What is Anxiety
Problems with anxiety are really common and as many as 1 in 6 young people will experience an anxiety problem at some point in their lives.
Anxiety is the feeling of fear or panic. Most people feel anxious, panicky or fearful about situations in life, such as money problems or exams but often once the difficult situation is over, you feel better and calmer. Sometimes the feelings of fear or anxiety continue after the difficult situation or sometimes you may feel a stronger sense of fear than other people and this is when anxiety becomes a problem and can affect you doing every day things.
Symptoms of anxiety include feeling frightened, nervous or panicky all the time. You may also feel down or depressed and have difficulties sleeping and eating, be unable to concentrate on things and feel tired and irritable. Physically you might have palpitations or a racing of your heart, dry mouth, trembling, faintness and you may experience stomach cramps or diarrhoea.
Young people with anxiety usually experience anxiety in three ways:
- generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
- panic attacks
You may have anxiety because of your family history and genes or it could be down to something else like trauma in childhood. Some physical or mental health problems can make you anxious, for example, around half of people with depression have panic attacks at some point. It can be a mixture of things or part of your personality. Some people who are anxious have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder OCD. See our pages on OCD.
GAD – Generalised Anxiety Disorder
GAD affects 1 in 25 people in the UK and young people who have GAD worry a lot of the time and the anxiety makes doing every day things difficult.
These are feelings of extreme anxiety that come on in unpredictable attacks that usually last for about ten minutes. If you have panic attacks, you may have difficulties breathing and feel panicky and tend to feel out of control. The feelings gradually calm down and go away usually in about ten minutes but can leave you feeling quite shaken.
People who have phobias tend to feel very nervous and panicky about one thing in particular. The thing that you might be anxious about may not be dangerous or troublesome to anyone else but can make you feel really nervous or panicky. The types of phobia can vary from agoraphobia – a fear of going outside – or a social phobia and meeting people to emetophobia, a phobia of vomit or vomiting.
Around one in 10 people experience anxiety or phobias at some point in their lives. Many often don’t ask for help but there is treatment available through your GP. See your GP or see our next section for more help.
I’ve been diagnosed with depression and anxiety and I’ve found that people tend to think I'm not ‘normal’ and it's just so annoying. I'm still a normal person, I just find things hard." – Beth