Consultant Psychiatrist
Woman Psychiatrist | Child Psychiatrist | Adolescent Psychiatrist

Anxieties Panic Attacks and Phobias


What is anxiety?

Anxiety feels like fear. When it's caused by a problem in our life that can't be solved, like money difficulties, we call it worry. If is a sudden reaction to a threat, like looking over a cliff or being confronted by an angry dog, we call it fear.

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

You have the symptoms of anxiety most of the time.

  • Panic attacks
    You get unpredictable and intense attacks of anxiety - often in a situation that is likely to make you anxious. The feelings come on suddenly and reach a peak in 10 minutes or less. You may also feel:
    • That you are going to die
    • Frightened or 'going crazy' or losing control
    • Short of breath and that you are choking.
    About a quarter of people who go to an emergency department with chest pain thinking that they may be having a heart attack are in fact having a panic attack. Although the symptoms are much the same as those for GAD, they are much more powerful and only last a short time.
  • Phobia
    You feel really frightened of something that is not actually dangerous and which most people do not find troublesome. The nearer you get to the thing that makes you anxious, the more anxious you get ... and so you tend to avoid it. Away from it you feel fine. Common phobias include:
    • Agoraphobia - a fear of going where there are other people - which can stop you from leaving the house
    • Social phobias - a fear of being with other people - which can make it hard to talk to other people.

Are these problems common?

About 1 in every 10 people will have troublesome anxiety or phobias at some point in their lives. However, most people with these problems never ask for treatment.

What causes these kinds of anxiety?

  • Genes
  • Psychology
  • Trauma
  • Drugs
  • Mental health problems
  • Physical problems
  • Some or all the above ...

Getting help

If you have an anxiety problem which just won't go away, you may not ask for help because you worry that people might think that you are "mad". It's much better to get help as soon as you can rather than suffer in silence.

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
    Antidepressants can help to relieve anxiety, as well as the depression for which they are usually prescribed. They usually take 2 to 4 weeks and have to be taken regularly to work properly.

Free online CBT resources

  • Living Life to the Full: Free online life skills course for people feeling distressed and their carers. Helps you understand why you feel as you do and make changes in your thinking, activities, sleep and relationships.