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Everyone gets anxious from time to time. Anxiety can help you to stay safe, for example it brings about physiological symptoms that warn you to either fight, flight or freeze in dangerous situations, such as running away from an angry dog. Anxiety also helps you perform better, for example feeling anxious before an exam can assist you to stay alert, which helps you to do your best. So it is not uncommon to feel anxious before exams or when there are stressful events in your life.

However, if this anxiety is interfering with many areas of your day to day life, such as you job, schoolwork, relationships and how you socialise with people, it is possible that you have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can make you feel very anxious a lot of the time and this anxiousness can last over a long period of time and can happen in a lot of situations.

Anxiety disorders can affect anyone. Anxiety often comes when people hold in their fears until they begin to feel anxiety.

The signs of an anxiety disorder include:

  • Endless checking or rechecking actions.

  • A constant and unrealistic worry about everyday occurrences and activities.

  • Fear and anxiety that appear for no apparent reason.

Anxiety disorders include the following:

  • Panic Disorder: a sudden, uncontrollable attack of terror that can manifest itself with heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, and an out of control or terribly frightening feeling;

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: excessive anxiety and worry that last for at least six months accompanied by other physical and behavioural problems;Social

  • Phobia: a persistent fear of one or more situations in which the person is exposed to possible scrutiny of others;

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: repeated, intrusive and unwanted thoughts that cause anxiety, often accompanied by ritualized behaviour that relieve this anxiety;

  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: caused when someone experiences a severely distressing or traumatic event. Recurring nightmares and/or flashbacks and unprovoked anger are common symptoms.

By contacting a psychologist, those who suffer from an anxiety disorder can take the first step on the road to recovery. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, 90 percent of people with emotional illnesses will improve or recover if they get treatment.

** With thanks to and American Psychological Association

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