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Feeling worried, nervous or anxious is a completely normal part of everyday life. Everyone will feel worried at some point, from example worried about exams, doing something new, relationships, health, the future etc. Worry and anxiety can be the brain’s way of motivating us to make a change or to keep us safe. For example anxiety is a part of our ‘fight-flight-freeze’ response, which is our survival instinct.

However, if anxiety starts to get on top of you, then it can affect your mental health. When worries feel overwhelming and anxiety won’t go away it can affect how we feel and react. Anxiety can sometimes make us want to avoid going to school, talking to people or things we might perceive to be scary or embarrassing. However, we know that the more we avoid things the bigger the worry becomes.

Anxiety can also have an impact on our body’s reaction. You may have:

  • overwhelming fear
  • nervousness
  • trembles or shakes
  • tummy aches
  • a racing heart
  • a tight chest
  • panic attacks
  • problems with sleeping
  • weight loss
  • breathing difficulties
  • difficulties concentrating
  • a short temper

There are plenty of other symptoms too.These physical symptoms are safe (part of our adrenaline response) but can be really scary if we don’t know why we are having these changes in our body. Sometimes people can become anxious about these physical symptoms, worrying there might be something bad happening. This is called a panic attack.

Anxiety happens for different reasons and in lots of situations. It can feel random, but you may also spot themes. So going to a party or being in a crowded place may make you feel super anxious. You might even get anxious just thinking about social situations and then start avoiding them altogether.

Who it affects and how often?

Research suggests that as many as 1 in 10 young people in the UK will experience an anxiety condition at some point in their lives. People who experience anxiety can commonly also experience low mood/depression and/or other anxiety difficulties.

What helps?

There are things you can do to help with these types of thoughts or feelings such as:

  • Speaking to someone you trust and who cares about you, letting them know how you are feeling. You might not always know why you are feeling this way, but knowing someone is aware and understands can help.
  • If there are worries you can do something about, problems solve what needs to be done, schedule it into your diary and then ask someone to help you do it.
  • If there are worries you cannot sort out straight away then distraction is a good technique, e.g. exercise, listing to music, getting out in nature etc.
  • Mindfulness can be helpful to not get caught up with feelings and thoughts.
  • Breathing exercises to help with slowing down your heart rate when feeling anxious Try laying or sitting in a quiet distraction free room, closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing, try taking slow breaths, breathing in for a count of four and breathing out to the count of four.
  • Download some ‘self-help’ apps for more advice
  • Trying to face your fears in small and manageable ways, and if you can gradually work up to facing bigger fears, so you build your confidence and the worry gets smaller,

What Can CAMHS to do help?

Meeting with a CAMHS worker they can:

  • Complete an assessment with you about your anxiety, helping you and your parents understand where it might have come from, what keeps it going and what might help.
  • Help by offering advice about how to manage, e.g. sign posting to information or services.
  • Helping your parents and teachers understand you better and help them make things better for you to take the pressure off.
  • Offer therapy if appropriate. The therapy that we often recommend for anxiety is called cognitive behavioural therapy, which involves making changes to the ways be thinking, behave and react to help us cope better and feel more resilient. We also offer family therapy if there are difficulties in family relationships that are causing anxiety.
  • Sometimes we might consider some medication if you’re feeling low and anxious.