Mind Your Head
Anxiety is a normal response to stress or danger. If you feel frightened or threatened your body prepares itself for 'fight or flight' mode. This involves an increase in heart and breathing rates and the release of stress hormones such as Cortisol and Adrenaline. Whilst a certainly level of anxiety is useful in keeping us safe, problems can arise when your anxiety response is out of proportion to the actual danger of the situation.
Some of the physical symptoms you may have if you are anxious include:
Anxiety also causes psychological symptoms. These can include:
Anxiety can be a result of any number of factors. Sometimes it can be triggered by a major change in your life such as the death of a loved one, the breakup of a romantic relationship, problems at work or moving house. Sometimes anxiety comes as a response to a traumatic event such as a major accident or injury, sexual or domestic abuse or experience of war. In other cases, the daily hassles of life can just get too much for us.
Anxieties may present themselves in the form of phobias. For example; social phobia, agoraphobia, vomit phobia (Emetophobia) spider phobia (Arachnophobia) Anxiety can also appear in the form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Some of the most common anxiety disorders are Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Panic Attacks/Panic Disorder.
When we feel nervous, anxious or frightened our natural response is to avoid the situation or thing which makes us feel this way. However the more we avoid these things, the more we reinforce our anxieties over them. This can leave you feeling less confident and able to deal with your problems.
The best way to avoid this is to gradually expose yourself to the thing that makes you feel anxious. The more you practice this the more confident you will feel in your ability to deal with these situations, this way you can learn how to manage your anxiety levels.
You may find it useful to learn some relaxation techniques which can help you to cope with your feelings of anxiety. They can help you to stay calm and think more clearly. One of the body's natural reactions when we feel anxious is to breathe faster. This can mean you breathe out too much Carbon Dioxide, leaving less of this in your blood stream. Lack of Carbon Dioxide in the blood can leave you feeling light headed and breathless. If you find yourself hyperventilating because of your anxiety you can use the Re-Breathing technique to control it.
The Re-Breathing technique is helpful when you find yourself hyperventilating in a panicked situation, however if you are able to recognise the initial signs of panic and/or anxiety you can use the Slow Breathing exercise to stop yourself reaching the stage where you begin to hyperventilate.
Another technique which you can use when you find yourself beginning to feel tense or anxious is the Cued Relaxation Technique.
The NHS has produced a really useful booklet on anxiety disorders which you can access here.
Learn more about anxiety and skills to cope with it.
Whatever you need to know about boosting your mood, coping with stress, anxiety or depression or simply improving your overall emotional wellbeing, the NHS Choices Moodzone is here to help.
You are not alone and talking about how you feel is a positive first step in getting help. So don't let problems get out of hand, phone Breathing Space where experienced advisors will listen and provide information and advice. Helpline - 0800 83 85 87
Provides confidential, non-judgmental emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide. You can phone, email, write a letter or in most cases talk to someone face to face.
Saneline is a national mental health helpline providing information and support to people with mental health problems and those who support them.