Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried.
It’s normal to feel anxious in reaction to a situation where you feel under pressure – for example: meeting work deadlines, sitting exams, or speaking in front of a group of people. However, for some people, anxious feelings happen for no apparent reason, or continue after the stressful event has passed.
When you are experiencing anxiety, anxious feelings cannot be brought under control easily. Anxiety can be a serious condition that makes it hard to cope with daily life.
Anxiety is common, but the sooner you get help, the sooner you can learn to control the condition. That way, it doesn’t control you.
If you are concerned that you (or someone you know) is experiencing anxiety, please consult your doctor or other health professional.
How do you know if someone has Anxiety?
The symptoms of anxiety are not always obvious, as they often develop gradually and, given that we all experience some anxiety, it can be hard to know how much is too much.
Common symptoms of anxiety
- withdrawing from, avoiding, or enduring with fear objects or situations which cause anxiety
- urges to perform certain rituals in a bid to relieve anxiety
- not being assertive (i.e. avoiding eye contact)
- diffculty making decisions
- being startled easily
- increased heart rate/racing heart
- shortness of breath
- vomiting, nausea, or pain in the stomach
- muscle tension and pain (e.g. sore back or jaw)
- feeling detached from your physical self or surroundings
- having trouble sleeping (e.g. difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless sleep)
- sweating, shaking, hot or cold flushes
- dizzy, lightheaded or faint, numbness or tingling
- difficulty concentrating
- “I’m going crazy.”
- “I can’t control myself.”
- “I’m about to die.”
- “People are judging me.”
- having upsetting dreams or flashbacks of a traumatic event
- finding it hard to stop worrying
- unwanted or intrusive thoughts
- fear (particularly when having to face certain objects, situations or events)
- worried about physical symptoms (e.g. fearing there is an undiagnosed medical problem)
- dread (e.g. thinking that something bad is going to happen)
- constantly tense, nervous, or on edge
- uncontrollable or overwhelming panic
f you are familiar with any of these symptoms, please understand that they are not designed to provide a diagnosis – for that you need to see a doctor. Nevertheless, they can be used as a guide.
Types of Anxiety
There are different types of anxiety. The six most common are:
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
A person feels anxious on most days, worrying about lots of different things, for a period of six months or more.
A person has an intense fear of being criticised, embarrassed or humiliated, even in everyday situations, such as speaking publicly, eating in public, being assertive at work or making small talk.
A person feels very fearful about a particular object or situation and may go to great lengths to avoid it: for example, having an injection or travelling on a plane.There are many different types of phobias.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
A person has ongoing unwanted/intrusive thoughts and fears that cause anxiety. Although the person may acknowledge these thoughts as silly, they often try to relieve their anxiety by carrying out certain behaviours or rituals. For example, a fear of germs and contamination can lead to constant washing of hands and clothes.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
This can happen any time from one month after a person experiences a traumatic event (e.g. war, assault, accident, disaster). Symptoms can include difficulty relaxing, upsetting dreams or flashbacks of the event, and avoidance of anything related to the event.
A person has panic attacks, which are intense, overwhelming and often uncontrollable feelings of anxiety combined with a range of physical symptoms. A person having a panic attack may experience shortness of breath, increased heart rate, dizziness, and excessive perspiration. Sometimes, people experiencing a panic attack think they are having a heart attack or are about to die.
What is Depression?
While everyone feels sad, moody or low from time to time, if you experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time (weeks, months or even years), and sometimes without any apparent reason, then you may suffer from depression.
Depression is more than just a low mood – it’s a serious condition that has an impact on both your physical and mental health.
Depression affects how you feel about yourself. You may lose interest in work, hobbies and doing things you normally enjoy. You may lack energy, have difficulty sleeping, or sleep more than usual. Some people feel anxious or irritable, and find it hard to concentrate. Thankfully, however, just like a physical illness, depression is treatable, and effective treatments are available.
How do you know if someone has Depression?
You may be depressed if you have felt sad, down or miserable most of the time for more than two weeks and/or have lost interest or pleasure in usual activities, and have also experienced several of the signs and symptoms across at least three of the categories listed below.
It’s important to note that everyone experiences some of these symptoms from time to time and it may not necessarily mean you are depressed. Equally, not every person who is experiencing depression will have all of these symptoms.
These symptoms will not provide a diagnosis – for that you need to see a health professional – but they can be used as a guide.
If you are concerned that you or someone you know is experiencing depression, please consult your doctor or another health professional.
Common symptoms of Depression
- not going out anymore
- not getting things done at work/school
- withdrawing from close family and friends
- relying on alcohol and sedatives
- not doing usual enjoyable activities
- unable to concentrate
- lacking in confidence
- “I’m a failure.”
- “It’s my fault.”
- “Nothing good ever happens to me.”
- “I’m worthless.”
- “Life’s not worth living.”
- “People would be better off without me.”
- tired all the time
- sick and run down
- headaches and muscle pains
- churning gut
- sleep problems
- loss or change of appetite
- significant weight loss or gain
What Treatments are Available?
There is no one proven way that people recover from anxiety or depression. However, there are a range of effective treatments and health professionals who can help people on the road to recovery.
There are also many things that people with anxiety and depression can do to help themselves to recover and stay well.
If you would like to learn more about depression or anxiety, speak to your doctor, or come and visit us and grab some great resources from our free information stand. We also provide private counselling for new medication, and advice on depression.