Anxiety is feelings of worry, unease and fear. It incorporates both the emotions and the physical sensations that we experience when we are nervous or worried about something. Everyone feels anxious from time to time, but for someone experiencing anxiety, these feelings are persistent and aren’t easily controlled. Anxiety or anxiety disorder is a serious condition that makes it hard to cope with daily life.

​Anxiety is not...

...just feeling stressed or worried. While stress and anxious feelings are a common response to a situation where we feel under pressure, they usually pass once the stressful situation has passed, or ‘stressor’ is removed. Anxiety is when these anxious feelings are ongoing and happen without any particular reason or cause.

How do I recognise it?

  • Physical: panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening of the chest, quick breathing, restlessness, or feeling tense, wound up and edgy
  • Psychological: excessive fear, worry, catastrophizing, or obsessive thinking
  • Behavioural: avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious which can impact on work or social life

What can I do?

Talk to them. People worry about saying the wrong thing but it’s better to talk to the person than to avoid it. It’s better to say the wrong thing than nothing at all!

Regular check ins with you and the individual.

Encourage strong peer and social support.

Peer support - get them to buddy-up with a colleague who’s experienced the same thing or is understanding and supportive.

Signpost them to appropriate help such as occupational health.

Myth buster

If you suffer with anxiety it is important to avoid stress and situations that make you feel stressed.” Treating yourself as if you are fragile and avoiding situations can leave you feeling demoralised. Avoiding anxiety can reinforce it.

Some people are just ‘worriers’ or neurotic and there is nothing that can make a difference.” Therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help reduce worry, regardless of someone’s temperament or how long they have had neurotic habits.

If you exercise, eat right and avoid caffeine your anxiety will go away.” While anxiety may be reduced by living a healthy lifestyle the anxiety disorder won’t be cured. Psychological therapy, particularly CBT, has been shown to be effective at treating anxiety. Some people find medication helpful, especially when it is combined with therapy.

Further information?

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