Anxiety & panic attacks
Guiding you through understanding anxiety and panic attacks, exploring their triggers, and discovering ways to seek treatment and support.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a common emotion where you might feel worried, nervous, or scared, particularly about things that could happen in the future.
It’s a natural part of being human, often kicking in when we feel threatened or unsure about what’s coming next. Anxiety isn’t just about feeling stressed or worried; it can also cause physical symptoms, making you feel uncomfortable in your own body.
Everyone experiences anxiety at some point, especially during challenging times or when facing significant changes that could have a big impact on their lives.
Jump to a section:
The ‘Fight, Flight or Freeze’ response
The ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response is a crucial part of how we experience anxiety. It’s an instinctive reaction that happens in our bodies when we feel threatened. This response triggers the release of certain hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which prepare our bodies to deal with the danger.
These hormones make us more alert and quick to react, and they also speed up our heart rate to ensure that blood is efficiently delivered to important parts of our body.
After the danger is gone, our bodies calm down by releasing other hormones that relax our muscles. This sudden relaxation can sometimes cause us to shake, as our bodies transition from a state of high alert back to normal.
When does anxiety become a mental health concern?
Feeling anxious is a part of normal life, especially during stressful events or significant life changes. However, anxiety can escalate into a mental health concern if it:
- Becomes overwhelming or persists for extended periods.
- Is disproportionate to the situation at hand.
- Leads to avoidance of certain situations due to fear.
- Causes distress or difficulty in controlling worry.
- Triggers regular anxiety symptoms, including panic attacks.
- Hinders everyday activities or enjoyment of life.
In some cases, if the symptoms align with certain medical criteria, an individual might be diagnosed with a specific anxiety disorder. However, it’s also common to experience anxiety issues without a formal diagnosis.
Coping with anxiety
For immediate anxiety or panic attack management, refer to our dedicated guide on handling panic attacks. To manage stress, which often accompanies anxiety, our stress management resources offer valuable strategies.