Mild stress and anxiety are common emotions. They are healthy and expected responses to the daily pressures of life.  However for some, anxiety is not something that is manageable – it is an overwhelming feeling which can be mentally and physically debilitating. There are different types of anxiety and getting the right diagnosis is important to ensure you get the correct treatment programme.

Dr Stephen Ilyas, BSc (Hons), MBBS, BDS, MRCPsych

Dr Stephen Ilyas, BSc (Hons), MBBS, BDS, MRCPsych

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Common types of anxiety

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)  – GAD is characterised by extreme worry about money, work, family life, social interactions and health concerns. Unlike some other forms of anxiety its focus shifts from one thing to another depending on what is going on your life.

Depression and anxiety is the most common mental health complaint in the UK. For many people, depression and anxiety plagues their life, leaving them on the one hand overwhelmed by an encompassing sadness and lack of hope for the future and on the other wracked with crippling anxiety where they feel constantly on edge.

Performance anxiety  – To a degree, is a very useful set of emotions in fact; triggering a ‘fight or flight’ response that prepares the body for the danger it perceives, making us more alert and ready to respond. The anxiety becomes a problem when your career rests on those performances or when it begins to seriously impact on your quality of life.

Social anxiety is characterised by crippling self-consciousness and anxiety when in the company of other people. It can make it very hard to function effectively at work and can severely limit people’s ability to form relationships.

Obsessive compulsive disorder is usually thought of as a form of anxiety where the sufferer develops strategies to try to manage underlying anxiety such as routines which can be physical (eg turning switches off a certain number of times) or mental (counting in a certain way before undertaking actions).

When these routines start to interfere with life they are called compulsions. Obsessions are intrusive and unwelcome thoughts, often of embarrassing or shameful content, which occur unbidden. They can cause great anxiety themselves because of their content.

The above is not exhaustive and you would need to talk to one our psychiatrists to explore your symptoms in detail before making a diagnosis.

Treatment options for Anxiety

Anxiety is treatable with either medication, talking therapy or both.  

Medication works by altering the chemical balance in the brain with different medicines having different effects on the brain. You may have to try different medications to find the right one for you.

It is important this process is undertaken with your psychiatrist in order to maximise the chance of finding an effective and tolerable treatment as quickly as possible.

Talking therapy – Our psychiatrists can refer you to the right type of therapy.

Anxiety and other mental health conditions

Anxiety can be commonly experienced along with other conditions e.g. depression and substance abuse.  These other conditions may need to be treated before the anxiety can be successfully dealt with. It is therefore crucial to see a trained professional with experience of treating anxiety.

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I was very nervous about my appointment, having been let down by an NHS Psychiatrist stating I had a personality disorder and it was treatment resistant. …[Dr - ] put me at ease, listened, asked all the right questions. The hour flew by and the most important thing was I'd got a new diagnosis and a recommendation for a change in medicine...Generalised Anxiety Disorder with other traits….To me it was worth every penny.... It's your life, and it's priceless, do yourself a favour and book an appointment