Feeling anxious in response to life’s stresses is very normal. In some circumstances, like before an exam, a little bit of anxiety can even be a good thing- making you work harder than you usually would. What’s not good, is when you feel anxious for no reason at all, and it’s impacting on your quality of life.
Here at CarePlus Pharmacy, we understand that just thinking about talking to someone about your anxiety can make you even more anxious—but talking does help. You can pop into any CarePlus Pharmacy and have a chat with one of our pharmacists if you feel that anxiety is having a negative effect on your life. In the meantime, take a look at the information below. It explains what anxiety is, what effects anxiety can have on your health, and tips for relieving anxiety naturally.
When feelings of anxiety are persistent and have no obvious cause, it is called Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD is a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event. People with GAD feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed. GAD can cause both psychological (mental) and physical symptoms. These vary from person to person but can include feeling restless or worried and having trouble concentrating or sleeping.
Most people develop GAD for no apparent reason, but some causes include:
- An imbalance of the brain chemicals serotonin and noradrenaline, which are involved in the control and regulation of mood
- The genes you inherit from your parents – you are estimated to be five times more likely to develop GAD if you have a close relative with the condition
- Having a history of stressful or traumatic experiences, such as domestic violence, child abuse or bullying
- Having a painful long-term health condition, such as arthritis
- Having a history of drug or alcohol misuse
Symptoms of anxiety
Anxiety can have both psychological and physical symptoms.
Psychological symptoms can include:
- Feeling worried or uneasy a lot of the time
- Having difficulty sleeping, which makes you feel tired
- Not being able to concentrate
- Being irritable
- Being extra alert
- Feeling on edge or not being able to relax
- Needing frequent reassurance from other people
- Feeling tearful
When you are feeling anxious or stressed, your body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These cause the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as an increased heart rate and increased sweating.
Physical symptoms can include:
- A pounding heartbeat
- Breathing faster
- Palpitations (an irregular heartbeat)
- Feeling sick
Anxiety can also be a symptom of another condition, such as panic disorder (when you have panic attacks) or post-traumatic stress disorder, which is caused by frightening or distressing events.
When to see your GP
Although feelings of anxiety at certain times are completely normal, you should see your GP if anxiety is affecting your daily life or is causing you distress.
GAD can have a significant effect on your daily life, but several different treatments are available that can help ease your symptoms. These include:
- Psychological therapy – such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Medication – such as a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Exposure therapy. This can be helpful when it comes to phobias
It is important to recognise that you have stress or anxiety and treat it accordingly.
What can I do to reduce my anxiety?
There are many things that you can do to help reduce your anxiety, such as going on a self-help course, exercising regularly and cutting down on the amount of alcohol and caffeine you drink. We know that many people are tired of being told to cut down on their alcohol intake, but alcohol is a depressant substance and can make symptoms of GAD much, much worse.
With treatment, healthy lifestyle choices and emotional support many people can control their levels of anxiety. However, some treatments may need to be continued for a long time and there may be periods where your symptoms worsen.
If you want to discuss anxiety, please drop into one of our CarePlus Pharmacies.