Information Centre

What is anxiety?


Anxiety is a feeling everyone experiences at some stage. It can be a normal emotional response to stressful situations.

Anxiety can help us prepare for challenges, like starting a new job, giving a presentation, or worrying about an awkward social occasion.

What causes anxiety?

What makes one person anxious may not create the same response in someone else.A break-up, concern about school or work, or a fight with a partner or a family member can make you feel anxious, worried or scared.While anxiety is an everyday feeling, it can become a problem when there is no obvious reason for that anxiety, or when anxious feelings persist for more than a couple of weeks.

How can anxiety affect you?

Taken on their own, individual symptoms of anxiety are things we all experience from time-to-time.However, if you’re experiencing more than one of the following, over a couple of weeks or longer, you may need some extra support.

Physical effects of anxiety

  • dry mouth and/or difficulty swallowing
  • nightmares
  • difficulty getting to and staying asleep
  • poor concentration
  • muscle tension and headaches
  • rapid heart rate and breathing
  • sweating or trembling
  • diarrhoea
  • flare-up of another health problem or illness (e.g. dermatitis, asthma)
  • sexual problems, such as not having any sexual feelings or being interested in sex.

Psychological effects of anxiety

Some common ways anxiety can affect your behaviour and feelings include:

  • irritability or constantly being in a bad mood
  • worry or constantly feeling that something bad is about to happen
  • asking many unnecessary questions and requiring constant reassurance
  • being a perfectionist
  • being pessimistic and easily able to identify what may go wrong in any given situation.

Dealing with anxiety

From eating and exercise to examining our self-talk, there are lots of things we can do to help reduce our anxiety. If you’re feeling so anxious that it’s impacting on your day-to-day life, you might need some extra support. See articles on support from family and friends, peer support and professional support to see who you can talk to if you decide you want outside help. Or you can check out Turn2me’s free, confidential, online counselling, peer support and support groups directly. Read more articles about anxiety and supports available.