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Anxiety / Panic


Anxiety is a normal response to stress which can help you deal with a difficult situation. However, anxiety is a problem if it is experienced to such an extent that it interferes with your normal daily life. People react differently in different situations. 'State' anxiety is where a person becomes anxious as a result of a specific situation. Some people are susceptible to 'state' anxiety.
Anxiety can show in two ways; with psychological symptoms and with physical symptoms:

  • Psychological symptoms include inner feelings of tension and agitation and feeling out of control. Someone with anxiety may believe that disaster is about to strike. They may feel detached from the world.
  • Physical symptoms include palpitations, difficulties in breathing, tightness in the chest, butterflies, sweating and an urge to go to the toilet.

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is where feelings of anxiety are there most of the time for no apparent reason. This often goes hand-in-hand with phobias. It is very common also in depression.
Remember that anxiety is a treatable condition. Treatments differ from person to person. These can include learning techniques to overcome anxiety, developing coping skills, medicines, support groups or helpful literature.


Panic attacks are sudden feelings of intense terror. They may happen each time a person is in a certain situation, or they may happen for no apparent reason. They can make life miserable.
Some of the symptoms people experience during a panic attack include:

  • Shortness of breath;
  • Dizziness;
  • Thumping heartbeat;
  • Sweating;
  • Trembling;
  • Chest pain;
  • Choking sensation;
  • Nausea

During the course of the attack, a person may believe he/she is seriously ill or about to die. An attack may only last a few minutes but may leave a person feeling distressed for some time afterwards. In some people, panic attacks may be linked to other conditions such as depression or fear of open spaces/agoraphobia.

It is important to remember that panic attacks are quite common - around one person in ten will experience them at some point in their lives. More importantly, panic attacks can be effectively treated. Common types of effective treatment include counselling, psychotherapy, cognitive and behavioural therapy and medication.