We all have times when we worry and feel anxious. It’s very common to feel tense or unsure about a potentially stressful situation, such as starting a new job, or moving home, or challenges in work or family relationships. Despite being a normal experience, if these feelings are very strong or are lasting a long time, it can be overwhelming.

Anxiety results from the body's natural reaction to dangerous, threatening and stressful situations. The body prepares itself to fight or run away, known as the 'fight or flight' response. Your heart rate will increase and you may get sweaty palms as well as a number of other symptoms. It may be that your body is responding to physical harm such as an approaching car, or something stressful such as exams, a job interview or meeting new people.

While these responses are absolutely normal in the short term to protect you from harm, feelings of anxiety can sometimes go on for a long time – long after the harm has gone away. When anxiety lasts a long time and starts to have an impact on everyday life you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety is often caused by situations we feel we can’t control or things that have upset us in the past. We are inclined to remember the times that we feel we have failed for example and fear recreating that same experience. And it’s not just situations or memories that can trigger anxiety. Anxiety can be related to confidence, how we feel about ourselves and our abilities can be a factor. Our physical health is also a consideration. If we don’t look after ourselves, what we eat and drink, how much we sleep and how much we exercise, it can contribute significantly to our anxious thoughts. Unfortunately, if we allow it, anxiety itself can become a problem. We start to feel anxious about feeling anxious. We worry that our anxiety itself will get in the way and anxious thoughts spiral out of control.

Types of anxiety can include:

Generalised Anxiety - A tendency to worry excessively all the time

Specific Phobias - Can include fear of flying, fear of heights or fear of animals

Social Anxiety or Social Phobia - A general fear of social situations and interactions

Panic Attacks or Panic Disorder- Sudden disturbing sensations of fear, panic or loss of control

Counselling can be an extremely useful approach in helping you deal with your anxiety. Therapy helps by giving you the time that you need to reflect on the reasons why you might be suffering the way you currently are. It can help you to trace the underlying meanings behind your anxiety, the thoughts, fears, triggers, memories and behaviours that might be contributing to your anxious feelings.