Ever get that feeling that can make you feel physically sick, or you start to sweat and panic when ordering a meal, or not knowing if you’re going to be able to escape a situation in daily life? Then it could be Anxiety.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.

Most of the time, everyone will have a feeling of anxiety at some point in their life- for example being worried or anxious about sitting an exam, going to the doctors or a job interview.

But for some people, they can find it extremely hard to control their worries. Feelings of anxiety are more constant and can affect their daily lifes.

Anxiety is a symptom of many conditions including:

Panic disorder:This is an anxiety disorder where you regularly have sudden attacks of panic or fear. It’s not to say that everyone doesn’t experience feelings of anxiety and panic at certain times. It’s a natural response to any stressful situations.

But for someone with panic disorder, feelings of anxiety, stress and panic occur regularly and at any time.

Phobias: such as agoraphobia and claustrophobia. Agoraphobia is a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult or that help wouldn’t be available if things go wrong. Its a fear of open spaces, things like travelling on public transport, visiting a shopping centre or leaving home.

Claustrophobia: is the irrational fear of confined spaces. It’s normal to fear being trapped when it’s a general threat, but people with claustrophobia become fearful in situations where there’s no realistic danger. Triggers can be lifts, tunnels, tube trains, planes etc.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): An anxiety disorder caused by stressful, frightening or distressing events. They often relive the traumatic events through nightmares and flashbacks, could experience feelings of isolation or guilt. Things that can cause PTSD- serious road accidents, violent personal assaults and traumatic birth.

Social anxiety disorder: This can also go by the name ‘social phobia’, it is a long-lasting and overwhelming fear of social situations. It’s a fear that doesn’t go away, it affects everyday activities, self-confidence, relationships, work or school life.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD): A little different from major anxiety types. People with OCD engage in repetitive behaviours. It is considered a from of anxiety because people with this feel intensely anxious when they aren’t able to perform certain behaviours. Some common symptoms could be: hand washing, obsessive cleaning, performing counting tasks.

Causes for Anxiety:

  • Over-activity in areas of the brain involved in emotions or behaviour
  • An imbalance of the brain chemicals serotonin and nor adrenaline, which control and regulate the mood
  • The genes you inherit from your parents- you’re estimated to be 5 times more likely to develop anxiety if you have a close relative with the condition
  • Having history of stressful or traumatic experiences, such as domestic violence, child abuse or bullying.
  • Having a history of drug or alcohol misuse.

Symptoms of anxiety could include:

  • Panic, fear and uneasiness.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Not being able to stay calm and still.
  • Cold, sweaty, numb or tingling hands and feet.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Nausea.

How do you know if you even have it?

We all get nervous, we all struggle to talk to people we don’t know, we get worried when we’re put in situations we don’t want to be in, but for some it’s extremely difficult.

  • Excessive worry: Worrying far to much about literally anything no matter how big or small. It means having persistent anxious thoughts most days of the week. It can interfere with daily life and is accompanied by symptoms such as fatigue.
  • Muscle tension: Whether it consists of clenching of the jaw, balling your fists, or flexing muscles throughout your body, often accompanies to anxiety disorders.
  • Stage fright: Fair enough, most people get at least a few butterflies before addressing a group of people. People with social anxiety tend to worry for days or even weeks leading up to a particular event or situation and if they do end up going through with it, they will tend to be deeply uncomfortable and will dwell on it for a long time.
  • Self-consciousness: Social anxiety disorder doesn’t always have to involve a crowd. In most cases, it is provoked by everyday situations such as making a conversation at a party, or eating and drinking in front of people. People with social anxiety disorder tend to feel eyes are on them, they may experience blushing, trembling, nausea, profuse sweating or difficulty talking.

How can you help yourself?

If you deal with anxiety on a regular basis, medication doesn’t always have to be the only treatment.

To calm your mind and cut stress, try working on some self-care tips:

Move your body- Exercise is an important part of physical and mental health. It can hopefully help ease feelings of anxiety and help your well-being. Shoot for three to five 30 minute workouts a week. Be sure to choose exercises you enjoy so you look forward to them.

Pay attention to sleep- Quality and quantity are important for a good sleep. Doctors recommend 8 hours of sleep a night. If anxiety is making it hard to fall asleep, create a simple routine to help you catch some more zzzs:

  • Leave the screens behind
  • Try sticking to a certain schedule
  • Be sure your bed is cosy
  • Keep your room temperature more on the cool side

Ease up on caffeine and alcohol

It can actually make anxiety kick into overdrive. Cut back to avoid them if you can. Remember coffee and soda aren’t the only things with caffeine, it can also be in diet pills, headache medicines, chocolate and tea.

Breathe deep

It send a message to your brain that you’re ok. That helps your mind and body relax. Lie down on a flat surface and put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Take a slow breath in and make sure your stomach fills with enough that you can feel it rise slightly. Hold it for a second, then slowly release.

Be the boss of your own thoughts

Turn them negative thoughts into positive ones, as difficult as it can be it’ll help a lot. The best way to do this is to picture your fears head on, the more you do this in your mind the easier it’ll be to deal with when it happens.

Look for triggers

Think of some times and places where you noticed yourself feeling more anxious. Write them down, it’ll help. Look for certain patterns and work out ways you can avoid or confront the panic and worry.

A really scary part of anxiety is panic attacks, it is commonly known as an anxiety disorder called panic disorder.

What can you do during a panic attack to make it stop?

When you’re having a full blown panic attack, it can be extremely challenging to stop it.

  • Start by breathing in.
  • As you’re breathing in, count in your head (or out loud) for about 6 seconds.
  • It’s also important that you breathe through your nose.
  • Then breathe out for about 7 to 8 seconds.
  • Repeat the method a few times during the panic attack.

Some people find success in regularly practising yoga, meditation and breathing exercises.

There are ways you can help ease the feelings of anxiety but if it is server, the best help to get is from a professional or talk to a counsellor if you suffer with any of the disorders spoke about above, don’t suffer alone!

Call Anxiety UK on 03444 775 774 text 07537416905 or email support@anxietyuk.org.uk

Call Mens Health Forum on call 020 7922 7908 or visit their website to contact them online.

Call No Panic on 0844 967 4848 or email info@nopanic.org.uk.



Student Journalist