Have you ever felt uncomfortable at a party, surrounded by people? Did you find it difficult to breathe and look for a reason to leave as soon as possible? Have you ever gone to a meeting several hours early because you were worried that something might happen during the trip and you wouldn't arrive on time? Have you ever worried so much about the future that you completely forgot to live in the present? This is what anxiety can look like.


Manifestations of anxiety are not emotionally pleasurable for humans - who would enjoy feeling fear and worrying about what is going to happen, or what might happen? Yet anxiety is statistically the most common mental illness, so this is exactly the feeling that many people deal with on a daily basis. The good news is that therapy can alleviate anxiety disorders very quickly.

What is anxiety, and how does it manifest itself?

Anxiety manifests as an unpleasant feeling of threat and tension, varying in intensity from mild unease to panic attacks. Anxious feelings can remind us of fear or stress, but there are differences.

Differences between fear/stress and anxiety

Short-term danger responseLong-term concern
Reaction to a specific thingFear of something indefinite
Fear/stress will eventually fade after the situation resolvesAnxiety can persist from a few seconds to several months
It is the body's natural defence that can help us in dangerous situationsIt is not a defence mechanism, it can develop into a mental illness

Symptoms of anxiety

Symptoms of anxiety start to appear when we are in a stressful and uncomfortable situation, but they can also occur without an obvious cause.

Symptoms may include

  • Sweating
  • Increased breathing rate and heart rate
  • Eating disorders
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Feelings of fainting
  • Tension in muscles
  • Tremors

These symptoms can be so unpleasant that we may try to escape them. Therefore, over time, we begin to avoid situations that might trigger anxiety.

We can avoid these situations:


  • This happens especially in the case of social phobia
    • we avoid social events, school or work if we have an important presentation, for example.
  • This self-isolation can significantly disrupt our social life and jeopardize our relationships.


  • Trying to free ourselves from unpleasant feelings, for example by using alcohol or other intoxicants.

It is okay to feel anxious at times; it is a natural reaction to life events such as an important test, a speech in front of a crowd, or a job interview. However, if we experience it repeatedly and it starts to affect our lives negatively, it is a good idea to work with a professional to see if it develops into a mental illness.

When does anxiety turn into a disorder?

  • If anxiety lasts too long
  • If the anxiety is too intense
  • If we experience anxiety in situations that would not normally be stressful for us
  • If anxious thoughts prevent us from functioning normally, at work...

What are the most common types of anxiety disorders?

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

A person is accompanied by a constant feeling that something is not right and that something will not go as they expect. It can be triggered by, among other things, long-term stress or difficult life events (leaving a job, a break-up, an accident and its associated limitations).

It is especially tricky in that it comes on creeping and gradually unravels a vicious circle of fears, worries and anxieties to which even critical reason later succumbs. At a critical moment, a person with this disorder fails to assess that the likelihood of the worst scenario he or she can imagine happening is slim. Instead, s/he devotes his attention to stressors and dwells on the question "What if?".

Anxiety Depressive Disorder

Whereas GAD is more about thoughts like "I'm worried because it's sure to end badly," anxiety-depressive disorder sounds something like "It's no use, I'm sure I won't make it again anyway." You correctly surmise that the worry slowly moves to the level of a sad mood that leads the person to a general decline.

Because this disorder is a combination of anxiety and depression, the person here is dealing with sadness, demotivation, hopelessness and mood swings. Feelings of guilt, constant self-blame, poor handling of criticism and low self-esteem are common.

How to deal with anxiety?

Techniques that focus on the body can help with mild anxiety. Various relaxation techniques can restore calmness to an upset body, alleviating even a tight mind and emotions.

  • Imagery
    • engaging your imagination. Imagine a safe place and offer your mind images in which you send your worries far away like a boat on a river. For anxiety is fear in disguise, and that fear is often in turn a fear of losing control. And it is the art of surrendering your worries that you can practice in this simple way.
  • Controlled breathing
    • try different breathing techniques. It is concentrating on our breathing that takes us away from anxious thoughts and helps calm the mind. This method is one of the quickest ways to relieve a sudden anxiety attack.
  • Meditation
    • Meditation helps us to focus on the present moment and notice our body. It can help us to let go of fears about the future and calm a busy mind.

The next step is to share our anxieties with someone else. A specialist, ideally a psychotherapist, who can help you comprehend the mechanics of anxiety while also providing support. You can communicate with a expert who specializes in your problems without leaving your house.

How is an anxiety disorder treated?

Most often, anxiety disorders are treated with psychotherapy, which can be supported by medication (usually antidepressants) depending on the severity of the disorder. Regular exercise, which helps relieve stress, getting enough sleep and a healthy diet also support treatment.
It is also advisable to rule out somatic illnesses in the first instance, which may have similar manifestations to anxiety disorders.

Find out whether you suffer from anxiety

If you experience symptoms, talk to your doctor or contact a psychologist or psychotherapist. You can also test yourself with a quick and reliable online test for anxiety.

The real story of a client with anxiety and how psychotherapy helped with that

“Studying medicine was my dream. When I finally got my first independent examination of the patient a few years later, I was nervous and made a completely trivial mistake. Of course, I was reprimanded by the chief physician and had to hear a comment from a colleague standing next to me. Sure, I could get over it and learn from my mistakes, I didn’t hurt anyone, and I was still studying at the time, but I couldn’t. I succumbed to the feeling that such mistakes would definitely happen again, and I would endanger someone’s life in the end. My worries were accompanied by a tightness in my chest, and gradually I was not even able to complete the mandatory practice sessions. That’s what brought me to psychotherapy. Now I know that punishing oneself indefinitely for the mistakes one naturally makes is nothing I want to continue to do. I’m learning to be kind to myself. And sometimes to just laugh about it all.”

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