Signs this might be a problem:
You often feel fear or worry
Your mind often races, so you can’t think straight
You often can’t concentrate because of worry or fear
You often feel on edge or nervous
You sometimes panic or get upset easily when nervous
What is an anxiety disorder?
Everyone feels anxious sometimes – worried or afraid of something happening, or obsessed about something happening in a certain way. When that fear or anxiety becomes something that gets in the way of your life (school or work, relationships, ability to enjoy things or cope), doesn’t go away and causes you distress, that is when it could be a more serious anxiety disorder.
Wanting to avoid or run away from things we’re worried about, or afraid of, is normal – it’s a reaction that has developed over the course of evolution and helps us respond to life threatening situations. Having an anxiety disorder means that this response is causing you more problems than good. Around 15% of young people have anxiety disorders, with most having their first symptoms before the age of 15.
Causes of anxiety disorders
Some of the causes of an anxiety disorder are:
A history of anxiety within your family.
Biochemical – one theory is that it’s caused by an imbalance of the chemicals in the brain that regulate feelings and physical reactions. It can alter your thoughts, emotions or behaviour and result in anxiety.
A stressful event or chain of events such as a family break-up, abuse, ongoing bullying at school, sexual abuse, a death, a relationship break up, family conflict can be stressful and lead to increased anxiety that sticks around.
Signs and symptoms of anxiety
It's also common for people to feel:
Extreme fear or worry (about past, or future things)
Like their mind is racing and they can't think straight
Like they can’t concentrate on or remember things
Impatient like things are too slow, or confused
On edge, like something is about to happen, or nervous
Like they can’t sleep or sleeping badly (sometimes really weird dreams)
Physical signs sometimes also include:
Heart pounding, tight chest or chest pain, or blushing or feeling hot
Fast, shallow breathing – feeling short of breath
Dizzy, headache, sweaty, tingly, numb
Harder to swallow, dry mouth, stomach pain
You may experience just a few of these, or many more than that - it's different for everyone.
Types of anxiety disorders What you can do if you think you might have an anxiety disorder
If you think you are having problems with anxiety,
you can try a few things that might help you relax
There are a number of
treatments for the different anxiety disorders
. If you’re worried you might have an anxiety problem, an expert will be able to help you figure out what’s going on. They are also best placed to let you know what you can do to manage or overcome it.
It might be a good idea to look at the related links on different types of anxiety disorders, and then arrange to see a doctor. They should be able to tell you about the different options available and let you know what the best approach is for you. It can be hard to know where to find the right support you need.
is an anonymous online tool that recommends relevant support options based on what you want help with. Try
to learn about the support options available for you.
Managing an anxiety disorder can take time and there may be good and bad days, but dealing with, or even overcoming, an anxiety disorder is definitely possible.
If you want to hear from others, watch this 3 minute video about young people coping with feeling stressed, anxious, worried or down.