Anxiety is something we all experience from time to time.
Most people can relate to feeling tense, uncertain and perhaps fearful at the thought of sitting an exam, going into hospital, attending an interview or starting a new job.
In turn, worries can affect your sleep, appetite and ability to concentrate. If everything goes well, the anxiety will go away. This type of short-term anxiety can be useful. Feeling nervous before an exam can make you feel more alert and enhance your performance.
However, if the feelings of anxiety overwhelm you, your ability to concentrate and do well may suffer.
If the anxiety stays at a high level for a long time, you may feel that it is difficult to deal with everyday life. The anxiety may become severe; you may feel powerless, out of control, as if you are about to die or go mad. Sometimes, if the feelings overwhelm you, you may experience a panic attack.
A panic attack is an exaggeration of the body’s normal response to fear, stress or excitement. It is the rapid build-up of overwhelming sensations, such as a pounding heartbeat, feeling faint, swearing, nausea, chest pains, breathing discomfort and so on. If you experience this, you may fear that you are going mad, blacking out, or having a heart attack.
Panic attacks come on very quickly, symptoms usually peaking within 10 minutes, with most lasting between 5 and 20 minutes.
For some people they seem to come without warning and strike at random. They can also come at night and wake you up.