What is anxiety?
Everyone will experience anxiety in their life. Anxiety is a normal human feeling of unease or fear that is experienced when we are in a situation that we perceive as frightening or threatening. Although anxiety might feel unpleasant, its function is to keep us alert and help prepare our body for ‘fight or flight’ – to fight the fearful object or situation, or to run away from it. Usually, when we leave the situation or get used to it, the anxiety decreases. However, if the anxiety persists, is ongoing and/or is severe in nature, it can become problematic and can get in the way of life.
How do I know if I have an anxiety problem?
Anxiety is a state characterised by fear and concern and can create feelings of uneasiness, dread and worry. Normally, anxiety is a healthy reaction to something stressful, and can be helpful by allowing you to deal with a difficult situation. However, sometimes it can become excessive and it may begin to interfere with your day-to-day life. There are various anxiety disorders which you may be able to identify with, such as phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety, generalised anxiety, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
When you feel particularly or noticeably anxious, you may feel some or all of these physical effects: sweating, shaking or trembling, chest pain, stomach pain, irritability, agitation, nausea or vomiting, headaches, heart palpitations (you are very aware of your heart beat) or tachycardia (racing heart) and feeling faint.
These symptoms are consistent with most anxiety disorders however some disorders may have their own specific symptoms, such as repeatedly washing your hands in obsessive-compulsive disorder.
If you suffer from anxiety, you may also experience panic attacks in addition to the symptoms listed above. They may occur suddenly or while you’re out shopping. Sufferers of panic attacks often feel like they’re going to die, they’re going insane or they’re having a nervous break down and may even call for emergency services. Hyperventilating, nausea and feeling faint are common symptoms of a panic attack and you might feel anxious for hours or even days afterwards.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder
Generalised anxiety disorder means you may feel worried or distressed about day-to-day, routine and trivial matters. For example, it may be something as small as not having the exact money when you get on a bus, right up to worrying that a common cold may seriously harm someone in your family. You may feel scared and uneasy on a constant basis and worry excessively all day.