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Anxiety and overwhelm


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. According to the office for National Statistics (ONS) in 2022/23, an average of 37% of women and 30% of men reported high levels of anxiety. Of those experiencing anxiety, more people (around 60%) reported ‘low’ or ‘very low’ levels of anxiety which can still be cumulatively disruptive.

Anxiety can 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), situation (e.g. social anxiety), or things (e.g. health anxiety). Our clinicians can help clarify any associated conditions.

Anxiety is highly treatable with CBT, but left alone, it can have significant consequences for physical health and quality of life (see TED talk here). 


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, and needing frequent reassurance from other people

Treatment towards better

Anxiety is highly treatable with cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), sometimes alongside anti-anxiety medicines. The CBT therapist aims to alleviates emotional distress by working collaboratively with clients to break probelms into smaller parts and troubleshooting these. The latter can include identifing and ultimately changing maladaptive thinking and thoughts.

Alongside, or prior to therapy 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.

"I used to worry so much.  I just hadn’t realised that there was a different way. I feel more confident now about moving forward.  I am in a far better place now and have a better understanding generally. ... I am definitely more confident about moving forward. Thank you so much"


"I had this (anxiety) problem for many decades, ... but therapy has helped me see a new way of thinking, and a new way of behaving – so that my energy is not wasted any more. ... I have many things now to look forward to each day, and could never have imagined this (social) world that has now opened up to me. I feel very very very thankful. Thank you Ann."

– Martha (social anxiety)

“Absolutely I would recommend CBT, it was a godsend. I was in a tough place ... I was having a hard time physically postcovid; everything was low incl my energy and my mood. I was not sure what to think at the start, but over the sessions I started to implement the strategies, and they have definitely helped me. I am just nicer to myself – and I am nicer to everyone. When you are nicer to yourself you feel better. You did a real good job Ann. I would highly recommend you.”

– Martin: Low mood and anxiety (R459; 6sessions)

“Panic was stopping me functioning. I used to be really shaky too. I should have gone to get help sooner; I just let it go on too long. My advise to anyone else in this situation is not to leave it, as it will not get better. You can learn the techniques, and they do work. This CBT has really helped. The future is opening up so that I have choices now ... rather than being at the mercy of panic. ... In CBT you learn better strategies and why the panic happens, and more importantly, that avoidance doesn’t help. ... Anxiety can be v disabling, but it doesn’t have to be. I would definitely recommend CBT.”

– Teresa: Social anxiety and panic (R431; 6 sessions)