Recognising anxiety

Lots of us have felt anxious in stressful situations: losing a job; being in a difficult relationship; confronting a difficult colleague. That's a normal reaction, and it usually passes.

Having an anxiety problem, however, is when we inflate or perceive a ‘threat' that isn’t there (or has now passed) and the worry is all-consuming.

Physical symptoms of anxiety include

  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • muscle aches and tension
  • trembling or shaking
  • dry mouth
  • excessive sweating
  • shortness of breath
  • stomach ache
  • feeling sick
  • headache
  • difficulty falling or staying asleep (insomnia)
  • restlessness

Mental symptoms of anxiety include

  • feelings of dread
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability

Types of anxiety

  • Generalised anxiety (GA) – this means having lots of worries about lots of things.
  • Social anxiety - having a fear about looking stupid or foolish in a social situation.
  • Panic - a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers reactions including trembling, rapid breathing and sweating
  • Phobias - a phobia is anxiety triggered by a fear of something specific
  • Post-traumatic stress - reliving a distressing event, experiencing the same anxiety as during the original event
  • Obsessive-compulsive anxiety - anxiety triggered by certain incidents, leading to repetitive behaviours to relieve the anxiety
  • Health anxiety - anxiety symptoms related to fears regarding physical illness

What you can do to manage anxiety

Deep breaths 

Try to slow your breathing down. Breathe through your nose rather than your mouth with your hand placed on your stomach.


Exercising has many benefits. It releases chemicals in the body that are anxiety reducing, acts as a distraction from worries, increases social interaction and improves breathing. These can all have profound effects on your physical and emotional wellbeing.

Limit caffeine and alcohol

These substances can increase the severity of symptoms and panic attacks.

Related treatments and procedures