Information and events Mental Health Support About Mental Health Read more about coping with anxiety, fear and panic What are the symptoms of anxiety? Things you can try to help with anxiety, fear and panic Causes of anxiety, fear and panic Many people feel anxious or scared sometimes, but if it's affecting your life there are things you can try that may help. But when anxiety is constant or overwhelming—when worries and fears interfere with your relationships and daily life—you’ve likely crossed the line from normal anxiety into the territory of an anxiety disorder. Symptoms of anxiety Anxiety can cause many different symptoms. It might affect how you feel physically, mentally and how you behave. It's not always easy to recognise when anxiety is the reason you're feeling or acting differently. Physical symptoms faster, irregular or more noticeable heartbeat feeling lightheaded and dizzy headaches chest pains loss of appetite Mental symptoms feeling tense or nervous being unable to relax worrying about the past or future feeling tearful not being able to sleep Changes in behaviour not being able to enjoy your leisure time difficulty looking after yourself problems concentrating at work struggling to form or maintain relationships worried about trying new things Symptoms of a panic attack If you experience sudden, intense anxiety and fear, it might be the symptoms of a panic attack. Other symptoms may include: feeling that you're losing control sweating, trembling or shaking shortness of breath or breathing very quickly feeling sick (nausea) A panic attack usually lasts 5 to 30 minutes. They can be very frightening, but they're not dangerous and should not harm you. If you're not sure how you feel, try the NHS mood self-assessment. Things you can try to help with anxiety, fear and panic DO Try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. You could email: [email protected] if you need someone to talk to use calming breathing exercises exercise – activities such as running, walking, swimming and yoga can help you relax find out how to get to sleep if you're struggling to sleep eat a healthy diet with regular meals to keep your energy levels stable consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help each other. Find out more about peer support on the Extern website DON'T do not try to do everything at once – set small targets that you can easily achieve do not focus on the things you cannot change – focus your time and energy into helping yourself feel better do not avoid situations that make you anxious – try slowly building up time spent in worrying situations to gradually reduce anxiety try not to tell yourself that you're alone; most people experience anxiety or fear at some point in their life try not to use alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or drugs to relieve anxiety as these can all contribute to poor mental health Anxiety control training audio guide In this 6-minute audio guide, Dr Chris Williams talks about how to relax and beat your anxieties, today and in the long term. Causes of anxiety, fear and panic There are many different causes of anxiety, fear or panic and it's different for everyone. When you're feeling anxious or scared, your body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. This can be helpful in some situations, but it might also cause physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate and increased sweating. In some people, it might cause a panic attack. Regular anxiety, fear or panic can also be the main symptom of several health conditions. Do not self-diagnose – speak to a GP if you're worried about how you're feeling. Identifying the cause If you know what's causing anxiety, fear or panic, it might be easier to find ways to manage it. Some examples of possible causes include: work – feeling pressure at work, unemployment or retirement family – relationship difficulties, divorce or caring for someone financial problems – unexpected bills or borrowing money health – illness, injury or losing someone (bereavement) difficult past experiences – bullying, abuse or neglect Even significant life events such as buying a house, having a baby or planning a wedding could lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. You might find it hard to explain to people why you feel this way, but talking to someone could help you find a solution. Conditions related to anxiety, fear and panic A table showing some of the conditions related to anxiety, fear and panic Symptoms Possible cause feelings of anxiety that will not go away, anxiety is affecting your life generalised anxiety disorder overwhelming fear of something specific like an object, place or animal phobias regularly experiencing panic attacks panic disorder often reliving traumatic past experiences, nightmares and flashbacks post-traumatic stress disorder Help bring hope to people who are vulnerable and isolated. Please select a donation amount (required) £20 could help us to provide additional assistance to someone facing mental health illness £25 could help us provide support to someone facing urgent housing crisis £50 could help ensure young people and families in crisis are offered essential supports Other Set up a regular payment Donate Ask for an urgent GP appointment or call 111 if: you need help urgently, but it's not an emergency 111 can tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone. Go to 111.nhs.uk or call: 111. Call 999 or go to A&E now if: you or someone you know needs immediate help you have seriously harmed yourself – for example, by taking a drug overdose A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a medical emergency.