What is anxiety?
Symptoms of anxiety
- Excessive anxiety and worry (apprehensive thoughts) about a number of events or activities (such as work or school performance).
- Feelings of restlessness or being on edge.
- Feeling tired, fatigued or exhausted
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of Irritability or anger
- Muscle tension, especially in the neck and shoulders
- Sleep problems including difficulty falling or staying asleep, or unsatisfactory sleep
- Headaches and migraines
- Feeling hot and sweating
- Feeling sick, nauseous, indigestion, upset stomach, IBS
- Being easily startled
- Trembling and shaky
- Shortness of breath or a feeling of not getting enough air in the lungs
- Heart racing or palpitations
- Butterflies in the stomach
The nature of anxiety
- Anxiety is hard-wired by evolution as a response to perceived danger. The fight or flight response is present in humans and animals to protect them from danger. A part of the brain called the amygdala, which emerged about 150 million years ago, takes over when we assess that we are in danger.
- Anxiety represents the malfunction of a normal fear response. The fight or flight response is really useful, it can help to keep us alive. If a car came rushing towards you, the fight or flight response would help you to jump out of the way. However, because we have minds that are always thinking and planning for the future, the fight or flight response is activated when we are not in any danger. That means we can think about anxiety as being a false alarm.
- Anxiety involves the anticipation of danger, pain, or catastrophe. Because anxiety is driven by worry, people with anxiety tend to focus on what could go wrong, rather than what could go right. So, they anticipate terrible things happening to them, such as making a fool of themselves at a party, or their plane crashing, or having developing an illness. Unfortunately, they confuse their thoughts with reality, and they allow their thoughts to hook them in and jerk them around.
The causes of anxiety
What maintains anxiety?
What helps with anxiety?
Medication – For most people who go to their doctors with anxiety, medication is one of the first options available to them. One of the most common types of medication currently prescribed for anxiety are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac. If you have anxiety is it worth talking to your GP about your options.
Person-Centred Counselling – Counselling is available for anxiety both on the NHS and privately. Counselling is an opportunity to talk through your fears and worries in a safe environment with an experienced and qualified counsellor. Counselling can take place from a few weeks to many years depending on the severity of your anxiety.