Anxiety and Panic Attacks

It is natural to feel tension, nervousness and even fear before a stressful event or before making an important decision, especially if this decision will have a major impact on life. It can be the case of an exam, a medical intervention, parting with parents or the decision to get married or to have children.

In such cases, worries may arise on how to manage certain situations or the direction in which life is heading. These worries can lead to sleep difficulties, lack of concentration or loss of appetite. Overcoming the stressful situations will lead to these worries to dissipate and regain overall wellbeing.

Feeling anxious is the natural body’s response to perceived threat.

But some people find it difficult to manage their worries, and when facing challenges, negative emotions and fear become overwhelming. People can worry about many problems and experience anxiety in different manners:

  • worrying all the time about usual things in life
  • worrying about things that are unlikely to happen
  • worrying that things will never get better
  • living regularly unpleasant effects of anxiety (physical or psychological)
  • experiencing panic attack episodes

About anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the overlapping of symptoms governed by excessive fear, restlessness and, most often, neurovegetative symptoms. A person undergoing a long period of anxiety may experience additional effects such as:

  • depression
  • decreased immunity
  • excessive consumption of alcohol, tobacco or other substances
  • difficulty in bonding or maintaining relationships
  • problems at work
  • inability to enjoy life

Anxiety sufferers are often afraid of large spaces, going out in public, of making mistakes, getting sick, germs, losing control; they have panic attacks or catastrophically interpret normal sensations of body function such as heartbeat or abdominal sensations. They try to limit any incentive or opportunity that could trigger unpleasant symptoms.

Sometimes the symptoms are so intense that in order to cope with the situation they limit their interaction with other people thus affecting their personal and social life, sometimes even end up not leaving the house, no longer enjoy most things and have difficulties sleeping due to night-time anxiety.

Anxiety disorder can come in various forms, such as:

  • panic attacks
  • specific phobias (aircraft, beetles)
  • social anxiety disorder
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • generalized anxiety disorder
  • separation anxiety

Differences between fear and anxiety

Fear is the emotional response to an imminent threat, real or imagined, while anxiety is the anticipation of a future threat. These two emotions overlap but at the same time are different. Fear is most often associated with episodes of vegetative arousal that prepare the body for the “fight or flight” reaction – a necessary reaction in case of real danger, while anxiety is associated with muscle tension and alertness in preparing for future danger.

Signs and symptoms of anxiety

Somatic symptoms:

  • tremors, muscle twitching
  • low back pain, headache
  • muscle tension
  • hyperventilation
  • fatigue
  • tachycardia, palpitations
  • sweating
  • cold hands
  • irritability
  • diarrhoea
  • paresthesias, numbness

Psychological symptoms:

  • feeling fear
  • difficulty concentrating
  • hypervigilance
  • insomnia
  • lack of libido
  • restlessness

If these things seem familiar to you and you are worried that you or someone you love might have symptoms of anxiety disorder, on our web guide you can get in touch with someone who can help you. We provide professional treatment for many parts of the UK, including London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, and Scotland.

Anxiety risk factors

There are multiple factors that may lead to anxiety which can come from different areas or life periods:

  • past experiences or even childhood traumas – “Family heritage” – if the family tended to view the world as hostile or dangerous, one may have grown accustomed to see the world as hostile and dangerous in adulthood.
  • lifestyle and habits can affect how a person feels. Stress, excessive time spent at work, the pressure at work, home or school, financial problems, all these can contribute to anxiety
  • daily diet can also affect a person’s mood; some foods can play or trigger anxiety symptoms.
  • everyday life events

When does anxiety become a problem?

Anxiety becomes a problem when the costs far outweigh the benefits. For example, people who suffer from anxiety often report that:

  • they cannot relax
  • always feel tense or have muscle aches
  • do not sleep well
  • have frequent migraines
  • feel restless most of the time
  • can no longer enjoy life

In such cases, people affected by anxiety often feel exhausted, have poor performance at work or they feel dissatisfied with their lives.

For example, social anxiety becomes a problem when interaction with others is avoided due to fear of making a bad impression, such as outings with colleagues or talking to a superior, this way risking to lose important social or career opportunities or being penalized for absenteeism.

Where can I get anxiety treatment?

Guide to Rehab connects you with relevant therapists in the UK, offering many benefits to patients that are struggling with anxiety and panic attacks. Patients have access to the assessment and diagnosis of anxiety problems, the complex assessment of personality and the impact of anxiety on cognitive functioning along with psychotherapy for anxiety and associated problems.

Studies in both adolescents (Kathleen Merikangas’ study in JAACAP in 2010) and adults (Ronald Kessler’s study in JAMA in 2005) show that the prevalence of lifelong anxiety disorders is approximately 30%. Without proper treatment, anxiety disorder can become chronic, thus medical complications may develop with lasting health issues such as: the increased risk of somatic diseases and high comorbidity with other mental health problems (eg. depression, alcohol or other substance abuse).

Anxiety treatment aims to correct the factors that cause the symptoms or that favour long term chronic anxiety. Psychotherapy teaches patients how to control their anxiety through effective relaxation strategies, how to observe thoughts and behaviours that only fuel long-term anxiety, and how to replace these ineffective thoughts and behaviours with new thought patterns.