Here we provide examples of some of the different ways people experience anxiety. They may help you decide if you feel you would describe yourself as high in anxiety. While some of what is described may seem familiar to you, we DO NOT expect you to share in all of the experiences we describe.
Distressing repetitive thoughts
Dave does full-time shift work as a taxi driver. He suffers from frequent negative thoughts about his four-year-old son being seriously hurt. He finds that he has to repeat safety words in response to these thoughts. He also has a number of phobias that cause him problems, including swimming and heights. He had a few sessions of CBT for his anxiety which helped a bit. He wishes he could have had more but it was not available at the time
Difficulties in social situations
Maria is a single parent to two boys. She describes herself as ‘painfully shy’ which meant that she had to give up her job as a cook in a junior school. She finds it hard to talk to new people and finds herself avoiding places where she will have to talk to strangers. Maria is starting to think that her shyness is getting in the way of her living her life as she would like to.
High levels of worry
Father of three Sanj often struggles with extreme worrying and tension. Most days he finds himself feeling very anxious about different things, including about his work as an office manager, and he struggles to control these feelings. He finds it difficult to get to sleep, can become irritable and sometimes finds it difficult to concentrate. He has never had any treatment for this.
Worries about being apart from family
Afua worries about bad things happening to her husband and daughter. Her fears mean she is very worried when her husband is at work and she has to check in with him frequently. She does not want to leave her 3-year old daughter with anyone else which means she has been unable to return to work as a teaching assistant. Afua is aware that her friends are less worried about bad things happening and she is thinking about going to see her GP.
Upsetting after-effects of attack
After being mugged in the street Mark has struggled with upsetting memories of the event. He no longer feels comfortable going out after dark and can become very upset when he sees something violent on the TV. Mark has continued to work as a practice nurse at a GP surgery near his home but finds himself becoming overwhelmed and angry. Mark has started seeing a counsellor.
Struggling with panic attacks
Kelly suffers from panic attacks which seem to come out of nowhere. When this happens, she feels like she is choking. Kelly works full time as a hospital theatre nurse but has become worried about having a panic attack while she is at work. She has started avoiding things which she thinks might trigger an attack, such as going out of the hospital to get food. She has never had any treatment.
Worries about health
Rachel works part-time as a university lecturer, but she sometimes finds herself unable to go into work because of her problems with worrying. She has become more and more concerned about her health, and is really worried that she is developing an illness which will mean she cannot take care of her twin daughters. Rachel takes medication for her anxiety, but it still causes her to become very upset at times.