Anxiety: The reaction we get in threatening or fearful situations, which is experienced as negative thoughts, physical sensations in the body, worry feelings and behaviours to avoid the distressing situation.


Anxiety is a normal physical response that makes our body react in a certain way when it feels under threat or in danger. You might have heard of the fight or flight response. This means that our bodies are preparing to either fight the threat, or get away from it, and we experience it as:

  • Heart beating fast
  • Sweaty hands
  • Shivering or shaking
  • Feeling sick or butterflies in the tummy
  • Hard to breathe
  • Jelly legs
  • Headache
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Dry mouth

You might also feel on edge, restless, and thoughts may start racing in your mind. You might avoid things, places or experiences that might trigger the anxiety.

If there is a real danger, such as a busy road with lots of cars, this reaction is useful. However, if it starts to get in the way of you doing things you want to do, then anxiety can be a real problem.

Anxiety can present itself in different ways, and is also linked with other difficulties such as OCD and PTSD. In CAMHS, anxiety usually looks like:

  • Generalised Anxiety - feeling anxious or worried about lots of things or situations rather than something specific.
  • Panic - a sudden unexpected feeling of overwhelming anxiety that will make you want to escape from the situation you are in.
  • Phobia - an irrational fear of a specific thing, activity, or situation, that can't really cause you any harm, such as the dark.

Sometimes people experience anxiety symptoms following a scary or traumatic event.

In CAMHS, we have a range of ways that we can help you to manage your anxiety.

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