It’s really common to develop anxiety at some point. Find out here what causes it and what you can do to feel better.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal, human feeling of fear or panic. When we face stressful situations, it can set off our brain’s in-built alarm bell system, which tells us something isn’t right and that we need to deal with it. Our brain wants the difficult situation to go away, so it makes us feel more alert, stops us thinking about other things, and even pumps more blood to our legs to help us run away.

Most of us worry sometimes – about things like friendships or money – and feel anxious when we’re under stress, like at exam time. But afterwards we usually calm down and feel better.

But when you’re not in a stressful situation, and you still feel worried or panicky, that’s when anxiety can become a problem.

Celebrity vlogger Zoe Sugg (Zoella) revealed that she often suffers from anxiety, so she’s had some professional help to learn tools and techniques that help her manage it and live a calmer life.

Young people share what it's like to live with anxiety

Just remember that if you're struggling with anxiety or panic attacks, you're not alone.
Kaitlyn, 15

The symptoms of anxiety

You might start out just feeling generally anxious, but if your symptoms get worse or last longer than they should, it could be time to get some support. Symptoms include:

  • feeling nervous, on edge, or panicky all the time
  • feeling overwhelmed or full of dread
  • feeling out of control
  • having trouble sleeping
  • low appetite
  • finding it difficult to concentrate
  • feeling tired and grumpy
  • heart beating really fast or thinking you’re having a heart attack
  • having a dry mouth
  • trembling
  • feeling faint
  • stomach cramps and/or diarrhoea/needing to pee more than usual
  • sweating more than usual
  • wobbly legs
  • getting very hot

If you experience any of these symptoms above, it doesn’t mean you definitely have an anxiety problem. But if any of them are affecting your everyday life, it’s a good idea to tell someone you trust about how you’re feeling.

Remember you are resilient and you will get back up when you fall down.
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What to do about anxiety

Feeling constant anxiety can be a sign that something in your life isn’t right, and you may need some help figuring out what that is.

Talk to your GP
If they think you’re suffering from anxiety, whether mild or severe, they can suggest different types of treatment that might help and can offer regular check-ups to see how you’re doing.

Anxiety is a very isolating experience, but you really are not alone.

Our Activists explain what a self-soothe box is and how it can help when you're feeling anxious

Treating anxiety

There are three main ways of treating anxiety. You might try one, or end up using a combination, depending on what works best for you.

1. Self-help 
There are quite a few things you can do yourself to help manage your anxiety.

You could try mindfulness and meditation - there are helpful apps such as Calm and Headspace which you might find helpful in managing your anxiety.

Your GP can tell you where to find local support groups. You can also look online at Anxiety UK for tools, tips and information on support networks.

See below for more tips from our Activists and bloggers on how to manage anxiety.

Tips from our activists

Our Activists and bloggers share their advice and tips for dealing with anxiety:

Finding a physical way to get your worries out in the open can really help. I’ve found imagining my anxious thoughts physically leaving my brain and floating into the sky really helps.
(If you find seeing family and friends difficult), try to remind yourself that there’s no danger with your family or friends, and that you are safe with them.
Write a letter to yourself explain how you feel and why. Be as open and truthful with yourself as you can be. A few days later, read it back imagining someone else wrote it to think how you would help them.
Sometimes all you need to do is stop and focus on your breathing. I have learned many techniques over my time in counselling, and finding one that works for you is important.
If you look up ‘calming breathing techniques’ you’ll find many of your own. I breathe in for 7 seconds and out for 11 seconds, which helps me to stop and focus.
As stressful and anxiety-inducing as seeking help can be in itself, talking to someone and receiving support is the only way to overcome it.
Doing something you enjoy is a good way of taking your mind off of things. I get anxiety over things that may not even happen, so having things that I enjoy reduces the amount I worry.
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2. Talking therapy
Talking therapy can help you get to the root of what is causing your anxiety. With cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), you work with a therapist who helps you understand your thoughts and feelings, and then helps you explore ways to change how they affect you. You also learn practical techniques to help you relax and cope better in everyday life.

3. Medication
Medication might help you manage some of your symptoms and your doctor might suggest you try taking medication alongside talking therapy.

Where to get help

YoungMinds Crisis Messenger

  • provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK if you are experiencing a mental health crisis - just text YM to 85258
  • all texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors
  • texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus

No Panic

  • No Panic are the people to call if you are suffering from panic attacks, OCD, phobias, and other related anxiety disorders. 
  • helpline: 0844 967 4848 (Daily 10am – 10pm; charges apply)
  • youth helpline for 13 - 20 yr olds: 0330 606 1174 (Mon - Fri 3pm – 6pm; charges apply)
  • having a panic attack? Crisis number with recording of a breathing technique: 01952  680835 (24 hr)
  • email: [email protected] 


The Mix

  • if you're under 25 you can talk to The Mix for free on the phone, by email or on their webchat. You can also use their phone counselling service, or get more information on support services you might need. 
  • freephone: 0808 808 4994 (1pm - 11pm daily)
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