It’s really common to develop anxiety at some point. Find out what causes it and what you can do to feel better.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal, human feeling of fear or panic. When we face stressful situations, it can set off our brain’s in-built alarm bell system, which tells us something isn’t right and that we need to deal with it. Our brain wants the difficult situation to go away, so it makes us feel more alert, stops us thinking about other things, and even pumps more blood to our legs to help us run away.
Most of us worry sometimes – about things like friendships or money – and feel anxious when we’re under stress, like at exam time. But afterwards we usually calm down and feel better.
But when you’re not in a stressful situation, and you still feel worried or panicky, that’s when anxiety can become a problem.
Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried. While stress and anxious feelings are a common response to a situation where we feel under pressure, they usually pass once the stressful situation has passed, or ‘stressor’ is removed.
Everyone feels anxious from time to time. When anxious feelings don’t go away, happen without any particular reason or make it hard to cope with daily life it may be the sign of an anxiety condition.
Types of Anxiety
Many people with anxiety experience symptoms of more than one type of anxiety condition, and may experience depression as well. It’s important to seek support early if you’re experiencing anxiety. Your symptoms may not go away on their own and if left untreated, they can start to take over your life.
There are different types of anxiety. The most common are:
A person feels anxious on most days, worrying about lots of different things, for a period of six months or more.
A person has an intense fear of being criticised, embarrassed or humiliated, even in everyday situations, such as speaking publicly, eating in public, being assertive at work or making small talk.
A person feels very fearful about a particular object or situation and may go to great lengths to avoid it, for example, having an injection or travelling on a plane. There are many different types of phobias.
A person has panic attacks, which are intense, overwhelming and often uncontrollable feelings of anxiety combined with a range of physical symptoms. Someone having a panic attack may experience shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness and excessive perspiration. Sometimes, people experiencing a panic attack think they are having a heart attack or are about to die. If a person has recurrent panic attacks or persistently fears having one for more than a month, they're said to have panic disorder.
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The symptoms of anxiety
You might start out just feeling generally anxious, but if your symptoms get worse or last longer than they should, it could be time to get some support. Symptoms include:
- feeling nervous, on edge, or panicky all the time
- feeling overwhelmed or full of dread
- feeling out of control
- having trouble sleeping
- low appetite
- finding it difficult to concentrate
- feeling tired and grumpy
- heart beating really fast or thinking you’re having a heart attack
- having a dry mouth
- feeling faint
- stomach cramps and/or diarrhoea/needing to pee more than usual
- sweating more than usual
- wobbly legs
- getting very hot
If you experience any of these symptoms above, it doesn’t mean you definitely have an anxiety problem. But if any of them are affecting your everyday life, it’s a good idea to tell someone you trust about how you’re feeling.
Treatment For Anxiety
Find out ways to manage and treat anxiety conditions.