Anxiety and panic attacks

Anxiety is not an illness that you either have or do not have - anyone can feel anxious

It is perfectly understandable to feel anxious at times. For example, going for a job interview or going to the dentist.  It is also understandable to feel anxious if things have happened to you that have made you fearful or worried.  Anxiety can be a problem when: you have it much of the time; it is becoming unmanageable; and it comes up unexpectedly.

Sometimes anxiety problems are experienced in a specific way and might be described as a particular anxiety condition.

Two of the most commonly labelled anxiety conditions are:

  • Generalised Anxiety
  • Panic attacks

Generalised anxiety

For some people, anxiety problems mean that they feel tense and anxious most of the time. People who experience this type of anxiety find it impossible to relax. They describe experiencing changes:

  • in their body (e.g. heart racing, sweating, tingling or numbness)
  • in their emotions (e.g. feeling frightened or on edge), and
  • in their ability to think clearly (e.g. poor concentration and/or forgetting things)
  • They may also experience panic attacks.

Panic attacks

Panic is a sudden sensation of fear. 

It is very normal to feel panicky in some situations. 

A panic attack is a bit like ‘normal panic’ but the feelings come on suddenly, are not related to frightening situations and can be a lot stronger. People often feel that something terrible is about to happen and have physical sensations, such as breathlessness and their heart racing.