Anxious thoughts and feelings are a normal response to stressful situations. However, anxiety is abnormal if it occurs out of proportion to the stress within a situation or often when there is no apparent reason.
This often has a significant impact on day-to-day living.
Anxiety disorders include generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias, and panic disorder.
About 1 in 20 people in the UK suffer with an anxiety disorder at any specific time.
Anxiety can affect the body in a number of ways and each person may experience anxiety very differently. Common symptoms include:
- A sense of fear or dread;
- A feeling of being detached from or outside one’s body;
- Poor concentration and ‘fogginess’ of thought;
- Sleep disturbance and fatigue;
- Muscle tension;
- Palpitations and/or chest pain;
- Shaking (tremor);
- Dry mouth;
- Nausea and diarrhoea.
Many factors contribute to the development of anxiety disorders including both genetic and environmental factors. The following have been shown to increase the risk of developing an anxiety disorder:
- Family history of anxiety and other psychiatric disorders;
- Female Sex;
- Childhood adversity;
- Chronic illness;
- Environmental stressors including trauma (physical or emotional), unemployment, and low socioeconomic status.
Anxiety is diagnosed from speaking to a patient to understand their symptoms in full, however other conditions may mimic anxiety and it is important to rule these out with further tests if suspected.
Questionnaires are a commonly used tool to aid making a diagnosis. They are also useful in monitoring response to treatment.
The treatment options are dependent on which anxiety disorder(s) a person experiences and how severely they are affected.
Simple approaches; including exercise, relaxation techniques, improved sleep hygiene, identifying and removing stressors, and spending time with natural support groups (family and friends), can improve symptoms and reduce the impact on quality of life.
Some patients will also benefit from an element of psychological therapy, including counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), or exposure therapy.
Medical management primarily involves the use of anti-depressants (e.g. sertraline, fluoxetine) and benzodiazepines (e.g. diazepam). Beta-blockers (e.g. propranolol) can sometimes be useful for controlling symptoms experienced with panic attacks.
Medicinal cannabis can be considered when first line therapies have not achieved adequate benefit.
Arrange a Referral
At Sapphire London we operate on a doctor to doctor referral basis. We accept referrals from GP’s and consultants. This is to ensure that the patient’s condition has been fully assessed by a qualified physician and all other treatment options have been attempted.
For doctors to refer a patient to us, please click here to fill and securely submit a referral form.