- Anxiety involves a frequent unpleasant feeling typically associated with uneasiness, apprehension and worry. It has physical, emotional and behavioural effects.
- Although anxiety can be present for many people in response to stressful events, where it becomes excessive it may indicate the presence of an anxiety disorder, which requires further investigation and treatment.
- Physical effects of anxiety include heart palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath and headaches. The heart rate increases as does blood pressure, and the immune and digestive systems will be compromised.
- Panic attacks may be a symptom of anxiety and can be very distressing. People in the midst of a panic attack may feel they are having a heart attack or are dying. They are intensely frightening, upsetting and deeply uncomfortable, however they are not dangerous.
- Anxiety and anxiety disorders can be debilitating, and they are prone to worsen at times of high stress.
- If you experience anxiety, look at your lifestyle to see if there are things which may aggravate it. Caffeine and alcohol are best limited or avoided as both can increase anxiety rates. Be aware of other stimulants too: for instance, watching suspense thrillers late at night is not the best way to ensure a relaxing nights sleep.
- Try to apply relaxation techniques. Breathing exercises can be helpful and by relaxing both body and mind the cycle of stress and worry can be broken.
- Light physical exercise such as a short stroll can tackle many of the symptoms of anxiety.
- Counselling can help to tackle stress factors which may aggravate the anxiety, such as relationship difficulties or bereavement.
If you are concerned that you may have developed an anxiety disorder, see your GP. Treatment may include psychotherapy, medication and lifestyle changes.
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