Anxiety

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry or fear. While everyone can feel anxious at some point in their lives, for some people anxiety is an ongoing problem.  Anxiety can also be a symptom of another condition, such as generalised anxiety (or excessive worrying), panic disorder (when you have panic attacks), or post-traumatic stress disorder, which is triggered by frightening or distressing events. Anxiety can also be specific to particular times (e.g. phobias), situations (e.g. social anxiety), or things (e.g. health anxiety).  Anxiety is highly treatable, but left alone, it can have significant consequences for physical health and quality of life (see TED talk here). 

Symptoms

Symptoms of anxiety are varied, but can include: 

  • feeling worried or uneasy a lot of the time
  • having difficulty sleeping, which can then make you feel tired
  • difficulties concentrating 
  • being irritable, defensive or on edge, or tearful 
  • being hyper vigilant and unable to relax 
  • breathing faster, having palpitations (an irregular heartbeat), feeling sick, headaches and / or sweating
  • feeling faint, or needing the toilet more frequently
  • "butterflies" in your tummy
  • needing frequent reassurance from other people

Treatment towards better

Anxiety is highly treatable with cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), sometimes alongside anti-anxiety medicines.  Also, many people with anxiety can benefit by making lifestyle changes themselves, such as getting more exercise, cutting down on alcohol, stopping smoking and eating more healthily.  Self-care and compassion are also vital because symptoms can improve when we look after ourselves, and treat ourselves with kindness, care and respect.