ANXIETY disorders are very common – with celebrities including Zayn Malik, Olly Murs and Selena Gomez all sharing their experiences of the condition.
But what are the symptoms, and what should you do if you think you have anxiety? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal feeling, also known as the “fight or flight” response.
When presented with stress or danger, the body pumps adrenalin through to body – allowing it to cope with the situation at hand.
However, anxiety can become a problem when this response occurs unnecessarily – either because the danger is not that severe, or there isn’t actually any danger at all.
Anxiety disorders can develop as a result of a number of factors, including stress, genetics and childhood environment.
There are also a number of different types of anxiety disorder, from generalised anxiety to specific phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder and panic disorders.
Some people may suffer from more than one type of anxiety disorder – for example, people with a specific phobia might experience panic as a result.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
The symptoms of anxiety can be divided into physical and psychological symptoms.
The condition can present itself in a variety of ways, and sufferers might not experience all of them.
Anxiety UK advises that the physical symptoms of anxiety are:
- Racing heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Dry mouth
- Butterflies in stomach
- Urge to pass urine/empty bowels
- Pins and needles
Meanwhile, the psychological symptoms include:
- Inner tension
- Fear of losing control
- Dread that something catastrophic is going to happen (such as blackout, seizure, heart attack or death)
- Feelings of detachment
As well as these signs, the symptoms of panic attacks can feel similar to a heart attack – as they often involve rapid breathing, chest pains and pins and needles.
How is anxiety treated?
If you think you may be suffering from anxiety, your GP should be your first port of call.
Doctors usually advise treating anxiety with psychological treatments before prescribing medicine.
Self-help techniques, lifestyle changes such as exercise and avoiding caffeine, and cognitive behavioural therapy can all help.
However, in cases where medication is deemed necessary, your doctor may offer you types of antidepressant medication to ease your symptoms.
If they aren’t suitable, your GP may offer pregabalin instead – which is usually used to treat epilepsy, but can be helpful for anxiety too.
Meanwhile, for short term relief of anxiety, benzodiazepines such as diazepam can be offered – but are not prescribed for long periods due to the risk of addiction.