We all get frightened or worried from time to time. Usually fear is a good thing as it keeps us from getting too close to danger. Sometimes though, we can feel frightened or worry about things 'too much' and this can get in the way of enjoying life. This sort of fear or worry is called anxiety.
How common is it?
Anxiety is one of the common mental health problems. Nearly 300 thousand young people in Britain have an anxiety disorder. So you are not alone. Lots of people however, suffer in silence. It is important to recognise your problems and seek help especially when it starts affecting your everyday life.
What does anxiety feel like?
When we feel we are in danger, our brains tell our bodies to get ready to run away quickly. This means that if you have anxiety you may feel this in your mind, as well physically in your body.
The symptoms of anxiety include:
In your body or physically you may feel:
- heart racing
- short of breath
- ‘butterflies’ in the stomach.
In your mind you may:
- feel upset
- feel worried
- unable to relax
- have difficulty in concentrating.
What causes these worries and anxieties?
We do not really know what causes this illness. However, sometimes you may find the problems started after upsetting or frightening experiences in your life (like being bullied at school, having an illness, loss of a loved one or parents separating).
You may be able to manage one thing, but when lots of things happen at once, like parents separating, moving house and changing school, it can become much more difficult.
Anxiety tends to run in families, so if someone in your family is known to worry a lot, you may be more likely to worry as well. Some of this will be passed on in the genes, but you may also ‘learn’ anxious behaviour from being around anxious people. If your family or friends are anxious or harsh, it can make your anxiety worse. In this case it may help to talk to them about it.
Anxiety Resources and Reading Lists
Books for parents
“Helping Your Anxious Child: A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents”, Ronald Rapee, Ph.D., Susan H. Spence, Ph.D., Vanessa Cobham, Ph.D. and Ann Wignall
New Harbinger Publications, Inc. 2000
“Keys to Parenting Your Anxious Child” by Katherine Manassis. M.D. Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. 1996
“Worried No More: Help and Hope for Anxious Children” by Aureen Pinto Wagner. Lighthouse Press, Inc. 2002
“Monsters Under the Bed and Other Childhood Fears: Helping Your Child Overcome Anxieties, Fears, and Phobias” by SW Garber and RF Spitzman, Villard Books 1993
“Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents” Tracy Morris and John S March, Guildford Press, 2004
“Clinical Handbook of Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents” by A Eisen et al. Jason Aronson 1995