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Anxiety is what we feel when we're worried, tense or fearful – but if this affects your daily life, you may have an anxiety disorder. Discover the causes, symptoms and help available.

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

People can experience both psychological and physical symptoms of anxiety.

Psychological symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Frequent feelings of panic or fear
  • Racing thoughts that you feel you cannot control
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes in appetite

Physical symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Sweating
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Dry mouth
  • Shaking
  • Muscle tension
  • Fast breathing
  • Feeling tired or lacking energy
  • Stomach aches

Anxiety that’s uncontrolled and untreated can often lead to depression.

How to treat anxiety

If your anxiety symptoms are mild, then a self-help course, or mental health app may help you control and improve your symptoms. You can find a wide range of mental health resources to download through the NHS.

Simple lifestyle changes like increasing your exercise levels, increasing the quality of your sleep, and reducing your alcohol/caffeine intake can also help.

Psychological treatments for anxiety, like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) are recommended and can be very effective.

If you have severe symptoms, some medications can also be helpful. These include medications that can reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety, like tremor, or drugs such as antidepressants which can help to improve mood and mental symptoms.

If your anxiety symptoms are interfering with your daily life and activities, or you feel they’re adversely affecting you in any other way, you should certainly speak to a GP for further help.

How can a GP help?

A GP will talk to you about your symptoms, how they affect you, and whether there are any triggers to your anxiety that they can help you to improve.

They will also be able to refer you for treatment with psychological therapies, such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).

If your symptoms are very severe, or you’ve already undertaken psychological therapies, you may wish to discuss the option of medication to help your anxiety.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety can present itself as a feeling of worry, fear, apprehension or unease. It’s completely normal to feel these emotions at times – like when interviewing for a new job or meeting new people.

But if these feelings are severe, unprompted and ongoing, particularly when they disrupt your daily routine or activities or lead to panic attacks, then you may have an anxiety disorder.

Reviewed by:
Dr Rhianna McClymont, Lead GP, Livi