GAD is when worry starts interfering with daily life. You may find that you are worrying a lot about the future and going through ‘what if’ scenarios in your head. This could mean you avoid certain situations because you are worried they might go badly.

Other signs and symptoms can include:

  • Feeling nervous, anxious or on edge
  • Feeling restless
  • Finding it hard to relax and switch off
  • A sense of dread – a fear that something bad could happen

Social anxiety can mean you feel afraid in social situations and worry a lot about what other people think of you. Because of this, you may spend time thinking about how you are presenting yourself and worry that you could be doing something embarrassing in public. You might worry that you are blushing or are hot and sweaty. After social situations, you may re-play what happened in your head and feel anxious. Because of this you can start to avoid seeing others, especially new people.

OCD is an anxiety disorder which can also make you feel down and stressed. We can all have unwanted thoughts which pop into our mind, like a worry we haven’t locked the door or a fear we could contract a disease from touching something. However, in OCD these intrusive thoughts can become obsessive – we can’t stop thinking about them and they interrupt our daily life.

Common obsessive thoughts can include:

  • A need for order and symmetry – you need everything to be ‘just right’.
  • A fear you could deliberately harm yourself or someone else – even though you don’t want to. This could also be a fear that you will sexually assault another adult or a child.
  • A fear you could harm yourself or others by accident, for example if you left the cooker on and it started a fire.
  • A fear of contamination to yourself or a loved one by a disease, an infection or another substance.

Compulsions are actions you carry to try and deal with the obsessive thoughts. For example, hand washing, checking something repeatedly such as the oven, cleaning excessively, or avoiding certain situations like using public toilets or visiting the GP. Some of these behaviours may be carried out internally as well, like counting to a certain number in your head. You can spend a lot of time doing these actions and they can restrict you and what you’re able to do.

Panic attacks are a rush of psychological and physical symptoms. They are scary and often unexpected. When you have a panic attack you can feel dizzy, sweaty, sick, find it hard to breathe or feel like you’re choking. You may also experience an increased heart rate, and chest pain. These physical sensations make you feel as though something awful is happening, like you’re having a heart attack, or you might also be afraid that you could die. The actual situation is not a threat but your body may deal with it as though it is harmful. As a consequence of panic attacks you might start avoiding certain situations where you have had a panic attack, like busy places, or you may develop ‘safety behaviours’. These behaviours are things you do to help you feel safe, such as always having a bottle of water with you, but actually keep the problem going.

Health anxiety is a reoccurring fear that you have a serious illness even though you are healthy. When you notice differences in your body, this may be used to support your thoughts. Common anxieties involve a fear that you have HIV/AIDS, cancer and Parkinson’s disease. A significant amount of time may be spent researching illnesses and checking your symptoms. This anxiety can interfere with daily life, for example, relationships can become tense.


If you recognise any of the signs of the mental health difficulties on this page or on any of the problems listed on the “problems we can help with” pages, then we may be able to help.