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Anxiety and panic attacks

Topics in this section:


Physical responses


dizziness or feeling faint, difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping, easily tired, restless, grumpy/irritable, tense


feeling like crying


dry mouth, difficulty breathing and short of breath, feeling of choking


tightness in chest and shoulders, heart beating fast, chest pain


sweating, chills or feeling hot


sick feeling in stomach, lump in stomach, needing to go to the toilet




Anxious thoughts

Anxious thoughts can make us feel even more anxious and can cause your body to respond in an anxious way.

Some common anxious thoughts include:

  • Thinking something really bad is going to happen
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Fear of dying or getting really sick
  • Negative thoughts like “I can’t do this”
  • Fear that panic attacks or anxiety are going to happen again
  • Thoughts about how you can avoid situations that make you anxious



Types of anxiety


Separation Anxiety

Worrying a lot when away from caregivers that something awful is going to happen to them or that they will die or you will be separated from them. You may feel like you don’t want to go out or be away from them in case something bad happens to them. You might even feel sick when they are away or say they are going away or tell them you are so they don’t go.


Phobias are when you get really really scared about a specific object or situation. These things make you feel really panicky every time you’re faced with them and get in the way of you living your life how you’d like. This could include things like:

  • Social situations where you feel you might be judged (like meeting people or having conversations with people you don’t know or having a meal with others)
  • heights
  • certain animals
  • getting injections
  • seeing blood
  • being out in the open
  • storms
  • water
  • closed spaces
  • elevators
  • in crowds or standing in line
  • being out of home by yourself
  • choking or vomiting

Generalized Anxiety This is when you are constantly worrying all the time about lots of different things and finding it hard to stop worrying and just chill. You might worry about how you are doing in school or at work, what’s going to happen the next day, “what if” this and that. Your worrying gets in the way of you living your life how you like to live it.

Obsessive compulsive disorder OCD is when you have recurrent persistent and unwanted thoughts or urges or image and also behaviours or mental acts that you have to do in order to get rid of those thoughts. This could include tapping, counting, cleaning, checking over things, or doing things in a specific order in order to stop the thoughts.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) PTSD can happen to some people after something traumatic has happened. This trauma could either have happened to you, you have witnessed it happening to someone else, or you heard about it happening to a close family member or friend. These traumatic events could include death or near death experience, serious injury or sexual violence. It includes memories of the traumatic event flooding back, distressing dreams about it or flashbacks where you feel like the traumatic event is happening all over again. You may be really jumpy, be irritable, and have trouble sleeping. You may also try to avoid anything that might remind you of the event. You might start to feel really low or guilty or bad about yourself.


How to cope with anxiety

Reset your physical response. Calming your body lets it know there is no actual danger and so it doesn't need to move into a stress response. You can do this by:

  • Doing some deep and slow breathing
  • Doing a meditation
  • Going for a walk
  • Having a cup of tea and a breather
  • Taking a shower or bath
  • Snuggling under a heavy blanket or wrapping yourself in covers

Reset your thoughts. As the body and the mind work closely together, if your mind is racing, it will calm down when your body gets calm and vice versa. You can do this by:

  • Writing or drawing in a journal
  • Watching TV, a dvd or Youtube clips
  • Going on social media and websites
  • Playing a puzzle or game online or on your phone
  • Read a book or magazine
  • Plan and organize the space you’re in or upcoming occasions
  • Doing other things you enjoy doing

Talk to someone about how you are feeling. Often getting some support and understanding, or even just a hug or some company can really help. Think about who is in your life who you can hang out with and cares about you.

Seek professional support. If your anxiety is feeling unmanageable, you feel like you need new strategies to deal with it or it's getting in the way of living your life how you would like, then talking to a professional can be really useful. Check out our "Getting Help" section for more info.


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