What is Anxiety?

Male anxiety

Anxiety is a normal human emotion that has developed as a defence mechanism, forming part of the “flight of fight” means of avoiding danger. When a person perceives themselves to be in danger, the body prepares to defend itself by increasing the heart rate and the level of adrenaline - causing us to feel hyper-aware of our surroundings. It is usual for people to feel anxious when they are about to embark on something that is frightening or is important to them, like a job interview or an exam. In most cases, we are aware of the causes of anxiety and manage to control its effects - utilising its benefits to our advantage. At other times, however, people feel anxious for little or no reason and have little or no control over the symptoms.

When a person is no longer able to control the symptoms of anxiety it can be described as a disorder. There are several types of anxiety disorder including

Women suffering from anxiety
  • Panic disorder - where an individual has a sudden feeling of terror, repeatedly and without warning. This can result in panic attacks.
  • Social anxiety disorder - also called social phobia; someone feels self-conscious and worries excessively for no reason.
  • Specific phobias - including animals (spiders, snakes, birds), small spaces, going outside, situations and objects that cause high levels of anxiety.

Signs and Symptoms


  • Increased heart rate
  • Palpitations
  • Tightness of limbs
  • Shaking limbs
  • Pins and Needles (Hands and Feet)
  • Rapid or Labour Breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Tightness in chest
  • Headaches
  • Hot flushes
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Shaking
  • Excessive use of the toilet

Impact on the family

Depending on the severity, anxiety disorders can be very debilitating to the individual and have a negative effect on the family. By definition, the fear caused by anxiety and phobias can be very isolating with the individual often avoiding situations they find stressful. This may result in frequent cancellations from the activities, in very short notice, with little explanation. Extended family and neighbours may also misinterpret this behaviour and view it as unusual or bizarre, which may be a cause of embarrassment to the person or their family.

Emotional or psychological

  • Disproportionate emotional response
  • Hyper vigilant, overly alert
  • Lack of control/losing control
  • Irrational concern about physical health, (heart attack, brain tumour)
  • Perceptual changes. (feeling time is slowing/speeding up)
  • Looking to run away from the situation
Girl with Anxiety

How can we help?

The Practice MK offers Counselling and Psychotherapy, often called Talking Therapies to help individuals and their families to make sense of what is often a confusing and frightening experience. Therapy sessions are delivered by trained and experienced practitioners who will provide the opportunity to discuss issues in a safe, understanding and supportive environment.

Individuals and their therapist may wish to discuss current or past issue affecting them, feelings they have around these issues and how these issues affect them and those around them. During sessions, individuals and therapists will look at coping strategies and methods to ensure positive outcomes for all concerned.

All our counsellors and therapists are accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)


If you or someone you know may be suffering from anxiety, drop us an email or telephone call and we can talk to you more about the services we provide.

The Practice MK