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Situational Anxiety

Consultation & treatments

What is Situational Anxiety?

Situational anxiety causes a feeling of fear or apprehension in certain situations, that can range from mild to extremely strong. It’s common to have worries about different things in life such as sitting an exam or having a medical test, but when those worries begin to affect your ability to live a normal life, it could indicate that you are living with situational anxiety, and in some cases treatment may be recommended.

You may find that some everyday situations are triggering for your anxiety, such as walking through a crowded street or getting onto a packed bus. Alternatively, a major life change like moving house or getting married could trigger symptoms.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways to treat situational anxiety. Becoming mindful of your triggers and symptoms is the first step towards managing them so you can live a less stressful life.

What are the symptoms of situational anxiety?

Symptoms of situational anxiety are similar to those of other anxiety disorders. The main difference is that situational anxiety is triggered by a specific event or situation. Symptoms can vary widely from person to person and depend on the severity of the anxiety itself.

Symptoms you may experience include, but aren't limited to: feeling nervous and/or tense, tiredness and exhaustion often combined with difficulties in falling asleep, sweating, nausea, experiencing chest pains, and feeling irritable.

In some cases, people may even experience a panic attack in response to a specific situation. A panic attack is a period of intense anxiety or fear. In order to prevent these symptoms, people may sometimes begin avoiding situations that they know will trigger an anxiety response.

What is the difference between situational anxiety and generalised anxiety?

It is important to identify the differences between situational anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Where GAD involves an often constant state of generalised worry, situational anxiety occurs in response to a specific situation.

If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety on a more regular or frequent basis, or your symptoms are impacting your life (e.g. you are experiencing low mood, difficulty sleeping, changes to your appetite for example), you should speak with further with your own GP as there may be more treatments that are suitable for you.

Please note, the Pharmacy2U online doctor service is only appropriate for people with situational anxiety. We will not prescribe medication specifically indicated for generalised anxiety such as SSRIs, SNRIs or benzodiazepines.

How can situational anxiety be managed?

For many people, it can simply be a case of avoiding the situation that causes anxiety or panic attacks. However, this may not always be possible as the situation that is causing the problem is part of normal life and it cannot be avoided, and so a little help is needed.

In general, there are a number of self-help approaches that can reduce feelings of anxiety. Regular exercise, learning to relax, avoiding caffeine, techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and joining a support group are all approaches that can be effective. It’s also helpful in the long term to stop smoking, and cut down your alcohol consumption - it might feel like these give you short term relief from anxiety, but in the longer term they’re likely to make it worse, and they are detrimental to your general health too.

Situational anxiety can be greatly assisted by the occasional or short-term use of medication that can help control the symptoms that may be experienced.

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