Anxiety is what we feel when we are worried, tense, or afraid, in particular about things that have happened in the past or things that may happen in the future. It can be experienced through our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations and is a natural human response when we feel we are under threat. We don’t always know what the trigger is, and this can initiate a cycle of worry and fear and make our anxiety worse.

Just some of the effects that anxiety can have are listed below. 

Thinking Man on Couch

“For me, anxiety feels as if everyone in the world is waiting for me to trip up, so that they can laugh at me. It makes me feel nervous and unsure whether the next step I take is the best way forward”


  • a churning feeling in your stomach

  • feeling light-headed or dizzy

  • pins and needles

  • feeling restless or unable to sit still

  • headaches, backache or other aches and pains

  • faster breathing

  • a fast, thumping or irregular heartbeat

  • sweating or hot flushes

  • problems sleeping

  • grinding your teeth, especially at night

  • nausea (feeling sick)

  • needing the toilet more or less often

  • changes in your sex drive

  • having panic attacks.

"I constantly thought I was dying of undiagnosed illnesses, because I was convinced that the physical symptoms were too bad to be 'just anxiety'."

 Young Woman Contemplating


  • feeling tense, nervous or unable to relax

  • having a sense of dread, or fearing the worst

  • feeling like the world is speeding up or slowing down

  • feeling like other people can see you're anxious and are looking at you

  • feeling like you can't stop worrying, or that bad things will happen if you stop worrying

  • worrying about anxiety itself, for example worrying about when panic attacks might happen

  • wanting lots of reassurance from other people or worrying that people are angry or upset with you

  • worrying that you're losing touch with reality

  • rumination – thinking a lot about bad experiences, or thinking over a situation again and again

  • depersonalisation – feeling disconnected from your mind or body, or like you're watching someone else (this is a type of dissociation)

  • derealisation – feeling disconnected from the world around you, or like the world isn't real (this is a type of dissociation)

  • worrying a lot about things that might happen in the future

Thinking Man

“It is like a constant feeling of being unsettled. I have been unable to enjoy the here and now and I completely overthink anything and everything.”


Anxiety symptoms can last for a long time, or come and go. You might find you have difficulty with day-to-day aspects of your life, including:

  • looking after yourself

  • holding down a job

  • forming or maintaining relationships

  • trying new things

  • simply enjoying your leisure time

  • being there for your friends and family