Lightning strike

Anxiety & Panic Attacks

Anxiety is not an illness that you either have or do not have – everyone has felt anxious.
It is perfectly normal at times like a job interview or going to the dentist.  But anxiety is a problem when you have it a lot and it is there in situations that should not really be scary.

Sometimes anxiety problems are experienced in a specific way and are recognised as a particular anxiety condition.

Two of the most common anxiety conditions are:

  • Free floating or Generalised Anxiety, and
  • Panic attacks

Generalised Anxiety

For some people, anxiety problems mean that they feel tense and anxious most of the time. People who experience this free-floating anxiety find it impossible to relax. They describe experiencing the effects of anxiety:

in their body (e.g. heart racing, sweating, tingling or numbness)

in their emotions (e.g. feeling frightened or on edge), and

in their ability to think clearly (e.g. poor concentration and/or forgetting things)

for much of the time. They may also experience panic attacks.

Panic Attacks

It is normal to feel panicky from time to time. A panic attack is a bit like "normal panic" but the feelings come on suddenly, are not related to frightening situations and can be a lot stronger. People often feel that something terrible is about to happen and have physical sensations, such as breathlessness and palpitations.

For more information about Generalised Anxiety and Panic Attacks, see further resources on the right.

The Centre for Clinical Interventions provide a free self help module - Coping with Panic.