Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.
Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life – for example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam,or having a medical test or job interview. During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal. It’s a normal part of life to experience occasional anxiety.
However, some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives. They may experience anxiety that is persistent, seemingly uncontrollable, and overwhelming. If it’s an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it can be disabling. When anxiety interferes with daily activities, you may have an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders are real, serious medical conditions – just as real and serious as physical disorders such as heart disease or diabetes. Anxiety disorders are the most common and pervasive mental disorders in the UK.
The term “anxiety disorder" refers to specific psychiatric disorders that involve extreme fear or worry, and includes generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder and panic attacks, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, selective mutism, separation anxiety, and specific phobias.
Anxiety can be experienced in lots of different ways. If your experiences meet certain criteria your doctor might diagnose you with a specific anxiety disorder.
Some commonly diagnosed anxiety disorders are:
- Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) – this means having regular or uncontrollable worries about many different things in your everyday life. Because there are lots of possible symptoms of anxiety this can be quite a broad diagnosis, meaning that the problems you experience with GAD might be quite different from another person’s experiences.
- Social anxiety disorder – this diagnosis means you experience extreme fear or anxiety triggered by social situations (such as parties, workplaces, or any situation in which you have to talk to another person). It is also known as social phobia.
- Panic disorder – this means having regular or frequent panic attacks without a clear cause or trigger. Experiencing panic disorder can mean that you feel constantly afraid of having another panic attack, to the point that this fear itself can trigger your panic attacks.
- Phobias – a phobia is an extreme fear or anxiety triggered by a particular situation (such as social situations) or a particular object (such as spiders).
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – this is a diagnosis you may be given if you develop anxiety problems after going through something you found traumatic. PTSD can cause flashbacks or nightmares which can feel like you’re re-living all the fear and anxiety you experienced during the actual event.
When is anxiety a mental health problem?
Anxiety can become a mental health problem if it impacts on your ability to live your life as fully as you want to. For example, it may be a problem for you if:
- your feelings of anxiety are very strong or last for a long time
- your fears or worries are out of proportion to the situation
- you avoid situations that might cause you to feel anxious
- your worries feel very distressing or are hard to control
- you regularly experience symptoms of anxiety, which could include panic attacks
you find it hard to go about your everyday life or do things you enjoy.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Fears and Phobias
A phobia is an intense, irrational fear. A phobia is an exaggerated and irrational fear. Phobias can be a source of genuine and ongoing distress for an individual. However, they are treatable in most cases, and very often the source of fear is avoidable.
The term ‘phobia’ is often used to refer to a fear of one particular trigger. However, there are three types of phobia recognized by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). These include:
Specific phobia: This is an intense, irrational fear of a specific trigger.
Social phobia, or social anxiety: This is a profound fear of public humiliation and being singled out or judged by others in a social situation. The idea of large social gatherings is terrifying for someone with social anxiety. It is not the same as shyness.
Agoraphobia: This is a fear of situations from which it would be difficult to escape if a person were to experience extreme panic, such being in a lift or being outside of the home. It is commonly misunderstood as a fear of open spaces but could also apply to being confined in a small space, such as an elevator, or being on public transport. People with agoraphobia have an increased risk of panic disorder.
Specific phobias are known as simple phobias as they can be linked to an identifiable cause that may not frequently occur in the everyday life of an individual, such as snakes. These are therefore not likely to affect day-to-day living in a significant way.
Social anxiety and agoraphobia are known as complex phobias, as their triggers are less easily recognised. People with complex phobias can also find it harder to avoid triggers, such as leaving the house or being in a large crowd.
A phobia becomes diagnosable when a person begins organising their lives around avoiding the cause of their fear. It is more severe than a normal fear reaction. People with a phobia have an overpowering need to avoid anything that triggers their anxiety.
A person with a phobia will experience the following symptoms. They are common across the majority of phobias:
- a sensation of uncontrollable anxiety when exposed to the source of fear
- a feeling that the source of that fear must be avoided at all costs
- not being able to function properly when exposed to the trigger
- acknowledgment that the fear is irrational, unreasonable, and exaggerated, combined with an inability to control the feelings
A person is likely to experience feelings of panic and intense anxiety when exposed to the object of their phobia. The physical effects of these sensations can include:
- abnormal breathing
- accelerated heartbeat
- chest pains or tightness
- butterflies in the stomach
- confusion and disorientation
A feeling of anxiety can be produced simply by thinking about the object of the phobia.
The most common specific phobias include:
- Claustrophobia: Fear of being in constricted, confined spaces
- Aerophobia: Fear of flying
- Arachnophobia: Fear of spiders
- Driving phobia: Fear of driving a car
- Aquaphobia: Fear of water
- Acrophobia: Fear of heights
- Escalaphobia: Fear of escalators
- Tunnel phobia: Fear of tunnels
Addiction is a condition of being abnormally dependent on some habit, behaviour or repeated involvement with a substance or activity, despite the substantial harm it now causes, because that involvement was (and may continue to be) pleasurable and/or valuable.
People with an addiction do not have control over what they are doing, taking or using. Their addiction may reach a point at which it is harmful.
If you have an addiction, you’re not alone. According to the charity Action on Addiction, 1 in 3 people are addicted to something.
Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you.
Addiction is most commonly associated with gambling, drugs, alcohol and nicotine, but it’s possible to be addicted to just about anything, including:
- work – some people are obsessed with their work to the extent that they become physically exhausted; if your relationship, family and social life are affected and you never take holidays, you may be addicted to work
- internet – as computer and mobile phone use has increased, so too have computer and internet addictions; people may spend hours each day and night surfing the internet or gaming while neglecting other aspects of their lives
- solvents – volatile substance abuse is when you inhale substances such as glue, aerosols, petrol or lighter fuel to give you a feeling of intoxication
- shopping – shopping becomes an addiction when you buy things you don’t need or want to achieve a buzz; this is quickly followed by feelings of guilt, shame or despair
What causes addictions?
There are lots of reasons why addictions begin. In the case of drugs, alcohol and nicotine, these substances affect the way you feel, both physically and mentally. These feelings can be enjoyable and create a powerful urge to use the substances again.
Gambling may result in a similar mental “high" after a win, followed by a strong urge to try again and recreate that feeling. This can develop into a habit that becomes very hard to stop.
Being addicted to something means that not having it causes withdrawal symptoms, or a “come down". Because this can be unpleasant, it’s easier to carry on having or doing what you crave, and so the cycle continues.
Often, an addiction gets out of control because you need more and more to satisfy a craving and achieve the “high".
How addictions can affect you
The strain of managing an addiction can seriously damage your work life and relationships. In the case of substance misuse (for example, drugs and alcohol), an addiction can have serious psychological and physical effects.
Some studies suggest addiction is genetic, but environmental factors, such as being around other people with addictions, are also thought to increase the risk.
An addiction can be a way of blocking out difficult issues or self-medicating. Unemployment and poverty can trigger addiction, along with stress and emotional or professional pressure.
Addiction relapse prevention environments.
- Convenience Store
- Home Alone
- Liquor Store
- Autogenic Training
- Deep Breathing Relaxation
- Imagery-Guided Relaxation
- Fear of Bridges
- Fear of Flying
- Fear of Public Speaking
- Fear of Storms
- Fear Heights
- Fear of Spiders