Anxiety: Signs, Symptoms, Quick Tips and Treatment
Anxiety is a natural and usually short-lived reaction to a stressful situation, associated with feelings of worry, nervousness or apprehension.
Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worry, nervousness, apprehension and physical changes in the body.
We all feel anxious from time to time; it’s our body's way of preparing us for a challenging, new or unfamiliar situation. Anxiety is natural and is usually short-lived.
For some people, however, anxiety can be experienced as intense, excessive and over a long period of time. This can often impact someone's life making it difficult to work, study, socialise or engage in life as fully as they would like.
Signs and symptoms of anxiety
Common symptoms of anxiety include:
trembling or shaking
feeling light-headed or faint
numbness or nausea
feeling tense or having aches (especially neck, shoulders and back)
Types of anxiety disorders
While anxiety is usually a normal reaction to a stressful situation, for some people anxious thoughts, feelings, or physical symptoms can become prolonged, severe and upsetting, and may interrupt daily life. Severe, frequent, recurring, and persistent anxiety symptoms may be considered an anxiety disorder.
People can experience different types of anxiety. The most common anxiety disorders are as follows:
Generalised anxiety disorder: excessive worry about anything and everything, including worrying about worrying.
Social anxiety disorder: anxiety in social situations, often rooted in the fear of doing something wrong and being judged by others.
Panic disorder: repeated panic attacks and worry about future panic attacks.
Agoraphobia: anxiety about having a panic attack in certain situations and not being able to escape or get help.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder: anxious thoughts leading to obsessive behaviour and compulsions to do certain things.
Specific phobias: intense fear of objects or situations (e.g. dogs or heights).
Quick tips to help manage anxiety:
Slow breathing. When you’re anxious, often your breathing becomes faster and shallower. Try deliberately slowing down your breathing. Count to three as you breathe in slowly – then count to three as you breathe out slowly.
Progressive muscle relaxation. Find a quiet location. Close your eyes and slowly tense and then relax each of your muscle groups from your toes to your head. Hold the tension for three seconds and then release quickly. This can help reduce the feelings of muscle tension that often come with anxiety.
Healthy lifestyle. Keeping active, eating well, going out into nature, spending time with family and friends, reducing stress and doing the activities you enjoy are all effective in reducing anxiety and improving your well-being.
Challenge your self-talk. How you think affects how you feel. Anxiety can make you overestimate the danger in a situation and underestimate your ability to handle it. Try to think of different interpretations of a situation that’s making you anxious, rather than jumping to the worst-case scenario. Look at the facts for and against your thought being true.
Getting help for anxiety
If you are experiencing frequent, intense or prolonged feelings of anxiety then it’s important to reach out and seek help as soon as possible.
Therapy can help support people with life’s curve balls, the hard times and the tough stuff so you don’t have to go it alone. If you’re feeling like you are stuck in a rut, as though you can’t catch a break or maybe that it’s all a bit too much, then we’re here to listen. Book an appointment or reach out today to find out more about how we can help you get back on track.