Anxiety and panic attacks

Explains anxiety and panic attacks, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.

What are anxiety disorders?

Anxiety can be experienced in lots of different ways. If your experiences meet certain criteria your doctor might diagnose you with a specific anxiety disorder.

Some commonly diagnosed anxiety disorders are:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) – this means having regular or uncontrollable worries about many different things in your everyday life. Because there are lots of possible symptoms of anxiety this can be quite a broad diagnosis, meaning that the problems you experience with GAD might be quite different from another person’s experiences.
  • Social anxiety disorder – this diagnosis means you experience extreme fear or anxiety triggered by social situations (such as parties, workplaces, or everyday situations where you have to talk to another person). It is also known as social phobia. See our page on types of phobia for more information.
  • Panic disorder – this means having regular or frequent panic attacks without a clear cause or trigger. Experiencing panic disorder can mean that you feel constantly afraid of having another panic attack, to the point that this fear itself can trigger your panic attacks. See our page on panic attacks for more information.
  • Phobias – a phobia is an extreme fear or anxiety triggered by a particular situation (such as going outside) or a particular object (such as spiders). See our pages on phobias for more information.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – this is a diagnosis you may be given if you develop anxiety problems after going through something you found traumatic. PTSD can involve experiencing flashbacks or nightmares which can feel like you’re re-living all the fear and anxiety you experienced at the time of the traumatic events. See our pages on PTSD and complex PTSD for more information.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – you may be given this diagnosis if your anxiety problems involve having repetitive thoughts, behaviours or urges. See our pages on OCD for more information.
  • Health anxiety – this means you experience obsessions and compulsions relating to illness, including researching symptoms or checking to see if you have them. It is related to OCD. You can find out more about health anxiety on the Anxiety UK website.
  • Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) – this means you experience obsessions and compulsions relating to your physical appearance. See our pages on BDD for more information.
  • Perinatal anxiety or perinatal OCD – some people develop anxiety problems during pregnancy or in the first year after giving birth. See our pages on perinatal anxiety and perinatal OCD for more information.

You might not have, or want, a diagnosis of a particular anxiety disorder – but it might still be useful to learn more about these different diagnoses to help you think about your own experiences of anxiety, and consider options for support.

Anxiety and other mental health problems

It’s very common to experience anxiety alongside other mental health problems, such as depression or suicidal feelings. If you have symptoms of both anxiety and depression but don’t fit one more clearly than the other, you might be given a diagnosis of ‘mixed anxiety and depressive disorder’.


Living with GAD & panic attacks after losing my Dad

“I really believe that talking is one of the best therapies you can have.”Read Zoe’s story

O.C.D Mental Obsessive Disorder — Kindness – Wisdom💥

Intrusive thoughts or obsessions as psychologists call them affecting everyone. But some people can’t get rid of them as easily as the rest of us. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental anxiety disorder which produces repeated thoughts or images about many different things, such as fear of germs, dirt, or intruders; acts of violence; […]

O.C.D Mental Obsessive Disorder — Kindness – Wisdom💥

Essential Tremor

Essential Tremor

Essential Tremor is considered one of the most common neurological movement disorders and is estimated to be eight to 10 times more prevalent than Parkinson’s disease.  People exhibit a rhythmic trembling of the hands, head, legs, trunk and/or voice.  It can afflict persons of any age, gender and race and in the vast majority of all cases it is inherited.  While more commonly noticed in older individuals, essential tremor can begin as early as birth.

Symptoms of tremor

Essential tremor is considered the most common neurologic movement disorder, and is 8–10 times more prevalent than Parkinson’s disease.

Essential tremor is a chronic condition characterised by involuntary, rhythmic tremor of a body part, most typically the hands and arms. 

Essential tremor is considered a slow progressive disorder and, in some people, may eventually involve the head, voice, tongue (with associated dysarthria), legs, and trunk.

However, in many people, the disorder may be relatively non-progressive. The tremor may be mild throughout life.

Identifying tremor

Tremor may be most visible when people maintain a fixed position. In some patients, the tremor may worsen upon performance tasks. People most often describe this feeling as a general “shakiness” or a vibrating sensation in the body. 

Hand tremor may cause difficulties with writing, drinking fluids from a glass or cup, eating, sewing, applying makeup, shaving, or dressing. 

In individuals with essential tremor, the next most frequently affected area of the body is the head, followed by the voice, tongue, legs, or trunk. These tremors may occur in isolation or along with tremor of the hands or arms. People find that tremors usually disappear during sleep.

Psychological and social effects of essential tremor

The psychosocial effects of essential tremor may be embarrassing and debilitating. Essential tremor may eventually affect the patient’s ability to perform certain work-related tasks; interfere with activities of daily living; or lead to withdrawal from social activities and interactions due to embarrassment. For some people with essential tremor, other symptoms may also be present such as unsteady, uncoordinated walking.

Diagnosing tremor

To be diagnosed with tremor it is best to see a doctor, who understands tremor, or a neurologist.

There are a number of ways in which tremor can be diagnosed:

  1. The diagnosis will typically begin with the person’s medical history being taken.
  2. The doctor will be looking not only for offending drugs (drugs prescribed for other medical conditions which can cause tremor as a side effect).
  3. The doctor will also ask about the family history.
  4. While the diagnosis of essential tremor remains a visual one, Brain scans Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computerised Tomography (CT) may be helpful in eliminating any other conditions which also produce tremor as a symptom.
  5. Blood samples may also be taken to rule out thyroid or copper metabolism problems.
  6. DATScan a diagnostic test can distinguish between essential tremor and tremors of Parkinson’s disease.

Downloadable information

Essential Tremor Information Leaflet

Coping with Disability

Probably everyone reading this will have or know someone with a disabilty of some kind. The list of disabilities is endless.

I myself was born with slight Cerebral Palsy which later in life contributed to me developing Epilepsy. Although my seizures are controlled by medication I sltill suffer the odd Focal or Partial seizure (though i haven’t had any for weeks).

My Cerebral Palsy is giving me more cause for concern at the moment as I keep loosing my balance.

Fortunately because of my positive mind I think I try not to let my disabilities get me down .

For more information check the link below

How to Emotionally Cope With Having Disabilities: 14 Steps (wikihow.com)

Anxiety

Photo by Atul Choudhary on Pexels.com

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry or fear which, when persistent and impacting on daily life may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Generalised Anxiety Disorder, which is one common type of anxiety disorder, is estimated to impact 5.9% of adults in England1.

Symptoms

Symptoms of anxiety include changes in thoughts and behaviour such as2:

  • Restlessnes
  • A feeling of dread
  • A feeling of being “on-edge”
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability

It can also involve physical feelings such as dizziness, nausea, heart palpitations (a noticeably strong, fast heartbeat), sweating, shortness of breath, headache, or dry mouth.

Occasionally feeling anxious, particularly about events or situations that are challenging or threatening, is a normal and extremely common response. However, if feelings of anxiety regularly cause significant distress or they start to impact on your ability to carry out your daily life, for example withdrawing or avoiding contact with friends and family, feeling unable to go to work, or avoiding places and situations then it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder2.

Types of Anxiety Disorder

There are different types of anxiety disorder, each of which will have slightly different symptoms and treatment. Some examples of anxiety disorders include2-5:

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder (regular sudden attacks of panic or fear)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Specific Phobias (overwhelming and incapacitating fear of a specific object, place, situation or feeling)

Causes

There are many different factors that may contribute to the development of mental health problems like anxiety disorders. These factors include biological factors (for example genetics6, experience of chronic physical illness or injury7 and psychological or social factors (experiences of trauma or adversity in childhood8, struggles with income or poverty1, employment status1, family and personal relationships, and living or work environment1.

Getting Support

There are a range of approaches for treatment and management of anxiety disorders, and the most appropriate method will vary depending on the type and severity of anxiety disorder, and personal circumstances.

Some common approaches to managing and treating anxiety disorders include:

Psychological Therapies:

This can involve working through thoughts, feelings and behaviours with a clinical psychologist or other mental health professional in regular sessions over a set period of time.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which helps to teach strategies for recognising and overcoming distressing or anxious thoughts, is one of the most common therapies for treatment and management of anxiety disorders2,3,5.

Self-Help and Self-Management:

This involves specially-designed resources (like information sheets, workbooks, exercises, or online programmes and courses) to support people to manage their feelings of anxiety in their own time.

Some of these approaches may involve the support of a therapist or other mental health professional, and some may be entirely self-led2-5.

Group Support:

Group sessions with other individuals experiencing similar problems where people can work through ways of managing anxiety. Some groups may involve the support of a therapist or other mental health professional2.

Medication:

Your GP or other healthcare provider can discuss different medication options to manage both the physical and psychological symptoms of anxiety. There is a range of medication that can be used to manage anxiety and it is important to discuss with your GP which one would be most appropriate for your circumstances2.

For more information about medication for anxiety disorders, visit the NHS Choices website.

Other Approaches

There may be other treatments or approaches available that are not outlined here. If you are considering support for anxiety disorders, we recommend getting in touch with your GP or primary care provider to discuss which approach may be best for you.