Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety and phobias affect about one in every ten people at some point in their lives. Anxiety is the normal human feeling of fear that we all experience when faced with threatening or difficult situations. It can help us to avoid dangerous situations, making us alert and giving us the motivation to deal with problems. But, if these feelings of anxiety are too strong, it can stop us from doing the things we want to.

What is Panic?

A sudden unexpected surge of anxiety which makes you want to leave the worrying situation.

What is Phobia?

A phobia is a fear of particular situations or things that are not dangerous, and which most people do
not find troublesome.
Anxiety Disorders are real, serious but treatable conditions

can occur at any age, especially during a person’s teens or twenties
twice as likely to occur in women as men. In fact, 30% of women will have some type of anxiety
disorder during their lifetime.
"Anxiety disorders” is a broad term; It encompasses six psychiatric disorders. However the
symptoms of each anxiety disorder may vary from person to person.

Most persons with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – Excessive uncontrollable worry about everyday issues,
such as school, work, money, friends and health.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) – (or Social Phobia) – Avoidance of everyday social situations due
to extreme anxiety.
Panic Disorders – Severe attacks of fear for no apparent reason, which may make a person feel
like he/she is having a heart attack.

Specific Phobias – Intense fear of an object, place or situation (such as using elevators, driving on
highways, or heights) that leads to an avoidance of the object or situation.
Obsessive - Compulsive-Disorder (OCD) – Persistent, recurring thoughts (obsessions) that reflect
exaggerated anxiety or fears and manifest as repetitive behaviours; for example, the uncontrollable
need to scrub one’s hands repeatedly or the insistence on absolute neatness and order.
Post Traumatic stress Disorder (PTSD) – Several months or years after a traumatic life experience, avoidance, detachment, difficulty in sleeping and concentrating, and the need to relieve the traumatic event.
Among them, Panic disorders may even be life threatening!

What causes Anxiety, Panic and Phobias?

Genes: Some of us seem to be born more anxious than others - research suggests that these problems can be inherited through our genes. However, even someone who is not naturally anxious can get anxious under enough pressure.

Circumstances: Sometimes it is obvious what is making you anxious. When the problem disappears, so does the anxiety. However, some circumstances are so threatening - like car crashes, train crashes or fires - that the anxiety goes on long after the event. You can feel nervous and anxious for months or years after the event, even if you were physically unharmed. This is called post-traumatic stress disorder.

Drugs: Street drugs like amphetamines, LSD or ecstasy can all make you anxious – for some people, the caffeine in coffee is enough.

Life experience: Bad experiences in the past, big changes in life in the present - pregnancy, changing job, becoming unemployed or moving house

What help is available?


Tranquillizers: These are the valium-type medicines, the benzodiazepines (like most sleeping tablets). They are very effective, but are quite addictive, even after using for four weeks . They should be taken for periods of 2 weeks or less.

Antidepressants: work well in anxiety. However they usually take two to four weeks to work and some can cause nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth and constipation. See our main leaflet on antidepressants for more information.

Beta blockers: (usually used to treat high blood pressure) can be used in low doses to control the physical shaking of anxiety.


This is a more intensive talking treatment which can help you to understand and control your anxieties. The treatment can take place in groups or individually and is usually weekly for several weeks or months. It is generally a form of cognitive behavioural therapy