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Anxiety & Phobias

Anxiety disorders are quite common, affecting about 5% of the population at any one time, but many people do not seek help. Anxiety and fear are normal human emotions and are often found as reactions to stress. However, normal anxiety becomes abnormal when the symptoms are so intense that people are stopped from coping well with day-to-day activities because they are so painful and distressing. Abnormal fears, sometimes called phobias, are intense fears of things that would not make the average person frightened.

People who suffer from abnormal anxiety find it difficult to concentrate, tend to sleep badly and get tired easily. The body shows the effects of anxiety by increased heart rates, tension and pain in muscles, inability to relax, sweating, over breathing, dizziness, faintness and bowel disturbances. Sudden unexpected surges of anxiety are called panic attacks. Someone who has a phobia has symptoms of intense anxiety or panic but only in particular situations. Phobias lead to avoidance of the things that are feared.


Talking about the problem to trusted friends and relatives often helps and may give a sense of perspective. Most of us tend to avoid stressful situations, but in the case of anxiety disorders it tends to make the situation worse due to the fear it induces. However, more intensive talking treatments may be required such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy [CBT]. This helps people to recognise, understand and manage anxiety. Learning to relax with advice from professionals or by using tape cassettes or books can help to bring tensions and anxieties under control. Medication such as tranquillisers or anti-depressants may be used to help ease anxiety during the day or help sleep at night.

 For more information contact the National Phobic Society



2016 Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

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