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When is anxiety a problem?

This years #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek is focussing upon #anxiety. Something I have spent a lot of the last decade learning about; helping others manage through the therapies I offer and delivering workshops on.

Anxiety is something which few of us will ever completely escape. For some, it is the fluttering in the belly before a big date, for others its the breathlessness felt before public speaking but for some it is the all encompassing feeling of dread they feel upon waking up.

Anxiety varies for all of us and for some, it is all consuming.

So when does anxiety move from an entirely normal feeling, of apprehension and even dread for a novel situation, to something that is seen as a problem?

The difficulty we have when discussing mental health is that it is subjective, my experiences cannot be entirely compared to yours. We are also decades behind when talking about mental health compared to our physical health. If I bumped into a friend and told them I was suffering with a 'bad stomach' and they had a bad stomach too, it is unlikely (unless we had eaten together) that we would assume we were experiencing the same bad stomach. My bad stomach could be because of something I ate, whereas theirs could be due to a chronic condition - same generic label, very different experiences.

However, when we discuss mental health, we often assume that our experience is the same as someone else's who also describes having the same condition. This is not usually a helpful assumption.

When we consider anxiety, it can cause a huge range of physical, psychological and behavioural changes so it is possible we could experience it differently to someone else. Because of this, it is not always easy to recognise when anxiety has become a problem.

However, as a rule of thumb, we would say that if your anxiety is:

  • Severe to you

  • Long Lasting

  • Impacting your relationships and enjoyment of life

Then it is likely you are suffering from anxiety rather than experiencing an anxious period.

If you believe this to be the case, please seek some help today of course you can reach out to your GP but there are also other resources which can help such as:

•Anxiety UK –

•No Panic –

•OCD Action –

•Employee Assistance Programme - Does your employer have such a thing? If so, you are often able to receive some confidential telephone based counselling sessions.

I will be offering blogs sharing tools and techniques to help anxiety over the next week or you can purchase a copy of my book "Interrupting Anxiety" from Amazon now.

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