Many of us can develop anxiety at some point or another. Learn how to recognize and cope with the condition
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a term that’s used to describe distressing feelings of worry and tension. We have all felt nervous about something, whether that’s a job interview or our school grades.
Anxiety affects everyone, no matter what their age, gender and background are. It affects how we feel, how we behave, and our thoughts. Anxiety can leave us feeling frightened, even panicky, and we feel like we can’t do things.
Anxiety is a normal response to threat and can be very helpful to help us prepare for certain situations. But if you feel anxious frequently and without a valid reason, it can severely affect us and stop us from living our lives as normal.
Symptoms of anxiety
Anxiety can affect us in three main ways:
- Pounding heart/palpitations
- A churning stomach
- Difficulty breathing/short of breath
- Grinding your teeth
- Aches and pains in your body
- Going to the toilet more very often
- Feeling light-headed
- Worrying about the worst – “what if I embarrass myself?”
- Fear of death – “I’m going to have a heart attack”
- Feel like other people are watching you
- Fear if you stop worrying, bad things will happen
- Thinking about a situation over and over again
- Worrying about the future excessively
- Avoiding going out
- Avoiding friends or family
- Repeat the same worries again and again
- Constant need for someone to be with us for safety
- Unable to concentrate and hold down a job
Different types of anxiety
Anxiety is experienced in different ways. Commonly diagnosed anxiety disorders include:
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
When you have uncontrollable worries about many different things in your life.
Social anxiety disorder
You are fearful or experience extreme anxiety by social situations, whether that’s at a party or at your workplace. Any situation where you talk to another person is a trigger.
A phobia is an extreme fear or anxiety that’s triggered by a certain situation or objects. The reaction is not proportional to the trigger (e.g. seeing a spider or going to the supermarket).
Having a panic attack with no clear reason. You can be afraid of having another panic attack, which is a trigger itself.
Someone with health anxiety is very fearful about illnesses. People with health anxiety often misinterpret normal physical sensations of having a terminal disease.
Who is at risk?
Everyone feels anxious at some point or another. You should seek help if you find yourself worrying too much and it affects your work, relationships or other parts of your life.
What can I do if I have anxiety?
If you feel your anxiety, take the first step and speak to someone. There are different types of therapy which can help. Talking therapies, such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) or counselling, can help you understand the condition better and learn effective coping strategies.