Background and Symptoms

It is normal to experience feeling anxious every now and then. Anxiety disorders are those which are extreme enough to interfere with your ability to lead a normal life. Worry and constant fear are common symptoms that can become overwhelming and disabling to an individual. Mixed anxiety & depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, with 7.8% of people meeting criteria for diagnosis (NICE, 2011).

1NICE (2011). Common mental health disorders | Guidance and guidelines | NICE. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Aug 2015].

Common symptoms experienced across most anxiety disorders include;

  • Panic, fear, uneasiness
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Restlessness
  • Cold, sweaty, numb or tingly feeling in hands or feet
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Tense muscles



Types of anxiety and panic disorders include;

  • Panic disorder (terror/panic attacks that strike at any random time)
  • Generalised anxiety disorder (excessive, irrational worry and tension with little or no cause)
  • Social anxiety disorder (overwhelming worry and self-consciousness surrounding everyday social situations)
  • Specific phobias (intense fear of a specific object or situation)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (obsessive thoughts/compulsive behaviours surrounding a specific object or situation)
  • And many more…

Generalised Anxiety disorder is the most common type of anxiety disorder and has a high rate of comorbidity with other psychiatric disorders (Simon, 2009)


Simon (2009)




As far as research has found, there is no single cause for anxiety. Causes can vary from chemical changes or faulty circuits in the brain (linked with fear and emotion), environmental stress, life events, learned behaviours or even genetics and is most likely to be a combination of factors.



Treatment will vary based on the individual and the diagnosis. MHWB can offer a range of treatments including medication and psychological therapies (e.g. EMDR & CBT). The client may also be directed to self-help tools such as Be Mindful Online is an online mindfulness course offered by the Mental Health Foundation. Research on the online course in 2013 found that for the 273 people that completed the course, there was, on average, a 58% reduction in anxiety levels. 4Mental Health Foundation (n.d). Evidence & Research. Available at [Accessed August 2015].

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