What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal healthy reaction. It happens to everyone at times of danger and in stressful situations. Anxiety becomes a problem if it occurs when there is no real danger or when it goes on long after the stress is over.
Anxiety is the second most common reason for accessing psychological therapies, after depression. A certain level of anxiety is normal in difficult situations. If, however, you experience stress, sleeplessness, panic attacks, phobias and other physical symptoms regularly in normal circumstances, you may be experiencing anxiety.
What are the symptoms?
Anxiety affects both the mind and the body.
Bodily symptoms include:
- Muscle tension
- Breathing more rapidly
- Feeling sick
- An irregular or racing heart beat
What types of treatment are recommended?
Treatment for anxiety usually involves self-help, talking therapies and medication.
Self-help can be a very useful first step in tackling anxiety. You can join a self-help group or access self-help books or online information and support. IAPT services often provide support and guidance in using self-help materials.
The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for problems with anxiety.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helps you to identify how thoughts and behaviour impact on your emotions and bodily symptoms. The aim is to develop more balanced thinking patterns and change unhelpful behaviour patterns that may cause or prolong symptoms of anxiety.
If you would like to receive help for anxiety you can ask your GP for information about local mental health services or you can refer yourself directly to a service.