ANXIETY disorders are extremely common – with celebrities including Loose Women's Denise Welch, One Direction's Zayn Malik and Love Island's Kem Cetinay affected by the condition.
But what are the symptoms of anxiety and how can you best support someone who is struggling? Here's what you need to know…
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal feeling, also known as the "fight or flight" response.
When presented with stress or danger, the body pumps adrenalin through to body – allowing it to cope with the situation at hand.
However, anxiety can become a problem when this response occurs unnecessarily – either because the danger is not that severe, or there isn't actually any danger at all.
Anxiety disorders can develop as a result of a number of factors, including stress, genetics and childhood environment.
There are also a number of different types of anxiety disorder, from generalised anxiety to obsessive compulsive disorder, specific phobias and panic disorders.
Some people may suffer from more than one type of anxiety disorder – for example, people with a specific phobia might experience panic as a result.
Which celebrities have spoken out about it?
Pop stars Zayn and Olly are part of a wider trend of celebrities challenging taboos around mental illness by speaking out about their experiences.
James Arthur recently spoke out on This Morning about his new book, Back to the Boy, which documents his battle with anxiety.
Will Young has spoken of his struggles with anxiety, which was reportedly the reason behind him quitting Strictly this year.
While Peter Andre has thanked Loose Women for allowing him to understand his own social anxiety.
YouTube star Zoella revealed how her crippling anxiety made her turn down the chance to meet Prince Harry.
Kem Cetinay has spoken out about the anxiety and panic attacks he suffered from childhood. Through therapy he discovered that they were linked to his mum being very ill during his childhood, and he only managed to combat his condition a year before he entered Love Island.
Selena Gomez has also spoken powerfully living with mental health problems, bringing the American Music Awards crowd to their feet with a moving speech.
And Celebrity Big Brother star Nicola McLean was forced to see a doctor and threatened to quit the reality show after a series of rows with Kim Woodburn reignited her anxiety.
How can you support someone struggling with anxiety?
As with any mental health condition, people often feel isolated, alone and ashamed of how they are feeling – concerned that they are the only person in the world to struggle in this way.
If you know someone has said that they suffer from anxiety – or you suspect they do – the best thing you can do it be there for them.
Make sure they know they are loved and cared about.
Tell them that you want to help and support them, that you release this process could take a long time but that you are willing to wait.
Explain to them that the best thing they can do is to reach out and seek help from a professional but let them know that you realise they may not be comfortable doing that straight away.
Be gentle and allow them to move at their own pace rather than forcing them to take immediate action.
When they are ready visiting a GP and connecting with other people who have suffered from anxiety would be a good place to start.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
According to Anxiety UK, the signs of anxiety can be divided into physical and psychological symptoms.
You may not experience all of them, but physical symptoms include:
- Racing heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Dry mouth
- Butterflies in stomach
- Urge to pass urine/empty bowels
- Pins and needles
Meanwhile, the psychological symptoms include:
- Inner tension
- Fear of losing control
- Dread that something catastrophic is going to happen (such as blackout, seizure, heart attack or death)
- Feelings of detachment
The symptoms of panic attacks can feel similar to a heart attack – as they often involve rapid breathing, chest pains and pins and needles.
How is anxiety treated?
If you think you may be suffering from anxiety, your GP should be your first port of call.
Doctors usually advise treating anxiety with psychological treatments before prescribing medicine.
Self-help techniques, lifestyle changes such as exercise and avoiding caffeine, and cognitive behavioural therapy can all help.
However, in cases where medication is deemed necessary, your doctor may offer you types of antidepressant medication to ease your symptoms.
If they aren't suitable, your GP may offer pregabalin instead – which is usually used to treat epilepsy, but can be helpful for anxiety too.
Meanwhile, for short term relief of anxiety, benzodiazepines such as diazepam can be offered – but are not prescribed for long periods due to the risk of addiction.
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