What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a word used to describe feelings of worry and fear. It can include both the emotional and physical feelings we might have when we are worried or nervous about something. Like knots in your tummy, feeling sick, your heart racing, panic attacks feeling out of control or unable to sleep. Although it can feel uncomfortable, anxiety is a biological response to feeling threatened.
Everyone feels anxious sometimes. For example, stressful situations like exams or moving home might make you feel nervous or worried. While the situation is happening you may find it hard to sleep, eat or concentrate. These feelings usually disappear after the situation has stopped.
Because anxiety is common it can be hard to tell if it's becoming a problem. If you feel worried all of the time, the feelings are overwhelming and it's affecting your life and stopping you from getting on with things then you may want to get some support.
If you're worrying about everyday things, things that aren't likely to happen or even worrying about worrying you may have an anxiety disorder. Other signs of an anxiety disorder are regularly experiencing some of the physical and emotional signs of feeling anxious. These include headaches, not sleeping, panic attacks, having a busy mind that can't slow down and feeling on edge or full of dread. Click on the links below to find out more about different anxiety disorders:
Why Does Anxiety Happen?
Anxiety is related to our "fight or flight" response as human beings. When you feel under threat your body physically prepares to either fight the danger or run away. Hormones are released that make you more alert and make your heart beat faster to carry blood around the body to where it's needed most. Then when you feel the danger has passed your muscles relax, which may cause you to shake.
This is something that happens automatically and we have no control over it. In modern society we don’t usually face situations where we need to physically fight or flee from danger, but our biological response to feeling threatened is still the same.
What makes you feel threatened can be different for everyone. It's hard to know for sure why some people have problems with anxiety and others don't. Some reasons include personality, past experiences, diet, physical and mental health, everyday life and habits, drugs or medication or genetics.
Help With Anxiety
A doctor can give you a proper diagnosis of anxiety disorder. You have the right to confidentiality as long as you aren't at risk of harm.
You can also speak to a school nurse who can support you to deal with anxiety. Both of these professionals might suggets that you be referred on to a counselling service or a specialist mental health service.
There are lots of ways of dealing with anxiety. Some people find therapy or counselling useful, where they talk to a trained professional who helps them identify the cause of their anxiety and strategies for coping with it
The most commonly prescribed talking therapy for anxiety is CBT(Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
There are also self-help resources available. These can sometimes be prescribed by NHS or they can be bought or borrowed from a library. In some cases people will be given medication for anxiety.
You can also develop your own coping strategies. These include exercising, writing down your feelings and talking to someone you trust. If you want to help a friend with their anxiety encourage them to speak to a professional. If this isn't going to happen offer them a non-judgemental, listening ear. The link below has lots more information about managing anxiety.
It can be difficult to know when anxiety might happen. If you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed about a situation try talking about it before it takes over. If there's something coming up that you're worried about try and put things in place so that you can cope more easily when it happens. Even simple things, like eating well and getting enough sleep and exercise can help you feel more able to deal with stressful situations.
The Aye Mind website also has resources and tips about mental health, lots of them made by young people.