Anxiety is a common and natural processes that happen in the body when we feel we are faced with fearful or threatening situations. It's there for a good reason: to help us manage difficult situations. When we perceive a threat, our brain tells our body to prepare physically so that we can fight our way out of something or flee from a situation. For much of the time, we don’t need to fight and we don’t need to flee, but the way we think about a situation can prepare the body for this, even if we don’t need to. How the body prepares for it can leave us feeling physically different than usual.
In the modern world, ordinarily, we do not need the body to prepare for life threatening situations. However, there are times when we are faced with adversity and need the body to react quickly. Anxiety and panic symptoms can act as a warning that something is not okay.
There are a number of reasons why someone might become anxious or panicked. Sometimes it is the way we feel or think about a situation that brings on the symptoms, not the situation itself. We sometimes see everyday situations as threats whereas, during times when we are more rational in our thinking, we may not find the situation so frightening. The good news is that anxiety and panic is treatable and it is important that you seek help either through online or book-based self-help or with a mental health professional. You do not need to suffer unnecessarily from the symptoms of panic and anxiety and you may be able to learn to manage your symptoms better.
Everyone feels worried sometimes, but if your feelings are interfering with your life and you have persistent worry and panic that stays with you, it could be a sign that your anxiety is managing you, rather than you managing it.
If you are experiencing some of the symptoms listed below much of the day, every day, or on a regular basis, you might want to see your doctor or access other help.
- Heart racing
- Feeling hot
- Over breathing (or panting)
- Noticeably strong, fast or irregular heartbeat
- Muscle aches/tensions
- Dry mouth
- Excessive sweating
- Stomach ache/excess gas/indigestion
- Feeling nauseous
- Pins and needles
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Thinking or feeling that you are “out of control”
- Feeling afraid or fearful or very frightened
- Thinking that the worse thing will happen
- Feeling like you want to eat more after an episode of panic/anxiety, or that you are not hungry when you feel stressed
- Feeling like your mind is busy with thoughts
- Dwelling on negative experiences or thinking over a situation again and again
- Feeling restless and unable to concentrate
- Avoiding places where you feel afraid
- Avoiding going out in case you feel embarrassed at having a panic attack
- Feeling that you need others around you to feel safe
- Feeling that you don’t want others to see you are having a panic attack
There is a variety of information available online about how anxiety and panic and how you can learn to manage it so that it effects your life less. The websites below are some that we would recommend which have lots of information, advice and videos:
Mind - information about anxiety and panic and also self-care tips on how to manage anxiety and panic.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists - more information, videos and recommended support lines.
NHS self-help workbooks are available: http://www.ntw.nhs.uk/pic/selfhelp/
NHS support and information: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/anxiety/Pages/Introduction.aspx
Only a doctor or mental health professional can diagnose Anxiety/Panic, so if you are worried please see your General Practitioner (GP). If you would like support in managing anxiety/panic symptoms, come along to one of our weekday Wellbeing drop-in sessions to get support. No one needs to face a mental health difficulties on their own and there is plenty of help available.
General Practitioner (GP) - contact your GP for an appointment to talk about how you are feeling. The doctor may talk to you about self-management of your symptoms. They may offer you a psycho-education self-help intervention through the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service. Alternatively, they may recommend medication to help reduce the symptoms while you are learning alternative ways to manage your anxiety or panic.
You are also free to self-refer to IAPT if you wish, without having to see your doctor.
Anxiety UK: 03444 775774 - for support, help and information.
Saneline: 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm-10.30pm)
York Nightline: 01904 323735 (8pm-8am) - a listening service for students run by students.
Samaritans: 116 123 - a 24/7 listening service, please remember you don't have to be feeling suicidal to talk to them.