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Anxiety can show itself physically and emotionally.

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For me, anxiety has been like a helmet you had to wear to ride your bike as a kid. It’s hard on the outside but cushioned on the inside, you never really liked to wear it but it protected you from harm.

Although there are many ways that anxiety manifests, here are some of the common symptoms:

Physical signs:

  • Nausea or a churning stomach
  • Rapid heart rate or noticing your heart beat more
  • Dizziness or feeling light headed
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Grinding teeth (during the day or at night)
  • Headaches, back ache or other pain in the body
  • Faster breathing or feelings of breathlessness
  • Feeling restless
  • Experiencing panic attacks

Mental signs:

  • Feeling nervous, unable to relax or worried about the future
  • Struggling to focus on tasks
  • Feeling unmotivated
  • Having a feeling of dread or unease
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling that other people are noticing you’re anxious
  • Thinking about a lot of past bad experiences
  • Feeling disconnected or unable to relate to anyone or anything

When you have anxiety you might also find that you struggle with the day-to-day things like:

  • Self-care
  • Going to work
  • Keeping relationships
  • Trying something new
  • Enjoying yourself
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I am unable to get a job. I struggle to travel to see my boyfriend and friend. I refuse to eat out of the house. Anxiety is slowly eating away at the person I was, and I’m not sure I want to be the person I am becoming.

Anxiety disorders

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is the name for the ‘long-term condition that causes feelings of worry and distress about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event’. 

It’s estimated that around 5% of people in the UK are affected by GAD, making it extremely common. Women are also twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders than men.

While it’s not fully understood what causes longer term anxiety (GAD), we know that the following may be triggers:

  • Genetics - you’re five times more likely to develop GAD if you have a close relative with the condition
  • An imbalance in the mood-regulating brain chemicals serotonin and noradrenaline
  • A history of abuse or traumatic experiences in your past
  • Suffering from a long term painful health condition
  • Difficult life conditions - for example struggling with finances, employment, working long hours, losing someone close to you, feeling lonely or isolated
  • Experiencing other mental health problems such as depression
  • Current or past dependency on alcohol or drugs

Other anxiety disorders include:

  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder Phobias
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Health anxiety
  • Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)
  • Perinatal anxiety or perinatal OCD

What is panic disorder?

What is obsessive compulsive disorder?

What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

What is social phobia and agoraphobia?