Anxiety is a feeling we can get when our body responds to a frightening or threatening experience. It is sometimes called the 'fight or flight' response. It is simply the process of your body preparing for action, either to fight danger or run from it as fast as possible. The purpose of the physical symptoms of anxiety therefore is to prepare your body to cope with threat.

There are many reasons why someone becomes anxious:

  • some people may have an anxious personality and have 'learned to worry'
  • other people may have a series of stressful life events to cope with, eg bereavements, divorce, redundancy
  • some people may be under pressure at work or at home, for example, because of bills or family problems

Sometimes anxiety can go on indefinitely and become a long term problem. There can be a number of reasons for this:

  • sometimes people have ongoing stresses over a number of years, which means that they develop the habit of being anxious
  • It is possible for a vicious cycle of anxiety to develop. As the bodily symptoms of anxiety can be frightening, unpleasant and unusual, people often react by thinking that there is something physically wrong or that something really bad is going to happen. This in itself causes more symptoms and so the cycle develops

Anxiety as a problem can become hard to deal with when the symptoms are:

  • severe and unpleasant
  • going on for too long
  • happening too often
  • stopping someone from doing what they want to do
  • causing the person to worry that there is something seriously wrong

(Includes material taken from the Newcastle, Tyne and Wear self help leaflet on anxiety, included in

There are various orthodox and complementary approaches to helping people with anxiety.

Traditional Treatments for Anxiety