Anxiety is an adrenaline-fuelled feeling that everyone will experience, to some extent, during his or her lifetime. For some, this feeling and its physical and mental manifestations will arise at naturally stressful times – before a big meeting at work, before a visit to the doctors or before embarking on a new challenge, for example. This is normal and can even be beneficial if it drives us to work harder or be more prepared.
For others, however, anxiety can be triggered by seemingly small, unimportant events or situations. They may not even be able to put a finger on what's ignited that feeling of unease and panic that, in turn, can induce headaches, feelings of exhaustion, limb discomfort, light-headedness and lack of appetite.
These are the people that don't have to accept such levels of anxiety as normal and should perhaps think about taking steps to over come them. If you recognise any of the following behavioural traits in yourself, read on to find out where you can seek advice…
6 signs your anxiety is taking over
1. Turning down social invitations
Of course it is ok to say no to dinner parties, lunch dates or social gatherings occasionally if you are feeling unwell, but if you regularly turn down opportunities to socialise because they make you feel nervous and anxious about their outcome, then your anxiety may have begun to take control.
The more you avoid the situations that cause anxiety, the tighter the anxiety will squeeze you. Although it may be hard and scary in the short term to face your fears and go to that party or weekend away, it will make you feel more empowered and in control in the long run.
2. You have trouble sleeping
Those nighttime hours, when all we long for is both mental and physical rest, are often the ones when our brains will try and conquer our worries and troubles. Our anxieties can invade our dreams, wake us up in the night and even completely stop us from drifting-off in the first place.
The more tired you feel during the day, the less likely you are to feel motivated to face your anxiety triggers.
3. Your moods are affecting your relationships
A cocktail of anxious feelings and exhaustion can make you feel grotty and grumpy. It's easy to get yourself in a state of self-pity which can feel, at times, like it will be never-ending. It's also easy to take these feelings out on those who are closest to us.
You may also find yourself feeling misunderstood and alone if your friends and family have never experienced anxiety before and can't understand your struggle.
But, a strong support network is crucial for our wellbeing so, if you feel your relationships shifting because of your anxiety, it's time to seek advice.
4. A change in your weight
Feeling anxious can often suppress appetite and cause weight loss. It can also, on the other hand, lead to comfort eating and cause weight gain. Both of these can have knock-on affects on our general health and wellbeing.
Sudden changes in weight can also signify a number of other health conditions and should always be assessed by your GP.
5. You have increasingly negative and potentially harmful thoughts
This is perhaps the most obvious but, especially if anxiety is a new sensation for you, you may need to take a step back and see if your thought processes and personality traits have changed over time.
If you are unhappy, always use negative terminology towards yourself, have feelings of worthlessness and, at the most extreme, urges to harm yourself, you should seek help immediately.
6. You no longer do the things that make you happy
Whether it's gardening, seeing friends, going to yoga, painting or simply reading a book, if you are doing less of these due to any of the above reasons, it's probably time to get back to your old self!
How to get help…
-Contact your GP who will be able to give you a medical assessment and make necessary referrals and give advice.
-Enroll on a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) course. These are often courses of around six weeks that equip you with practical methods and new ways of thinking to help you combat your own anxious thoughts and worries. You can be referred by your GP or enquire through your council about local services in your area.
-Explore websites such as and , both of which have a range of self-help resources and support options available.
-Download an app. There are a whole host of apps that can be downloaded to your phone, tablet or computer that promote calm and relaxation. The NHS recommends and , among others. Read their full list .