Anxiety refers to feelings of worry, fear and tension. Feeling anxious is a normal human emotion which we all experience from time to time; it is normal to feel tense or nervous when you are facing a stressful event such as making a life changing decision, going for a job interview, moving home etc. However sometimes anxiety can become a problem and can affect your ability to carry on with your usual day-to-day life, especially if your feelings of anxiety are very strong, or last for a long time, resulting in you feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope.
If you are experiencing problems managing your anxiety you may find that you cannot stop worrying about a regular aspect of your life (e.g. work) or health, about things that are unlikely to happen, and/or you may also worry about worrying (e.g. that it uncontrollable and/or that it will make bad things happen). In addition to having lots of worrying thoughts about these things, you may experience physical sensations of anxiety including panic attacks which can often lead to avoidance of particular situations.
Types of anxiety disorder
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD): You may be suffering from GAD if you have anxiety about many different situations and anxiety affects you across many different contexts (e.g. when in social situations, at work, at home) rather than having worries about a specific area/issue in your life. If you have GAD it is likely that your anxiety affects your ability to carry out your daily living activities as it may affect your concentration, sleep and appetite.
Panic Disorder: If you have panic disorder you are likely to experience episodes of intense feelings of panic (e.g. feeling like your heart is racing and that you might have a heart attack) and/or also have panic attacks, which may arise in specific situations or without any obvious pattern across different situations. It is very common for people who have experienced panic attacks to become very anxious about having another panic attack, which may lead to you avoid situations in which you anticipate another panic attack is likely to happen.
Health Anxiety: If you have health anxiety you may have medically unexplained symptoms such as chest pain or headaches which you may believe are a sign of serious medical illness (e.g. cancer), despite being reassured by medical examinations that there is nothing wrong. You may be intensely preoccupied with the prospect of having a serious illness which contributes you to seeking medical advice repeatedly, whilst also changing aspects of your life as though you are seriously unwell e.g. avoiding exercise, changing your diet etc.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): If you have OCD you may feel the need to check things repeatedly or perform certain routines/actions repeatedly which may include wanting stop yourself from thinking particular thoughts. The need to complete these activities/actions is often associated with anxiety and may result in you spending significant amounts of time performing them, affecting your ability to get on with your daily activities.
Treatment for anxiety
The main psychological therapies Dr Rose uses to treat Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Panic Attacks and OCD are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness as these have a strong evidence-base to support their effectiveness. However, the approach decided upon will depend on your individual issues and current coping strategies.
Sometimes, it may be helpful to consider whether you may also benefit from medication to also help manage your symptoms. If you would like to consider this option Dr Rose is also able to refer you for a psychiatric assessment.