Anxiety and Panic attacks

Welcome to our Anxiety and Panic Attacks self-help page. Here we explain anxiety and panic attacks, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support.

What is Anxiety?

The term anxiety describes feeling of uneasiness, fear and worry and includes both emotional and physical symptoms. Anxiety can be unpleasant to experience, but it is important to remember that it is a normal function of our central nervous system and is activated when we feel threatened.

Most people feel anxious in certain situations, such as when going to an interview, taking exams, undergoing medical treatment or doing something new. During these times, anxiety may cause a disruption to your normal reactions and patterns such as sleeping and eating. Recovery is usually fairly quick once the situation or thoughts which cause fear, worry and uneasiness, pass.

When is Anxiety a problem?

It is sometimes hard to decide when anxiety has become a concern which needs attention, although if you are find the feelings of anxiety overwhelming and intense over a more prolonged period of time, you may benefit from seeking help. For example, if worrying takes up a large amount of your time, if you regularly cannot sleep at night or if you begin experiencing panic attacks.

What is a panic attack?

A panic attack is an overwhelming cascade of emotional and physical symptoms which usually last for up to 20 minutes. Symptoms may include:

  • Experiencing a rapid and pounding heartbeat
  • Feeling faint, dizzy and unreal
  • Tightness in the chest and throat, causing a feeling of suffocation
  • Hotness, flushing, sweating
  • Shaking and trembling
  • A feeling of desperation to escape the current situation you are in