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Anxiety is what we feel when we are worried, tense, or afraid – particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future.

Anxiety is a natural human response when we feel that we are under threat. It can be experienced through our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations.

But when does what is natural to us become a problem? When it is impacting your ability to live a fulfilling life, for example, it may be a problem for you if your feelings of anxiety are becoming really hard to control, are out of proportion to situations and you are avoiding contact with family and friends.



The common anxiety disorders are:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

  • Social anxiety disorder 

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • Panic disorder

  • Phobias




  • Feeling tense or being unable to relax

  • Fearing the worst

  • Problems sleeping

  • Being irritable



Panic attacks are a symptom of anxiety. They are a type of fear response where your body exaggerates its normal response to danger and can be really frightening and distressing. They are caused by your body going into “fight or flight” mode.​​

Most panic attacks can last between 5-20 minutes and during a panic attack you might feel like you’re having a heart attack and/or that you are going to faint or even die. Although they are scary, panic attacks are not dangerous and will not cause you any physical harm.

Symptoms can also be physical, these include sweating, dizziness, feeling like your stomach is churning, stronger and faster heartbeat, shortness of breath, faster breathing, aches and pains, sweating, nausea and pins and needles. As mentioned before, if your symptoms fit a certain criteria then you may be diagnosed with a specific anxiety disorder – HOWEVER, it is also possible to experience problems with anxiety without having a diagnosis.

During a panic attack you might feel very afraid that you're:

  • losing control

  • going to faint

  • having a heart attack

  • going to die.



There are a lot of factors that may contribute to the causes of anxiety problems. These include:

  • Past experiences – going through difficult experiences growing up can be a trigger for anxiety problems e.g abuse, loss etc

  • Social factors (i.e. current life circumstances) – problems in your life can also trigger anxiety e.g. stress, feeling under pressure, being out of work, money problems, feeling lonely etc

  • Physical/mental health issues – other problems can trigger anxiety or can make it worse e.g. living with a chronic physical illness or injury, developing anxiety while living with another mental health issue (e.g. depression).

  • Drugs and medication – anxiety can be a side effect of taking some medications for both physical/mental health issues or from taking recreational drugs and/or alcohol.




  • First things first, BREATHE – Breathing is so simple but is always overlooked. Try to slow it down, breathing in through your nose for three seconds and then out through your mouth for five

  • Talk to someone – talking to someone you trust can help in itself, you might find that you just need to vent and be listened to

  • Look after your physical health – get some more sleep, choose a healthier diet and do some exercise!

  • Keep a diary – it might also help if you keep a diary of your experiences so you can look back at it, identify triggers and then be able to anticipate stressful situations and deal with them better.

However, in some cases you might need to get some medical advice. Get some if:

  • After the panic attack you still have a rapid or irregular heartbeat or chest pains

  • You often have panic attacks – this may be a sign that you have panic disorder

  • Your panic attack continues after 20 minutes of slow, deep breathing

  • After your breathing returns to normal you still feel unwell

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