What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal, healthy emotion, and everyone experiences anxiety from time-to-time. For about one in every twelve people, however, anxiety is so persistent and severe that it creates serious difficulties. People with anxiety problems may be constantly fearful and worried or they may be so scared of certain situations that they can't face them. Severe anxiety can also lead to other problems like depression, relationship difficulties, and drug and alcohol abuse.

Anxiety Conditions

  • Worry & Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Specific Phobias
  • Social Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • Agoraphobia
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Worry & GAD

Anxiety sometimes takes the form of excessive worry. People may find their thoughts racing from one concern to the next. They often feel restless, edgy, and tense and may also have trouble sleeping. Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is an extreme form of worry. People who suffer from GAD tend to worry excessively about everyday things, such as their work, finances and family.

Specific Phobias

Unlike general worriers, people with phobias are extremely afraid of a limited number of things or situations, such as spiders, snakes, heights, enclosed spaces or flying. People with phobias may take extreme precautions to avoid the situation that they fear, or to escape from it. These 'precautions' may interfere with ordinary life e.g., a person may be unable to travel.

Social Anxiety

People who have social anxiety are afraid of social situations and often feel that people are looking, staring or sizing them up. They hate being the centre of attention and often dislike eating, drinking, or writing in front of other people. Some commonly feared social situations include: attending parties, public speaking, job interviews and exams.

Panic Attacks

A panic attack is a brief episode of extreme fear accompanied by intense physical sensations like shortness of breath; dizziness or faintness; increased heart rate or heart palpitations; trembling or shaking; sweating; nausea or 'butterflies' in the stomach; numbness or tingling; feelings that the things around them are unreal. The symptoms of panic often appear suddenly and without warning. People fear the unpredictability of the attacks, as well as what the symptoms may mean. They worry about going crazy, losing control of their actions, or dying.


Agoraphobia is a form of anxiety where people fear being alone in a range of places or situations from which escape might be difficult. People with agoraphobia often fear being outside the home alone; being in a crowd or standing in a line; being on a bridge; travelling in a bus, train or car. Agoraphobia is sometimes confused with specific phobia or social phobia, and it often occurs along with panic attacks.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is characterised by the presence of either obsessions or compulsions. Obsessions are distressing, unwanted thoughts, images or urges that enter a persons mind against their will. Compulsions are repetitive acts the person feels compelled to do. They may be physical acts, like washing hands or checking the door is locked, or mental acts, like counting. see current research

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress can develop after a severe trauma, such as a robbery, assault, major car accidents, and natural disasters. People tend to have recurrent thoughts or dreams about the traumatic event, and to become very distressed when they are exposed to reminders of the event. They often avoid objects; people and places associated with the trauma and may show signs of increased physical arousal, such as sleep disturbances.