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Mental Health Awareness Week: Anxiety

Posted: 9 May 2017 at 8:04 am | Author: Alison German

Anxiety is used to describe feelings of unease, worry and fear.

This includes physical sensations we might experience when we are struggling with anxiety. It’s normal to feel tense and fearful at the prospect of big event or decision you’re facing, especially if it is going to have a big influence on your future; for example sitting an exam, attending an interview, starting a new job, having a baby or deciding to get married. Anxiety is part of our normal biological reaction to feeling threatened.

Anxiety becomes a problem when the symptoms intensify and last for a long period of time. For example, you might find that you are worrying about normal everyday activities that you would usually cope with well. You might find yourself avoiding simple tasks out of fear and worry, and retreating in to yourself/cutting off your support networks. You could be having unrealistic worries about scenarios that will never occur, or worrying about worrying (and worrying about worrying about worrying!) Along with this you might experience regular panic attacks.

If you find that anxiety is hindering your ability to live day-to-day, it is important to look for ways to help yourself. Primarily this would involve seeking a diagnosis, as depending on the nature of your anxiety you could be diagnosed with a specific type of disorder, such as obsessive compulsive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. Treatment options include talking therapies, which can help you understand the source of your anxiety and evaluate/change your thought patterns in order to cope better when you find yourself in situations that trigger anxiety. Certain types of medication are also available where needed.

Although a natural response to anxiety is avoiding what triggers fear, facing up to what makes you anxious can be a helpful first step in breaking the cycle of insecurity. Day-to-day it is important to make sure you’re helping yourself cope as much as possible. For example by talking to people you trust about what you’re going through, joining a support network, getting regular exercise or trying breathing and mental exercise that can help you shift your point of view and focus on the current moment.

If you feel anxiety is becoming an issue for you, there is also the option to self-refer to counselling. You could do this by seeing if self-referral NHS services are available in your area by looking at the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme website. Further information on anxiety, and details about where to seek help, can be found here.

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