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Calderglen High School

Anxiety

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear. This feeling can range from being very mild to severe.

However, anxiety is a normal response and reaction to things that happen in our lives. For example, you may feel anxiety before sitting an exam or before completing a solo talk.

Anxiety keeps us safe from danger - it is an evolutionary response. However, anxiety can start to become problematic and severe if we start to feel overwhelming feelings of anxiety about things that generally pose no real threat to us. Anxiety would be considered to be an issue if it starts to impact on our ability to function normally in our day-to-day lives.

Some people can control their worries really well and have no issues with anxiety. However, some people struggle a bit more and might need to use some strategies to help them cope with the anxiety.

What does anxiety feel like?

Psychological symptoms of anxiety can include:

  • a feeling of dread or fearing the worst

  • feeling on edge or panicky

  • difficulty concentrating

  • irritability

  • feeling detached from yourself or the world around you

Physical symptoms of anxiety can include:

  • restlessness

  • feeling dizzy or light-headed

  • wobbly legs or pins and needles in your hands and feet

  • shortness of breath or hyperventilating

  • heart palpitations (a noticeably strong, fast heartbeat)

  • nausea

  • needing the toilet more or less often

  • sweating

  • headache

  • dry mouth

  • sleep problems

  • panic attacks

How can anxiety affect us and our behaviour?

You may withdraw from friends and family, feel unable to go to work or school, or avoid certain places. While avoiding situations can give you short-term relief, the anxiety often returns the next time you’re in the situation. Avoiding it only reinforces the feeling of danger and never gives you a chance to find out whether your fears are true or not.

Some people with anxiety may appear to be fine on the outside while still having some of the symptoms listed above. You may have developed ways of hiding your anxiety so that other people don’t notice it.

Do I have an anxiety disorder?

The answer is probably not. Anxiety is a normal feeling and everyone feels it at some point in their life depending on the situations that they are in. As long as you are able to cope day-to-day and feelings of anxiety are not impacting hugely on your ability to live life normally, you probably don't have a diagnosable mental health problem. Feeling symptoms of anxiety in relation to scary things like exams or new situations is normal and does not require treatment.

However, if feelings of anxiety are causing you to no longer feel like you can cope with daily life and are now stopping you from doing things that you would normally enjoy doing, it may be worthwhile making an appointment with your GP to discuss these symptoms.

While most of us probably do not have a diagnosable anxiety disorder, we can still experience anxiety and sometimes we might find this tough to cope with. We can utilise coping strategies when we feel anxiety in normal situations.

Below is a resource on anxiety from the mental health charity Mind.

You can make these larger by clicking either on the document itself or on the arrow in the top right corner.