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Anxiety is a form of stress. It a normal feeling for all people to experience at some point in their lives. However, sometimes it becomes so distressing it influences a person’s ability to carry out regular daily activities. It can be experienced in thoughts, feelings, physical sensations or some combination of the three.

There are many causes of anxiety which may include: family history of anxiety, exhaustion, extreme stress, financial worries or feeling isolated. Past childhood experiences such as neglect, trauma, bereavement or bullying may also result in someone struggling with anxiety. This list is just a small sample of potential factors that can lead to a struggle with anxiety. Keep in mind, it is very dependent on an individual’s personal circumstances and the possible reasons are endless.

Anxiety is a byproduct of the freeze, flight or fight response. It is there to make us feel alert and ready to react in situations where a reaction might be imperative and beneficial. It is considered to be a mental health problem when it starts impacting on your ability to live your life. The effects anxiety can have on your life may include:

  • You feel unable to control the level of anxiety though stress management techniques
  • The anxious feelings last for a long time or are very strong
  • It impacts your ability to eat or sleep properly
  • You feel panicked when you need to do things that are basic requirements in life like make a phone call, take a trip to a local shop, or use public transport
  • You start avoiding situations that may make you feel anxious because you fear you don’t have the ability to cope

Some people with anxiety may experience panic attacks or anxiety attacks. The symptoms of these vary from one individual to another but commonly include symptoms such as: shortness of breath, shaking or trembling, feeling out of control, sweating or feeling extremely cold, a raised heart rate, feeling weak, pins and needles, dizziness, feeling pain in your chest, a feeling of extreme fear and many more.

Diagnosis of anxiety should start by talking to your primary care doctor. If they feel that you have anxiety problems they may start you on a medication regime or refer you to a psychiatrist for further support.

There are treatments to manage anxiety such as medication, therapy and stress relief techniques. Peer support from family and friends or online communities can be helpful. Self care can also be beneficial. Activities such as yoga or swimming or any pastimes you enjoy may assist you in relaxing and relieving stress.

It’s important that if you feel any of these symptoms apply to you that you seek medical advice from your GP. If you fear it is urgent, contact your local emergency room.