(See our pages on sleep problems, panic attacks and dissociative disorders for more information about these topics, and tips on how to cope.)
I could feel all these physical symptoms building inside me, literally filling every part of my body until I felt completely light-headed and disembodied.
Anxiety and physical health problems
Some studies suggest that experiencing anxiety could increase the risk of developing certain long-term physical health problems, including diabetes, stomach ulcers and heart problems. But there's not enough evidence to say for sure exactly what the risks are, or what groups of people are most likely to be affected. Having a physical illness or disability can also make you feel stressed and anxious, so it might sometimes feel like your anxiety problems and physical health problems are part of a vicious circle.
Sometimes it might be difficult to work out whether your symptoms are totally related to anxiety, or might be related to a different illness. If you're experiencing any physical symptoms it's best to talk to your GP, so they can check out what may be causing them.
I constantly thought I was dying of undiagnosed illnesses, because I was convinced that the physical symptoms were too bad to be ‘just anxiety’.
How else might anxiety affect my life?
Anxiety symptoms can last for a long time, or come and go. You might find you have difficulty with day-to-day aspects of your life, including:
- looking after yourself
- holding down a job
- forming or maintaining relationships
- trying new things
- simply enjoying your leisure time.
Read's Max's blog about the impact of social anxiety when he started University, and how he confronted it.
In some cases anxiety can have a serious impact on your ability to work. (See our pages on how to be mentally healthy at work for information on how to cope. Our legal pages on discrimination at work can provide information about your rights in the workplace.)
If you drive you may have to tell the DVLA that you have anxiety. (For information on your right to drive, including when and how to contact the DVLA, see our legal pages on fitness to drive.)
This information was published in September 2017 – to be revised in 2020. References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information see our page on permissions and licensing.