“People find it hard to recognise that anxiety is a serious condition, yet it feels quite crippling inside. It needs treatment like any other condition.”
Feeling anxious and fearful is part of being human. These feelings help you be alert for and escape from threats, and help you make better decisions. If you have an anxiety disorder, you may feel anxious or fearful in situations where there are no threats.
Anxiety can cause you to experience a range of symptoms like shaking and trembling, sweating, nausea, and rapid heartbeat. You may also get pains in your stomach and tension in your neck and shoulders. It can cause sleep problems and make you irritable as well. If your anxiety builds, you may have a very real sense that something bad is going to happen to you. You may even feel like you are losing control and experience physical symptoms similar to a heart attack.
Anxiety and fear can be very intense feelings, and you may tend to avoid situations where you believe they may occur – like social gatherings or particular places. This can lead you to limit your interactions with the wider world, and can greatly impact the way you live your life.
Learning relaxation techniques like controlled breathing can help you reduce the symptoms of anxiety when they first occur. Finding out more about anxiety and things you can do to control it is a positive step towards recovery. We have some resources below to help you get started.
Taking action for change
It’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle
Doing what you can to keep healthy is important. Taking time out to relax, exercising, and improving the quality of your sleep are all important factors in dealing with anxiety. Other positive lifestyle choices that can help you include eating well, limiting your alcohol and caffeine intake, and keeping socially active. Find out more about maintaining a healthy lifestyle on our meaningful life pages. (Source)
Learn controlled breathing
Controlled breathing is a way of slowing down your brain and body when it feels like anxiety is building inside you. Controlled breathing is a skill that takes practice, but research has shown it can be an effective way of controlling your symptoms of anxiety. There are apps and programs that can show you how to do this. We have resources at the bottom of this page. (Source)
Keep a diary or use an app
Tracking your thoughts and moods can help you find out what things seem to trigger your anxiety. This knowledge can help you develop strategies for dealing with the anxiety-inducing things in your life. You can do this by keeping a thought diary, or by using a specialised app that can help you monitor your mood. (Source 1) (Source 2)
Engage in activities that require focus
Research over the last decade has shown that physical activities that require focus, like yoga and high-energy exercise, can be effective in managing anxiety. A possible reason is that these kinds of activities keep you focused on the present rather than worrying about the past or the future. Read more on purposeful activities here. (Source)
Psychological treatments can be effective
There are a number of psychological treatments that can be useful in helping you change your thinking patterns and develop coping skills. More and more people are experiencing positive outcomes after using online psychological treatments in managing their symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety. However, everyone responds differently to different therapies; it’s important to find the treatment that’s right for you. Take a look at the digital resources below for ideas. (Source)
Helping someone with an anxiety disorder
A person with anxiety might tend to avoid particular places or situations and may withdraw socially for fear of an attack. This might make you feel frustrated and put additional strain on your relationship. Try not to take it personally when they refuse to do things they are afraid of, and consider relationship counselling to help develop mutual understandings.
Support them in getting out and about, and facilitate social interactions. It can also be useful to learn how to help someone through a panic attack. By showing patience, encouragement, and support, you can play a vital role in treatment.
It is important find out what you can about anxiety from the websites recommended below, and to look after yourself as well. Find out more about caring for someone with a mental health condition on the support for carers page.
I served in the police, so I'm the girl you want in a crisis. I can take charge, do what needs to be done. It wasn't until later that I started to have a reaction to traumatic things I'd experienced. I'd keep up an appearance of being tough and positive as a protective mechanism, but if you don't acknowledge your own feelings and suppress them, then eventually you'll be in trouble. It affects your mental health.
When I was young, I was scared of most things. This anxiety really crippled my development and natural happiness, because I thought things weren't going to be any good. It was uncertainty about what was going to happen. Medication and talking to a therapist have made me more settled now, and better able to manage life.
One of the best recommendations I had from my caseworker was that I would benefit from owning a cat. Sure enough, last August I went to the RSPCA and adopted a cat that has been the pride and joy of my life ever since. He's such company and a comfort to have around.
You might find online and phone-based mental health resources helpful. Some suggestions are below. You can find more with our Search tool (opens in a new tab).