MANY people are affected by Anxiety Disorder (AD), which is said to be a silent pain that has its grip on so many in society. According to consulting hypnotherapist Petra Nicol, occasional anxiety is normal for most people. However, people with AD frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worries and fears about everyday situations. “For some, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of unexpected feelings of intense anxiety and fear, terror that can reach a peak within minutes, known as panic attacks, which are sometimes so severe that the person fears that they are having a heart attack,” she explained.“These feelings of anxiety and panic can severely interfere with daily life and can be difficult to control. “They are usually out of proportion to the actual problem or danger. It may lead to the person avoiding certain places, even situations to try to prevent this feeling of loss of control,” she further explained.She added that it may stop a person from continuing to do the things they used to enjoy, even those tasks that the person is required to do for work, which also leads to a poor quality of life. Frequent panic attacks can also cause a person to fear the anxiety attacks themselves, thus increasing the anxiety: “The constant state of stress can even lead to clinical depression. It’s quite common to experience a combination of the two.” “Whichever form of anxiety you have, there is hope. You just have to be able to recognise that you need help, and then seek it because you are worth it,” she said.COMMON ANXIETY SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS • Feeling nervous, restless or tense• Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom• Having an increased heart rate & even chest pain• Rapid breathing• Sweating• Trembling / feeling weak or tired• Trouble thinking beyond the present worry• Struggling to sleep• Unable to control the worry• Desperately wanting to avoid things that may trigger the anxietyHOW YOU CAN HELP YOURSELF• Stay active — push yourself to take part in healthy activities that you enjoy, especially if they make you feel good about yourself. Encourage social interaction and nurture caring relationships.• Avoid alcohol or drug use — alcohol and drug use can cause or worsen AD. If you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol, the idea of quitting can also make you anxious. If you struggle to quit on your own, see your doctor or find an appropriate therapist or support group to help you.GET PROFESSIONAL HELP IF• Your worrying is interfering with your work, relationships or other parts of your life• You find the fear, worry or anxiety difficult to control• You feel depressed, have trouble with alcohol or drugs, or have other mental health concerns as well as anxiety• You think your anxiety could be linked to a physical health problem• You have suicidal thoughts or behavioursVisit TherapyRoute.com to find counsellors, psychologists, social workers, community clinics, and other mental health professionals and services.