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.

A day in the life of a young carer

Being a young carer has to fit around our everyday activities and our routines. Despite our caring roles, we still attend school, something we juggle five days a week.

Morning

The hardest thing about being a young carer can be not getting enough sleep

I wake up and feel tired and sick

Before I leave for school I would tell my mum to ring me if needed and I’d ring back at lunch time

During the school day

School can make us feel different things…

School can take our mind off things, and allow a break from the caring role, but throughout the day we can worry about the person we care about.

My school lets me call at break time from the office

We really want to be able to call or message to check on them, but unfortunately schools don’t always allow us to use mobile phones on the school premises. Sometimes it feels like no one understands. There aren’t assemblies on being a young carer so it can feel difficult to talk to people about it.

I just stay quiet, I don’t tell my friends or if they ask questions I make excuses

We had an assembly for mental health awareness week, it made me think about my mum a lot and I felt sad

Most of us have support at school – we feel more likely to go talk to a member of staff rather than a classmate, but this isn’t always as thorough as we’d hope for.

They kind of provide support, but something more than just talking would be better

After school

The first thing I do when I finish school is check my phone for messages from my dad

We usually go straight home. It can be difficult fitting everything in; our caring roles often mean that we aren’t able to see friends, do after school activities or even do our homework.

After school, I go see my Mum first and see what she needs help with, after checking on her I get on with my chores

I very rarely go out after school or spend time with friends

Sometimes I haven’t done my homework in time and I have to copy off my friends or rush it last minute

On a Wednesday I go play football, I can’t let the team down but it also feels bad leaving my Mum

Bed

Before bed, we make sure everything is taken care of and prepare for the next day.

I get stuff ready for the next day and my stuff for school

The last thing I do before bed is check that my dad has taken his tablets