Anxiety is that nervous, panicky feeling you experience when you are faced with something scary like an exam or a first day at college. It is the body's way of dealing with stressful situations by making you feel more alert and having more energy. For most people, that anxious feeling goes away after a short period or once the difficult situation is over, and they begin to feel calmer again.
Everyone experiences anxiety at some point, however if the feelings are too strong or are there all the time it can be a problem. For some people their levels of anxiety can get to the point where it can have an impact on that person’s life, maybe preventing them from going out and socialising or they may experience depression. Some people will feel anxious all the time while other people may feel extremely anxious in certain situations.
Causes of anxiety
We’re not entirely sure what causes anxiety. Everyone gets anxious at times and anyone can go on to have anxiety issues. Some things can make you more at risk of having issues such as your genes – whether someone in your family has also suffered with anxiety problems. Other risk factors include stressful events, having depression, being single, being younger and your personality – these are just a few that we know, there are probably a lot more.
One in six young people will experience anxiety at some point in their lives and so it is a fairly common mental health condition and one that can be treated with medication, psychological therapies such as talking/counselling, or relaxation techniques or a combination of these. What works for one person might not work for the next but if you visit your GP they can explain the different types of treatment that are available and what he or she thinks might be the best option for you and why.
Symptoms of anxiety
Young people with anxiety may experience a few or all of the following physical symptoms:
- Feeling panicky or nervous
- Feeling sick (nausea)
- Heart racing or palpitations
- Dry mouth
- Shakiness or tremor
- Difficulty breathing or a tight chest
Also, you may feel psychological symptoms like:
- Feeling that something bad is going to happen
- Feeling restless
- Feeling down or depressed
- Difficulties getting to sleep due to worrying or waking up throughout the night
Different types of anxiety
Young people with anxiety are often diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (or GAD for short) which affects 1 in 25 people in the UK. Young people who have GAD worry a lot of the time and the anxiety makes doing every day things difficult.
Some young people who are experiencing anxiety develop a phobia where they become scared of one particular thing and their anxiety centres on that one thing. Others may experience panic attacks which are waves of extreme anxiety that come on in certain situations and last for about 10 minutes. For other people, their anxiety comes out as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder where the person may have obsessions or thoughts about something and then feel the need to carry out rituals to make those things better.
If you would like more information about anxiety and the way it affects young people, you can visit the YoungMinds website.
If your GP suggests that medication may help you, the HeadMeds website will provide you with more information about the medication they are recommending, how it works, how you should take it and how you might feel. It should also be able to answer any questions you might have about going on medication.
If I could go back in time to before I started taking meds, I would tell myself to persevere as things will get better, even if it doesn’t feel that way.
Common medications for this condition