Anxiety is common – every one of us has felt anxious at some point in our lives, but for some people anxiety can be difficult to control and can really stop them getting on with their daily lives. The feelings of fear and worry can build to a point where psychological symptoms contribute to physical ones – dizziness, heart palpitations, trembling or shaking, dry mouth, sweating, headaches and more. Some people experience panic attacks, where there is a rush of intense anxiety that may come out of the blue.
One of the most common problems associated with anxiety is sleeplessness, lying awake at night ruminating on things that happened that day, or worrying about potential problems in the future. Anxiety often isn’t proportional to the size of the actual problem, and sometimes once one anxious thought has been resolved, another one will take its place.
There are a number of effective strategies that can help with anxiety. Talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) encourage patients to experiment with different patterns of thinking, in a structured way. A doctor may be able to make a referral to a local CBT therapist for face to face sessions, or increasingly there are online CBT groups and services which can help too.
Some patients may also be prescribed medication alongside other treatments such as CBT. Antidepressants, usually a type called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can be of great value, but may take a few weeks to start working. The prescribing doctor can discuss the options available if this is decided to be of value.
If you regularly feel anxious, don’t suffer in silence – reach out to your GP for help. The NHS website has further information and resources that you may find helpful: