We all feel anxious and stressed from time to time but this is usually related to a specific situation or event e.g. when you have an exam coming up, when you go on a first date or when you are about to start at a new school, all those things can leave us feeling nervous.
Usually though, once the event has passed, or we get used to our new environment, these feelings pass.
People often say they feel anxious or they feel stressed, but that is not the same as having an anxiety condition or as suffering from stress.
In both of these situations, the feelings which are associated with anxiety or stress are with the person all the time, even when it doesn’t seem that there is anything to feel anxious or stressed about.
Some people find their body has symptoms of feeling panicked while others may be most troubled by racing negative thoughts or worry.
Everyone is different and some symptoms may be more relevant to some than others.
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Anxiety can be exhibited in a number of ways. Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a term used to describe a feeling of anxiety which goes across all aspects of your life rather than being specific to certain areas. GAD is common affecting around 1 in 25 people in the UK. The worry and anxiety which you feel can make just getting through the day difficult and doing everyday tasks more of a challenge.
If you feel anxious about one particular thing such as going outside or meeting new people it may be that you have a phobia. Phobias are intense feelings of anxiety and panic which are so strong that they can actually stop you from doing something because of the fear. Phobias can be about aspects of life which seem normal to other people and therefore some people do find them embarrassing. Often when you have a phobia, you know that it is irrational but it is still difficult to overcome it.
There are lots of treatments which are available to help you overcome or manage your phobias which are often in the form of different types of counselling such as CBT which teaches you to change the way that you think about particular things. So you don’t need to live with a phobia just speak to someone who you trust and arrange to see your GP who will be able to offer you help.
If you find that your anxiety comes in sudden bouts with symptoms such as difficulty breathing and chest pains it may be that you are having panic attacks. Panic attacks can be very frightening when they happen and you may be left feeling as though you are totally out of control. Eventually the panic will settle down and pass. If you think that this is what is happening to you, always go and see you GP as it is important to make sure that any physical symptoms are checked. Again, you don’t need to live with panic attacks and you GP will be able to arrange counselling for you to learn new ways of coping to reduce the attacks and help you feel more in control.