Anxiety is a word we use to describe feelings of unease, worry and fear. It incorporates both the emotions and the physical sensations we might experience when we are worried or nervous about something.
When people use the word “anxiety,” they’re likely referring to one of two things: A general feeling of anxiousness that just about every person experiences at one point or another or a clinical anxiety condition.
Psychologist and anxiety expert, Dr Danielle Forshee, calls the former state “situational anxiety,” which is “when an incident happens in your life that results in feeling extremely emotionally distressed, being very worried about the future and the present, and having emotional responses and fears that seem out of control.”
It’s essentially extreme stress or stress that has spiralled beyond “normal” extents to create a lot of mental anguish, though it subsides after a short period of time.
It’s common to be anxious from time to time: you might feel tense, nervous and perhaps fearful at the thought of a stressful event or decision you’re facing, for example:
In situations like these it’s understandable to have worries about how you will perform, or what the outcome will be. For a short time you might even find it hard to sleep, eat or concentrate. When does anxiety become a mental health problem? It’s sometimes hard to know when it’s becoming a problem for you – but if your feelings of anxiety are very strong, or last for a long time, it can be overwhelming. For example:
What does anxiety feel like? If you experience anxiety, you might find that you feel some of the sensations in the table below. Anxiety can feel different for different people, so you might also experience other kinds of feelings, which aren’t listed here.
If you have felt anxious for a long time or you’re frequently anxious, you may experience additional effects in your mind and body, such as: