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What is anxiety and what are the symptoms?

Anxiety is a mental state characterised by feeling nervous, worried, tense, or frightened. It’s a natural response to situations that are scary, stressful, or challenging, and is something that everybody experiences from time to time.

It’s normal to feel anxious about an important presentation at university or at work or receiving the results of an examination or medical test, but in these kinds of situations, the anxious feeling is normally short-lived and goes away once the scary event has passed. Anxiety of this kind can be unpleasant but doesn’t usually require help from a doctor or Advanced Nurse Practitioner.

Anxiety as a mental health condition

For some people anxiety is much more severe and can be diagnosed as a mental health disorder. You may suffer from an anxiety disorder if:

  • Your anxious feelings are very strong, last a long time, or are hard to control
  • You feel that your anxious feelings are an “overreaction” to the circumstances
  • Your anxious feelings are disrupting your work, social life, or daily routine
  • You regularly experience the kinds of symptoms listed below

Common symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety is a condition that can cause physical and psychological symptoms, affecting how you think, feel, and behave.

Physical symptoms include:

  • Racing heart and a tight chest
  • Breathing faster than usual
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling restless and unable to relax
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Pins and needles
  • Having a dry mouth
  • Feeling hot or sweaty
  • Headaches or muscle aches
  • Feeling sick
  • Needing the toilet more often
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Grinding your teeth

Psychological symptoms include:

  • Feeling nervous, tense, or on edge
  • Not being able to control your feelings of worry
  • Worrying about lots of different things
  • Having a sense of dread and fearing the worst
  • Feeling detached or that things are unreal
  • Feeling snappy or irritable
  • Seeking reassurance from other people about your behaviour
  • Avoiding situations/cancelling plans that you worry will be stressful
  • Wanting to smoke or drink more than normal
  • Worrying about your anxiety

Speaking to a doctor or an ANP to discuss your anxiety may result in a diagnosis, following which you might receive medication and/or counselling/therapy. Even if you do not receive a diagnosis, simply talking to a medical professional can put your mind at ease.

If you’re experiencing these kinds of symptoms, book an appointment to speak to a clinician today with Doctor Care Anywhere about your anxiety.

Content reviewed by Jemma Shafier, a Doctor Care Anywhere


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