What does anxiety look like?
Feelings of anxiety can be an everyday occurrence for many people, particularly if they are in unfamiliar or stressful situations. Regular feelings of anxiety can affect your quality of life, for example not applying for a job because you are nervous about doing so. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have an anxiety disorder, which can only be diagnosed by a doctor, but means you might be having a normal reaction to a stressful situation.
Intense feelings of anxiety which are disruptive to day-to-day life can be diagnosed as an anxiety disorder.
While anxiety is normal and a little bit of it is not harmful, living with anxiety all the time can have a big impact on your life. Being aware of the signs and symptoms of anxiety means you can get support to help you manage it. Being aware of and able to recognise the signs in anxiety in someone else can help you support them, or get them the help they need.
Being anxious can make you:
- find it difficult to concentrate
- feel like you don't want to do anything
- experience racing thoughts
- feel overwhelmed
- feel a sense of impending doom
Anxiety can also change how people behave, as feelings of worry or unease make it harder to enjoy things they usually do. People with anxiety may also turn to substances, or other unhealthy behaviours, to attempt to overcome or repress their feelings.
Some examples of how anxiety can change your behaviour:
If you notice sudden changes to someone’s personality or behaviour, then it may be helpful to have a check-in and make sure that everything is okay. A lot of people with anxiety suffer in silence, and may try and overcome it on their own because they do not want to be an inconvenience or burden on others. Sometimes, just reaching out is helpful and reassures them that they are not alone.
- Removing yourself from social situations
- Avoiding crowds or going outside the home
- Problems concentrating and focussing
- Not trying new things or pursuing opportunities for fear of rejection
- Not enjoying your leisure time
- Struggling to look after yourself
- Difficulty forming and maintaining healthy relationships
- Using alcohol, cigarettes, drugs or gambling to relieve it