Anxiety is a normal human feeling which we all experience when faced with situations we find threatening or difficult. But for some people anxiety can be a much more frightening experience. People with severe anxiety can experience panic, restlessness, breathlessness, or sweating. They may worry excessively or feel unable to control upsetting thoughts. They may be unable to leave their home or keep a job. 

Anxiety or phobias can take the following forms: 

  • Anxiety disorder: some people have feelings of fear and dread which are too strong, go on for too long, or are experienced in the absence of any apparent threat.
  • Panic: sudden unexpected surges of anxiety which usually lead to the person having to quickly get out of whatever situation they are in.
  • Phobia: some people have very strong anxiety when faced by a particular situation (e.g. meeting new people) or objects (e.g. spiders) which are not dangerous and which most people do not find troublesome.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): extreme anxiety which ends up dominating the person’s life through obsessions, unreasonable fears/thoughts and compulsions (rituals carried out in response to the obsession).
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): occurs to people who have been exposed to life-threatening situations such as car and train crashes, fires, or violent attacks. They can feel nervous and anxious for months and years after the event.

There are a number of things that people can do that may help to reduce their anxiety. These include learning about their anxiety; positive thinking; structuring the day; relaxation; exercise; healthy diet; and talking to friends and family.