Anxious thoughts and feelings are a normal response to stressful situations. However, anxiety is abnormal if it occurs out of proportion to the stress within a situation or often when there is no apparent reason.
This often has a significant impact on day-to-day living.
Anxiety disorders include generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias, and panic disorder.
About 1 in 20 people in the UK suffer with an anxiety disorder at any specific time.
Anxiety can affect the body in a number of ways and each person may experience anxiety very differently. Common symptoms include:
The treatment options are dependent on which anxiety disorder(s) a person experiences and how severely they are affected.
Simple approaches; including exercise, relaxation techniques, improved sleep hygiene, identifying and removing stressors, and spending time with natural support groups (family and friends), can improve symptoms and reduce the impact on quality of life.
Some patients will also benefit from an element of psychological therapy, including counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), or exposure therapy.
Medical management primarily involves the use of anti-depressants (e.g. sertraline, fluoxetine) and benzodiazepines (e.g. diazepam). Beta-blockers (e.g. propranolol) can sometimes be useful for controlling symptoms experienced with panic attacks.
Medicinal cannabis can be considered when first line therapies have not achieved adequate benefit.