Anxiety is an emotion of worry, fear or general unease. It’s normal to feel some anxiety in life, particularly as a result of stressful circumstances. However, an anxiety disorder might be present if anxiety does not go away over time or worsens, and it starts to interfere with normal aspects of life like relationships, work or studies.
Prolonged anxiety could be a result of a number of conditions, including social anxiety disorder (also called social phobia), another phobia such as agoraphobia, panic disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
There is also a condition called generalised anxiety disorder. This is a condition in which a person feels anxiety most days over an extended period of time, about a wide variety of things rather than about one specific thing. As well as a constant feeling of unease, they may suffer dizziness or heart palpitations, concentration problems and sleeping difficulties.
Generalised anxiety disorder may be diagnosed by a GP if a person’s anxiety is out of control, significantly harms their life, and has occurred on most days for the last six months.
Psychological therapies, including cognitive behavioural therapy, are available to treat generalised anxiety disorder. In the UK, a person can use psychological therapy services without going through a GP. Medicines like antidepressants can also be used in treatment.
Reducing levels of alcohol or caffeine intake can also help in tackling anxiety, as can regular exercise. Self-help courses and mindfulness can also be useful.