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Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Even the word can make some people feel uneasy. It is such a common feeling, and many suffer from it as a disorder yet still, we continue to live in a world where the effects on our daily lives are not understood or appreciated.

There are many levels of anxiety a person can feel, and these can also fluctuate. You may have felt anxious lots, or hardly at all, or you may have or be suffering from anxiety in a more serious way.

Some of us cannot differentiate between mild anxiety and trepidation, anticipation or even excitement. There’s a fine line with our emotions and believe it or not, it doesn’t always come naturally to be able to tell them apart, similar to stress and pressure.

So what is Anxiety?

Anxiety is our bodies response to situations we encounter, however, for some people, anxiety can be experienced very frequently, or to a level that affects their day to day life. When this is the case, it can be diagnosed as Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety disorders affect over 8 million people in the UK - over 1 in 10 of us!

Anxiety is a group of disorders including PTSD, phobias, acute stress disorder and panic disorder and can affect people in different ways to different levels. It could easily be said that no two persons experiences, triggers or coping mechanisms are the same.

There are a number of symptoms related to anxiety, but anxiety can often be experienced alongside other mental illnesses too, such as depression.

Symptoms can include:

Shaking, trembling

Sweaty palms, or sweating in general

Feeling sick

Lack of or increased appetite

Fast heartbeat

Feeling tearful

Lack of energy or feeling exhausted/ tired

Panic attacks

It can be useful to know your own triggers and signs as they may not be the same as someone else’s and, if possible, remove as many of those triggers as possible.

Here’s two scenarios for people that suffer with anxiety.

Lisa developed anxiety after an incident made her very nervous of supermarkets. She called in after a late work shift one night, and witnessed someone carrying a knife and talking and joking to a friend about threatening the cashier with it to get money out of the till. Whilst this did not happen, it left her extremely anxious about visiting supermarkets ever since, and especially alone and at night. There could be an element of PTSD here seeing as the event was so traumatic. This has migrated over into other situations such as crowded, busy places, even though they are not the same environment. She often experiences heart palpitations, sweating and feeling faint, to the point whereby she would have to abandon a trip out and go immediately home to safety. Lisa has not sought treatment for this and still struggles on a daily basis with new situations. Lisa doesn’t find household chores and management stressful and feels safer there. She has not told work about her condition as she feels it doesn’t affect her whilst at work, and doesn’t want people to know.

Lee has anxiety and describes it himself as ‘making too big a deal over little things’ but it was not to his knowledge caused or brought on by any particular event. Lee advised he can fret or worry about something someone has said, reading too much into what they mean, or can be worried all day at work about things such as a parcel arriving safely, or how much money is in the bank, causing him to check several times a day. In order to counteract this, Lee has avoided using text and message wherever possible with people and will talk face to face instead as he feels this helps, and he writes his outgoings and earnings down at the start of each month. He also chooses to withdraw cash out more frequently than use card, so that he feels more in control of what is going out of the bank. He advised me that he feels these coping mechanisms work well. His Line Manager at work knows Lee suffers with anxiety and can step in to assist if Lee feels he needs it whilst at work. Lee doesn’t’ struggle at all with social situations and is very outgoing. Outwardly, Lee does not appear to present with any signs of Anxiety on a day to day basis.

These are just two examples of how very different Anxiety can be, and show that they can be triggered very obviously by something, or not appear to be at all.

If any of this resonates with you, or someone you know presents like this what could you do to help?

If it is you – try to find your triggers. Can you remove them? Can you control them?

If it is another – try not to be a trigger, and be sympathetic to their feelings and situation.

Having Mental health First aiders in the workplace can really help. These are first aiders who are specially trained in mental health illnesses and the signs. They are also equipped with the skills needed to assist people in need of help, to avoid a more serious situation occurring or to provide comfort. Their main role is to prevent worsening and preserve life. They are not expected to diagnose or medicate. They can also signpost to other services.

In all cases, if you feel you or a person you know would like support, the following organisations can really help.

MINDInfoLine: The Mind InfoLine can help you find specialist services in your area. Helplines and listening services

Call 0300 123 3393

SAMARITANS: 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Call 116 123 (free from any phone).

SHOUT: For immediate support text SHOUT to 85258 to chat by text to a trained and supervised volunteer. Free, confidential and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

SANE: Saneline is open between 4pm to 10pm, 365 days a year

Call 0300 304 7000


CALM: CALM’s helpline and livechat are open from 5pm to midnight every day. 365 days a year.

Call 0800 58 58 58

For more options, visit the Helplines Partnership website for a directory of UK helplines:

If you require any First Aid for Mental Health Training, feel free to contact us on 01827 488021

Written by: Hayley Tollervey

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