Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry or fear which, when persistent and impacting on daily life may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Generalised Anxiety Disorder, which is one common type of anxiety disorder, is estimated to impact 5.9% of adults in England.
Symptoms of anxiety include changes in thoughts and behaviour such as:
- A feeling of dread
- A feeling of being “on-edge”
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
It can also involve physical feelings such as dizziness, nausea, heart palpitations (a noticeably strong, fast heartbeat), sweating, shortness of breath, headache, or dry mouth.
Occasionally feeling anxious, particularly about events or situations that are challenging or threatening, is a normal and extremely common response. However, if feelings of anxiety regularly cause significant distress or they start to impact on your ability to carry out your daily life, for example withdrawing or avoiding contact with friends and family, feeling unable to go to work, or avoiding places and situations then it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
Types of Anxiety Disorder
There are different types of anxiety disorder, each of which will have slightly different symptoms and treatment. Some examples of anxiety disorders include:
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder (regular sudden attacks of panic or fear)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Specific Phobias (overwhelming and incapacitating fear of a specific object, place, situation or feeling)
There are many different factors that may contribute to the development of mental health problems like anxiety disorders. These factors include biological factors (for example genetics, experience of chronic physical illness or injury and psychological or social factors (experiences of trauma or adversity in childhood, struggles with income or poverty, employment status, family and personal relationships, and living or work environment.
There are a range of approaches for treatment and management of anxiety disorders, and the most appropriate method will vary depending on the type and severity of anxiety disorder, and personal circumstances.
Some common approaches to managing and treating anxiety disorders include:
This can involve working through thoughts, feelings and behaviours with a clinical psychologist or other mental health professional in regular sessions over a set period of time.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which helps to teach strategies for recognising and overcoming distressing or anxious thoughts, is one of the most common therapies for treatment and management of anxiety disorders.
Self-Help and Self-Management:
This involves specially-designed resources (like information sheets, workbooks, exercises, or online programmes and courses) to support people to manage their feelings of anxiety in their own time.
Some of these approaches may involve the support of a therapist or other mental health professional, and some may be entirely self-led.
Group sessions with other individuals experiencing similar problems where people can work through ways of managing anxiety. Some groups may involve the support of a therapist or other mental health professional.
Your GP or other healthcare provider can discuss different medication options to manage both the physical and psychological symptoms of anxiety. There is a range of medication that can be used to manage anxiety and it is important to discuss with your GP which one would be most appropriate for your circumstances.