Anxiety is a normal human emotion characterized by feelings of worry, nervousness, or fear. It is a normal response to stress and can be beneficial in some situations, as it can help a person to stay alert and focused. However, when anxiety becomes chronic, it can interfere with a person's daily life and well-being.
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions characterized by persistent, excessive, and irrational worry or fear about everyday situations. These conditions can cause physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, and muscle tension. Some common types of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias.
There are many factors that can contribute to the development of anxiety, and the cause can be different for each individual. Some common causes of anxiety include:
Life events or experiences, such as a death in the family, a divorce, or a move to a new place
Genetic predisposition – a family history of anxiety or other mental health conditions can increase the risk
Health problems, such as an overactive thyroid or an irregular heartbeat
Substance abuse – alcohol or drug abuse can cause or worsen anxiety
Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality
Chronic stress, such as work-related stress or financial stress
It is also important to note that some people may be more prone to anxiety due to their personality or coping style. It is not uncommon for people who are perfectionists or who have a tendency to worry excessively to be more at risk for anxiety disorders.
There are a number of things you can do to help manage your anxiety:
If possible, address the issue that is directly causing the anxiety.
Exercise regularly: Exercise can help to reduce stress and improve mood, which can in turn help to reduce anxiety.
Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can contribute to anxiety, so it is important to make sure you are getting enough rest.
Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet that is rich in nutrients can help to improve mood and reduce anxiety.
Limit caffeine and alcohol: Caffeine and alcohol can both exacerbate anxiety, so it is important to limit your intake.
Talk to someone: Sharing your feelings and concerns with a trusted friend or family member can be a helpful way to cope with anxiety.
Take breaks and practice self-care: Make sure to take breaks from your daily routine and engage in activities that you enjoy and that help you to relax.
If you have tried all self care routes and they aren't working for you, it may be time to seek the help of a mental health professional.
There are many types of mental health professionals who can help with anxiety in the UK:
Clinical psychologists: Clinical psychologists are trained in the assessment and treatment of mental health conditions. They can use a variety of therapeutic techniques, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and EMDR therapy to help you manage your anxiety.
Psychiatrists: Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in the treatment of mental health conditions. They can provide therapy and can also prescribe medication if needed.
Clinical nurse specialists: Clinical nurse specialists are nurses who have specialised training in the assessment and treatment of mental health conditions. They can provide therapy and support to help you manage your anxiety.
Mental health nurses: Mental health nurses are trained in the assessment and treatment of mental health conditions. They can provide therapy and support to help you manage your anxiety.
It is important to find a mental health professional who is a good fit for you and your needs. You can ask your GP for referrals, or you can search for a mental health professional in your area on the NHS website or on the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) website.
Here are some other links to services that are available to people suffering from anxiety:
NHS choices -Provides a wealth of information on treatments for anxiety available through the NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/mental-health-services/
Anxiety UK -Advice and support for people living with anxiety. https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk
Fear Fighter - A computer-based CBT programme for people who struggle with phobias or feelings of panic or anxiety. https://fightingfear.co.uk
SAMH Scottish Association for Mental Health - Support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities. https://www.samh.org.uk
Breathing Space - A free, confidential phone and web based service for people in Scotland experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety. https://breathingspace.scot
Rethink mental illness - Advice and support for a range of mental health conditions. https://www.rethink.org