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What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a word we use to describe feelings of unease, worry and fear which can be based around what is going to happen or go wrong. The emotions and the physical sensations are based around what we might experience when we are worried or nervous about something. Although we can usually find our anxiety unpleasant, anxiety is a normal human function that is related to the ‘fight or flight’ response – our biological reaction to feeling threatened.

You know what it’s like to feel anxious or nervous from time to time. It’s common to feel tense or perhaps fearful at the thought of a stressful event or decision you could be facing especially if it could have a big impact on your life. Example could be:-

Financial worries or concerns

  • Job security
  • sitting an exam
  • going into hospital
  • attending an interview
  • starting a new job
  • moving away from home for a job or university
  • having a baby or separation from your children
  • being diagnosed with an illness or living with pain
  • getting married or divorced

In situations like these it’s understandable to have worries about how you will cope, or what the outcome will be as we can sometimes be unsure. For a short time you might even find it hard to sleep, eat or concentrate and this can help to increase the feelings of our anxiety. Then normally, after a short while, when the situation has passed or when we have the support we need, the feelings of anxiety can stop.

When does our anxiety become a problem?

Because anxiety is a normal human response, it’s sometimes hard to know when it’s becoming a problem for you but if your feelings of anxiety are very strong, last for a long time, or feel overwhelming then seeking extra help, support and understanding could be necessary.

You might find that you’re worrying all the time, perhaps about things that are a regular part of everyday life, or about things that aren’t likely to happen or even worrying about worrying.

You might regularly experience unpleasant physical and psychological effects of anxiety, and maybe panic attacks.

Depending on the kind of problems you experience, you might be given a diagnosis of a specific anxiety disorder.

If anxiety is affecting your ability to live your life the way you’d like to, it’s worth thinking about ways to help yourself, and what kind of treatments are available.


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