What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a fear or apprehension of something. It can develop from stressful situations, or it can just happen. Biologically the body is reacting to a threat which could be a real threat or a perceived threat. This threat causes the release of hormones that impact the body. The body gets stimulated to act.
But anxiety also has a psychological component. People with anxiety may worry a lot, think that they are ill when they are not or feel so nervous that they can’t do things in life. This fear can keep people in a cycle of avoidance.
What are the signs and symptoms of anxiety?
There are many signs and symptoms of anxiety, but here are the 7 most recognised indicators.
- Nervousness. Your body might be nervous by shaking, but it’s probably your mind that makes you feel like you are on edge with everything.
- Worrying about lots of things. You seem to worry about the little things. Often you worry that you might forget things. Interestingly you find yourself checking things more. You worry that you are too busy or too tired. The thoughts keep going round and round in your mind. Worrying becomes a habit.
- Not feeling 100% well. Yet you might not be obviously ill. Some people might be struggling to sleep, overeating or not fancying food. You might get more coughs, colds and sore throats. In addition, you might be feeling tired and can’t be bothered to do anything. Also, they could have tense muscles and backache.
- Finding it difficult to relax. Your life is busy, and you feel like you never switch off. Sometimes you struggle to even sit down and watch the TV for long periods because your mind keeps jumping around and reminding you of what you haven’t done or what you need to do. During your thinking times, you tell yourself that you want to exercise, but you can’t be bothered, and there is always a reason why you can’t do it.
- Feeling restless. You can’t seem to sit still. Or at night, you toss and turn in the bed.
- Feeling irritable or annoyed. People irritate you at work, at home and socially. Little things seem to grind on you. Perhaps you hate your boss now. You start to question things. Why did someone say that? How did they do that? Why can’t people do what they are meant to do? You might be having arguments with children or your partner. Relationships aren’t the same.
- Feeling afraid. Scared that you are losing your mind. Petrified that you will say the wrong thing and lose your job, your partner or your control.
When should I get help?
We all get short bouts of anxiety, but only a doctor can give you a clinical diagnosis of anxiety because some of these signs and symptoms may be related to other conditions. For example, if you feel restless in bed, you may have restless leg syndrome.
It’s important to get a checkup because some medical conditions, for example, cardiac or thyroid problems or medications, can make you feel anxious.
So you should visit your doctor if the symptoms are continuing or getting worse over weeks or months. General anxiety disorder is usually diagnosed after 6 months of symptoms.
What treatments help anxiety?
- Self-help techniques. This can include journaling, doing an online CBT course, artwork or listening to music.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This is a form of counselling that helps you learn to change your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Typically 6 – 12 sessions may be needed.
- Relaxation. Many people who are anxious need help to relax. A massage, hypnotherapy and other complementary therapies can help.
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
- Socialise. Talk to trusted family and friends. Take time out for yourself.
- Exercise. Going for a daily walk will help. Walking in nature is particularly good.
- Medication. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants or beta-blockers.
Finally, anxiety can be helped, so don’t let it take over your life. For professional support, contact Linda from Awaken the Change and determine how she can help with hypnosis and counselling.