heart palpitations
  • restlessness, and a feeling of being “on-edge”
  • uncontrollable feelings of worry
  • increased irritability
  • concentration difficulties
  • sleep difficulties, such as problems in falling or staying asleep

 

When to get help for anxiety

Although feelings of anxiety at certain times are completely normal, see a GP if anxiety is affecting your daily life or causing you distress.

Your GP will ask about your symptoms and your worries, fears and emotions to find out if you could have GAD.

Self-help for generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

There are also many things you can do yourself to help reduce your anxiety, such as:

  • going on a self-help course
  • exercising regularly
  • stopping smoking
  • cutting down on the amount of alcohol and caffeine you drink

Separation anxiety disorder: High levels of anxiety after separation from a person or place that provides feelings of security or safety characterize separation anxiety disorder. Separation might sometimes result in panic symptoms.

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