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Mental Health Awareness Week focuses on anxiety

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What is anxiety? Yes, we know it's a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe, but the mental health condition is much more complex.

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week focuses on giving us not just a better understanding of anxiety, but breaking down the different types of something which affects an average of 8 million people in the UK.

Here’s a list of anxiety disorders and how they can interfere with our daily lifestyle.

Generalised anxiety disorder

The most common form of anxiety, also known as GAD, relates to the feeling we have when excessively worrying about something.

Having a fear constantly on your mind can affect your job, travel and disrupt sleeping patterns, in severe cases you may not want to leave the house.

GAD can also bring on physical symptoms such as muscle tension and sweating.

But how do you know if you have the condition, in fairness we all feel anxious from time to time?

If you have anxiety for most days over a six month period and it’s affecting your lifestyle it may be an idea to speak to your GP.

Panic disorder

Experience regular panic attacks for no reason? That’s a panic disorder and it can be pretty blooming scary.

In some cases you can suffer a panic attack and feel detached from your body.

Symptoms can include an overwhelming sense of fear, chest pains, fear that you are dying or suffering a heart attack, a dry mouth or shortness of breath, nausea, numbness/ tingling in your fingers, a need to go to the loo, a churning stomach or ringing in your ears.

Social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder is the term given to a fear of social situations which can be triggered before, during or after an event such as speaking in public, meeting strangers, going on a date or eating/ drinking in public.

Most of these situations usually bring on some level of anxiety, but the disorder relates to when the feeling turns to intense dread.

The condition can bring on symptoms such as sweating, racing heartbeat, a shaky voice and blushing which is difficult to control.

Health anxiety

This is the term given to people who consistently believe they are ill or going to become sick.

People with health anxiety keep on checking for signs of illness such as lumps or pain, ask others for reassurance that they are healthy, worry about their results from medical professionals being incorrect, constantly read health information online and avoid health related content, such as watching soap operas. 

Phobias

Phobias are intense feelings of an object, place, situation or animal. 

Someone with a phobia may avoid the thing that is causing them anxiety.

The most common phobias are reptiles/ insects, heights, germs, going to the dentist, blood, being sick or worries about sexual performance.

All these are common concerns, but a phobia is when that level of fear becomes intensified.

Agoraphobia 

This form of anxiety relates to the fear of being trapped or that something could go wrong.

Examples include leaving the house, being in public spaces, using public transport and being in crowded spaces which can bring on distress, anxiety or panic attacks.

The Catch 22 situation is…if you have agoraphobia you may feel uneasy going to see a doctor in person in case something happens to you outside your home, but one solution is to request your GP to call you.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 runs from May 15th - 21th. For more information visit the Mental Health UK website ]

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