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You are here:DisordersAnxietyWhat is anxiety?

Most people will feel anxious from time to time particularly when experiencing stressful situations like taking an exam, changing jobs, or waiting for medical results. These sensations are common to all of us.

It’s a natural human reaction to feel anxious when something makes you feel threatened.

But when anxiety starts to impact the way that you live your life it can become a serious health concern.

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I want to get a job and earn my own money, but if I can’t even eat a sandwich in a café how could I ever serve coffees to an endless queue of impatient customers, unable to leave?

Anxiety can be described as feelings of worry, unease or tension usually about events in the future, though it can also be a response to something going on in your life right now.

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I make one passing comment in a conversation and for days I will work myself into a frenzy over it – I shouldn’t have said it, it was taken the wrong way, it’s not what I meant, why did I say it, I’m so stupid. I’m exhausted.

Everyone is different so what causes one person to be anxious may not affect someone else.

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I get frustrated, a lot. Something in my brain tells me that I cannot go to a lecture, which only makes my life harder with missed attendance marks and missing out on important points.

Often due to the nature of anxiety it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what is making you feel anxious.

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When people ask me ‘what makes you anxious? How are you feeling?’ I often find myself responding with ‘I don’t know’. That’s what’s hard to come to terms with about anxiety – I don’t know what it is, what triggers it why I’m feeling the way I do on a daily basis. I just know it’s there.

Fight or flight response

Humans have evolved to protect themselves from danger. So when we feel threatened our bodies automatically release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol to help us deal with what might be happening in our environment. This is called the ‘fight, flight or freeze response’.

Adrenaline and cortisol make us feel more alert and our hearts beat faster so that our bodies can quickly burst into ‘flight’.

Once the threat is over our bodies may shake as other hormones are released that help our muscles relax.

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