What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of fear or panic. Feeling generally anxious sometimes is normal. Most people worry about something - money or exams - but once the difficult situation is over, you feel better and calm down.
If the problem has gone but the feeling of fear or panic stays or even gets stronger, that’s when anxiety becomes a problem.
With as many as one in six young people experiencing anxiety at some point, it is very common to have anxiety.
Celebrity vlogger Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, revealed that she often suffers from anxiety but has added that with professional help she’s learned a lot of techniques that make the condition totally manageable.
The symptoms of anxiety
The symptoms of anxiety start out the same as just feeling generally anxious but get worse or last longer than they should. These include:
- Feeling frightened, nervous or panicky all the time
- Getting down or depressed
- Difficulty sleeping
- Low appetite
- Lack of concentration
- Tired and irritable
- Palpitations - when your heart feels like its racing
- Dry mouth
- Feeling faint
- Stomach cramps and/or diarrhoea
Feeling one, some or even most of the above doesn’t necessarily mean you have anxiety. It’s important to talk to your GP to get a full diagnosis.
What to do about anxiety
Take the first step – if you think you are affected by anxiety, talk to your GP or school nurse.
If your health professional thinks you are suffering from anxiety, they will probably suggest a treatment plan for you to follow. They should catch up with you regularly to see how you’re getting on.
There are three main ways of treating anxiety and they can be used on their own or sometimes your doctor will suggest you use more than one at once.
The doctor may prescribe you antidepressants that help you to calm down and think differently about the things worrying you. They usually take two to four weeks to work properly so don’t worry if you’re not feeling better straight away.
Anxiety is often helped with a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, also known as CBT. It’s a talking therapy where you work with a therapist to help you understand your thoughts and feelings and work through ways to change the way they affect you. You’ll also learn techniques to help you relax.
There are also some things you can do to help yourself manage your anxiety. Your health professional will be able to give you ideas of how to do this, show you books or exercises and tell you where to find self-help groups. Your GP will want to know how you’re getting on so they can make sure it’s helping.