It’s normal to feel anxious and to worry sometimes. But if your worries don’t stop and begin to feel overwhelming, it’s time to get some help.
Lots of things can make you feel anxious and nervous, like pressure from school, revision and exam stress. Even just being out with friends, or thinking about going out. A bit of anxiety can help you deal with difficult times, and it can help you perform better, for example in exams. But once the difficult situation is over, you should feel better and calm down. If the problem has gone but the feeling of fear and panic stays or even gets stronger, that’s when anxiety can become a problem and can really affect your everyday life.
The symptoms of anxiety start out the same as just feeling generally anxious but get worse or last longer than they should. The symptoms include:
- Feeling frightened, nervous or panicky
- Getting down or depressed
- Difficulty sleeping
- Low appetite
- Lack of concentration
- Tired and irritable
- Palpitations – when your heart feels like it’s racing
- Dry mouth
- Feeling faint
- Stomach cramps and/or diarrhoea
Feeling one, some or even most of the above doesn’t necessarily mean you have an anxiety disorder. It’s important to talk to your GP to get a full diagnosis.
Sometimes people who have anxiety can develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This means you may have obsessive thoughts or worries and you may feel the need to repeat rituals, such as washing your hands or touching specific objects a certain number of times.
All of the physical symptoms and anxious thoughts can be helped by relaxation but this needs
- Sleep well and eat well
- Balance your life, for example work/study, play, exercise, build friendships, sleep
- Accept your thoughts and feelings. Let them come and run through you. Do not judge them
- Do not fight the feelings of panic, go with them, they will disappear much more quickly
- Relax your tense muscles. Drop your shoulders, loosen your jaw, feel yourself relaxing
- Watch your breathing. When anxious, your breathing is likely to increase (It might even make you feel dizzy or give you a tight feeling in your throat. Breathe slowly in through your nose for a count of four and out through your mouth for a count of five)
- Practice positive self-talk., for example ‘I can be calm’, ‘I am going to pass’, ‘I will succeed’.
Go to the ‘Looking after yourself’ section of this site for more self-care tips.
- If you are in an emergency and there is risk to life (yours or someone else’s) call 999
- If you are in crisis call Childline free on 0800 1111 or visit childline.org.uk/get-support/
Schools employ a variety of people to look after your wellbeing. Some of the titles of these staff may vary in your school but you will be able to find out about them from a teacher. Most schools have a nurse who will either have a drop-in clinic or you can make an appointment to see them.
GP – you can make an appointment to visit your doctor or a nurse at the surgery to talk about any worries or concerns you have. Call your GP surgery to speak to the receptionist or go there in person. The receptionist will probably ask you who the appointment is for and why; this is to make sure that you see the right person at the right time. You don’t have to tell them why – you can just say it’s for something personal if you like.
If you think you’ll might have difficulty discussing your mental health with your GP, you can find advice about how to prepare How to Talk to Your GP About Mental Health
South Gloucestershire Talking Therapies – free support for people aged 16 and over. 0117 378 4270. www.iapt-sglos.awp.nhs.uk/
South Gloucestershire Anxiety Toolkit – a set of resources for children and young people, parents/carers and professionals with information on understanding and managing fears and anxieties: www.southglos.gov.uk/anxiety
Young people’s drug & alcohol service – free support and advice. Call 01454 866000 or email email@example.com.
Network Counselling – for ages 11 and up. Call 01179507271 or visit www.network.org.uk (contribution required).
The Bridge Foundation – individual and family counselling, call 0117 9424510 or visit www.bridgefoundation.org.uk (charges apply).
Relate Avon – relationship counselling services available for young people aged 10-18. Call 0117 9428444 or visit www.relate-avon.org.uk(charges apply).
ChildLine – free helpline for children and young people to talk about any problem 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 0800 1111 www.childline.org.uk
Get self-help – free online cognitive behavioural therpapy (CBT) resources www.getselfhelp.co.uk
The Mix is the UK’s leading support service for young people. Here to help you take on any challenge you’re facing – from mental health to money, from homelessness to finding a job, from break-ups to drugs. Talk via online, social or the free, confidential helpline. Telephone and email support for under 25’s. Freephone 0808 808 4994 (1pm-11pm), Crisis Messenger 85258, www.themix.org.uk
Mental Health Foundation – UK charity helping people to access information about the steps they can take to look after their own mental health. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/a/anxiety
NHS Choices – website where you can find information about a range of mental health conditions and search for local services. Children’s Anxiety: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/anxiety-children/pages/introduction.aspx
OCD Youth aims to increase awareness and access to support for anyone under 25 affected by
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. OCD Youth is run by young people with OCD, for young people
with OCD. http://ocdyouth.org/about/
SAM is a free phone app to help you understand and manage anxiety. The app has been developed in collaboration with a research team from UWE, Bristol. http://sam-app.org.uk/
Samaritans – 116 123 – Free national helpline that can be used at any time you like to discuss issues affecting you. You don’t have to be suicidal. There is also a Bristol Branch available on 0117 9831000. www.samaritans.org/branches/bristol-samaritans
Kooth – Free, safe and anonymous online counselling support for young people aged 11-18yrs olds.
‘Your Brain on Stress and Anxiety’ video (5 mins) for older young people https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmwiJ6ghLIM
Talking about anxiety – lots of people giving their experiences; vlogger NinkComPoop (KS3
upwards – 20 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pb0FI2ZHavo
In her Vlog, Zoella talks about how she suffers from anxiety and how she has been helped by professionals as well as learning techniques to manage her condition. http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=zoella+on+panic+attacks&view=detail&mid=050024706E31AE950A41050024706E31AE950A41&FORM=VIRE
Shelf Help – a list of recommended books to help young people deal with a range of issues, available in all libraries.
Books to look out for:
- A Boy and a Bear – The Children’s Relaxation Book by Lori Lite,
- Cool Cats, Calm Kids: Relaxation and Stress Management for Young People by Mary l Williams
- Indigo Dreams (Audio CD) by Lori Lite,
- My Anxious Mind by Michael Tompkins and Katherine Martinez
- The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens by Jennifer Shannon
- Stress Free Kids – Starving the Anxiety Gremlin: A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook on Anxiety Management for Young People by Kate Collins-Donnelly,
- Sweet Dreams and Monsters by Peter Mayle,
- The Anxiety Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal With Anxiety & Worry by Lisa M.
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook for Teens by Jennifer Shannon