This page was clinically reviewed by Dr Oluwagbenga Odeyemi (MBBS, MPH, MRCPsych) in August 2021.
Everyone feels anxious from time-to-time. Typically, it happens when we experience stress and tends to gradually subside after the high-pressure moments have passed.
However, when anxiety or panic becomes intense and persistent, it can have a huge impact on our mental health and wellbeing. If you feel that you are suffering from the mental health condition, it is important to know that there is support and treatment available to prevent it from further affecting your life.
At Priory, we understand that anxiety can be very difficult to cope with and can often make even the smallest of tasks seem impossible, which can sometimes prevent people from seeking the expert anxiety treatment and support that they need.
Anxiety symptoms can vary from person to person, and depending on the type of anxiety that you are suffering from.
What are the different types of anxiety?
Anxiety is a broad term that includes a range of underlying disorders, each with its own unique characteristics and symptoms. These include:
- Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Panic disorder, including panic attacks and anxiety attacks
- Social anxiety disorder
- Separation anxiety
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Adjustment disorder
Find out more about the different types of anxiety.
What are the signs & symptoms of anxiety?
The symptoms associated with anxiety can be categorised into psychological, physical and behavioural/social symptoms of anxiety, with some of the most common including:
Psychological symptoms of anxiety:
Common anxiety symptoms can include:
- A persistent sense of worry, apprehension, or dread – you may find that you are constantly worrying about something negative happening which can prevent you from enjoying your everyday life
- Feelings of hopelessness – feeling trapped and unable to find a ‘way out’
- Anger, irritability and impatience – finding that you are becoming angry for no apparent reason and taking this out on those who are closest to you
- Feeling fearful, paranoid and tense
- Mood swings
- Extreme stress
- Drugs and alcohol abuse as a way of self-medicating to help you to manage and cope with your anxiety symptoms. Substance abuse may lead to a harmful addiction which can hinder your recovery and lead to further problems
- Feeling tearful and emotionally tired – finding that you are crying more than usual and become emotional for no apparent reason
- Difficulty concentrating
- Low self-esteem
- Having fears or worries that seem to be disproportionate to the situation
- Feeling as though you can’t stop worrying
- Worrying that you are ‘going crazy’
Physical symptoms of anxiety:
Physical anxiety symptoms can often include:
- Feeling faint, dizzy or light-headed
- Shortness of breath
- Increased heartbeat or palpitations
- Tightness of the chest
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Trembling or shaking
- Abdominal discomfort
- Loose bowels and frequent urination
- Muscle tension and tiredness
- Hot or cold flushes
- Panic attacks (also known as anxiety attacks) – these occur as a form of release or physical reaction to anxiety, and can be extremely frightening
- Appetite changes – either increased or reduced appetite which may also result in weight fluctuations
- Sleep disturbances – experiencing reduced sleep because you are unable to ‘switch off’ from your anxiety, or finding that you are sleeping long hours and struggle to get out of bed
Behavioural/social symptoms of anxiety:
- Social withdrawal and isolation – not wanting to meet with family and friends, in order to avoid stressful situations that may exacerbate your anxiety, or answer questions about your anxiety and worry
- Reduced school or work performance as a result of decreased concentration and taking time off sick
- Inability to manage day-to-day tasks effectively
What causes anxiety
If you struggle with anxiety, you’ll probably want to understand the root cause of why you feel the way you do. Research shows there are some factors that can increase the chances of you developing anxiety. Watch the video below to find out more about what causes anxiety.
Help and Support for Anxiety
There are a number of ways you can work to combat anxiety during your day-to-day life. These include:
- Avoid rushing and having an overwhelmingly full schedule
- Try to stop yourself from being competitive and setting unrealistic goals for yourself
- Give yourself time for relaxation and enjoying your hobbies or interests
- Establish a good sleep routine
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid smoking
- Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake
- Avoid cannabis and other illegal drugs
- Create a list of all your worries and problems, then tackle the items one by one rather than allowing yourself to be overwhelmed
We provide therapy for anxiety, which you can easily fit in around your life. We also offer daycare or inpatient care if your symptoms are deemed more severe. The treatment you receive will be personalised and based around your circumstances.
We provide a range of treatments including:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – this helps you to identify the patterns of thought that have become distorted, helping you to challenge your way of thinking so that you can discover new and healthier ways of viewing situations
- Exposure – for someone with phobias, behavioural treatments like exposure will help to reintroduce you to the object you are afraid of, in carefully controlled stages
- Medication – when an anxiety disorder is severe and impacts heavily on daily life, prescribed medication can be used alongside therapy
It is important that you speak to your GP if anxiety is affecting your day-to-day life or causing you distress. They will be able to offer you counselling or refer you to a specialist for treatment to ease your anxiety symptoms.