What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.

Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life.

For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting for an exam or having a medical test or job interview.

Most people feel anxious or scared sometimes, but if it’s affecting your life there are things you can try that may help.

(I am looking for a therapist that can help with my anxiety)

Support is also available if you’re finding it hard to cope with anxiety, fear or panic.

Common Questions about Anxiety

Are there different types of anxiety?

Anxiety can be considered a broad term and covers a range of underlying issues.

These can include:-

  • GAD or Generalised Anxiety Disorder
  • Social anxiety
  • Separation anxiety
  • OCD or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Adjustment Disorder
  • Phobias
  • Panic attacks

If you are experiencing symptoms your therapist can help you learn more about it and guide you towards an approach to support.

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

Anxiety can result in both mental and physical symptoms including

  • feeling worried or persistent feelings of dread
  • impatience
  • feeling restless
  • difficulty in concentration
  • trouble sleeping
  • dizzy spells
  • heart palpitations
  • being easily fatigued
  • irritability and anger
  • muscle and stomach aches
  • unexplained pains
  • increased blood pressure

What are anxiety Disorders?

It must be stressed that anxiety is a normal human reaction to stress. It can beneficial. By alerting to dangers it helps us prepare and become focussed.

Anxiety disorders are usually different from what could be described as ‘normal’ feelings of nervousness or anxiousness and is generally where the anxiety or fear can be excessive.

Anxiety disorders are very common and affect about 1 in 3 of the adult population.

Anxiety disorders are treatable and can help people lead normal lives.

When should I get help for anxiety?

Feelings of anxiety at certain times are completely normal.

If you find that it is affecting your daily life or causing you more stress than seems normal, then please get in touch with your GP. Your GP may diagnose you as having generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). Your GP may also refer you to a therapist who can help you deal with the symptoms.

Where can I find an Anxiety Therapist?

We have created a list of therapists that specialise in anxiety.

At the Centre for Therapy simply search for ‘Anxiety’ and you will find all the therapists listed on our website that can counsel you for Anxiety.

What causes Anxiety?

In terms of GAD, it is not fully understood what causes it.

There are several factors that can combine to create anxiety and these include:

  • Overactivity in the brain in the areas that deal with emotions and behaviour
  • Imbalances in the chemicals in the brain that regulate and control mood – serotonin and noradrenaline.
  • having a history of traumatic or stressful experiences, such as domestic violence, child abuse or bullying
  • having other long-term painful health conditions (e.g. Fibromyalgia or Rheumatoid Arthritis)
  • the genes that you have inherited – you are more likely to develop generalised anxiety disorder if you have a close relative that also has the condition
  • having a history of alcohol or drug misuse

It should be noted that many people have developed generalised anxiety disorder for no known reasons.

Who does anxiety affect?

It is estimated that anxiety affects up to 5% of the population or 1 in 20 people.

Slightly more women are affected than men and the condition is more common in people aged 35 to 59.

How do I get a diagnosis of anxiety?

The first place to start to get a diagnosis for anxiety is to call your GP.

How is anxiety treated?

There are a variety of ways that Anxiety can be treated

The best first step is to speak with your GP.

Treatments can include:-

  • Psychological Therapies (e.g. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy CBT)
  • Guided self-help. This may involve working through a CBT-based course in your own time on a computer and maybe with the support of a therapist
  • Group courses – you and other people with similar issues work through your anxiety together
  • Applied relaxation
  • Medication

Other blog posts about Anxiety

Can I still be a leader if I have anxiety?

Six things to do if you wake up feeling anxious

Further resources on anxiety

What Is Anxiety? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention

Article by Lindsay Konkel on the Everyday Health website.

Can anxiety affect your tongue?

Article by Saundra Montijo on the PsychCentral website

What is Anxiety? A guide to coping from Oxford Health

Download ‘What is Anxiety a guide to cope’.

What is Anxiety? An article on the website

Written by Tanja Jovanovic, Ph.D.  this article on anxiety explores anxiety, factors, symptoms and therapies.

A Five-Minute Breathing Exercise for Anxiety and Mood

Written by Hadley Legget, a freelance medical writer from Seattle, this article discusses a breathing exercise known as ‘cyclic sighing’ and how it can help you feel less anxious and develop more positive emotions.

As anxiety levels have soared around the world due to the pandemic a study led by David Spiegel at Stanford University investigates these breathing techniques.

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