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Download our Anxiety Factsheet here. PDF Format.
What is it?
Anxiety is feeling that everyone will experience at some point. We all experience it when faced with situations we find threatening or difficult. People may often use the term ‘stress’, but this is not the same as anxiety. Anxiety may affect somebody both mentally and physically and carry a range of symptoms. Anxiety may be caused by an ongoing worry or, as a sudden response to something that may make us feel scared or threatened (fear).
Normally, both fear and anxiety can be helpful, helping us to avoid dangerous situations, making us alert and giving us the motivation to deal with problems. However, if the feelings become too strong or go for too long, they can stop us from doing the things we want to and can make our lives miserable.
About one in every ten people will experience anxiety or a phobia (see below) at some point in their lives.1
Signs and Symptoms
•Feeling worried all the time
•Unable to concentrate
•Irregular heartbeats (palpitations)
•Muscle tension and pains
A surge of anxiety may cause panic and cause the person to quickly get out of whatever situation they happen to be in. Anxiety and panic are often accompanied by feelings of depression – low mood, loss of appetite and seeing the future as bleak and hopeless.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a form of anxiety that may occur after circumstances that have been so upsetting and threatening that the anxiety they cause can go on long after the event. These are usually life threatening situations like car crashes, train crashes or fires. The people involved can feel nervous and anxious for months or years after the event, even if they have been physically unharmed.
What causes anxiety?
Research suggests that anxiety can be due to genes, however, someone can also become anxious due to external factors e.g. pressure or ongoing worry.
Using drugs like amphetamines, LSD or Ecstasy can sometimes cause anxiety. A simple effect like the caffeine in coffee can often be enough to cause mild anxiety.
However, it should be noted that anxiety can be due to a mixture of personality, things that have happened to someone, or life-changes such as pregnancy.
A person with a phobia has intense symptoms of anxiety, But that will arise from time to time when confronted with something that frightens them. At other times they don't feel anxious. Examples of phobias include fear of open spaces or fear of heights
Sufferers may feel silly about their fear/phobia as they know there is no real but they are still unable to control it
A range of options are available to deal with anxiety. Talking about the problem to friends or family can be beneficial.
Finding ways of learning to relax can help control anxiety and tension. Everything from books and video tapes to seeking professional advice can offer an insight on how to relax.
Self-help groups and psychotherapy are other options that may help come to terms with reasons for anxiety.
Medication can have a role to play if the other options are not appropriate. The most common tranquillisers are the valium-like drugs, the benzodiazepines (most sleeping tablets also belong to this class of drugs). They are very effective at relieving anxiety, but they can be addictive after only four weeks regular use. When people try to stop taking them they may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms which can go on for some time. These drugs should be only used for short periods, perhaps to help during a crisis. They should not be used for longer-term treatment of anxiety.
Download our Anxiery Factsheet here. PDF Format.