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Anxiety, worry, fear and panic

Is your life or someone else’s life in danger? 

If you have seriously harmed yourself or you feel that you may be about to harm yourself, call 999 for an ambulance or go straight to A&E. Or, if you are unable, ask someone else to call 999 or take you to A&E.
Are you experiencing a mental health crisis?

If you need help urgently, but it's not a life-threatening emergency contact the First Response Service (FRS) by dialling 111 and choosing option 2.

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, dread, fear or unease.  It is common and is something everyone experiences at some time.  Feeling anxious is a natural reaction to some situations and can actually be helpful.  For example, anxiety can help us to focus or take extra care when needed.

However, if anxiety gets too much or goes on for too long it can become overwhelming and interfere with your daily life and affect your relationships. 

Many different situations and life experiences can cause anxiety and how anxiety affects us is a very personal experience.  Sometimes there are no obvious triggers and it can be difficult to know what is causing your anxiety.

Anxiety can cause a variety of symptoms.

Symptoms of the mind include: 

  • feeling tense
  • feeling nervous
  • being unable to relax
  • worrying about the past or future
  • feeling tearful
  • not being able to sleep
  • difficulty concentrating
  • fear the worst might happen
  • intrusive memories
  • obsessive thoughts

Physical symptoms include:

  • racing heart
  • feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • headaches
  • chest pains
  • loss of appetite
  • sweating
  • breathlessness
  • feeling hot
  • shaking
  • butterflies in the tummy 

Changes in behaviour include:

  • not being able to enjoy your leisure time
  • difficulty looking after yourself
  • struggling to form or maintain relationships
  • worrying about trying new things
  • avoiding places and situations that create anxiety
  • compulsive behaviour, such as constantly checking things

Sudden, intense anxiety and fear might be a panic attack.

Other symptoms may include:

  • a racing heart
  • feeling faint, dizzy or lightheaded
  • feeling that you’re losing control
  • sweating, trembling or shaking
  • shortness of breath or breathing very quickly
  • a tingling in your fingers or lips
  • feeling sick
Panic attacks usually only last a few  minutes. They can be frightening, but they're not dangerous and should not harm you.

Luckily there are lots of things you can try that may help with anxiety.

Search NHS Better Health “Every Mind Matters”

Here you will find expert advice, practical tips, and plenty of help and support if you’re stressed, anxious, low or struggling to sleep.

Shift your focus

Some people find mindfulness and meditation (including breathing exercises and relaxation) help to calm anxiety and reduce tension by focussing awareness on the present moment. Try these NHS-recommended relaxation exercises

Dr Sophie’s video ‘Mindfulness & Meditation’

Face your fears gradually

Avoiding situations which create anxiety or relying on habits we think will keep us safe might actually make our anxiety worse. Slowly facing up to a situation might help, and eventually it will feel OK.

Look at the bigger picture

If we’re feeling anxious about something, we might get stuck on the details and stop seeing things clearly. Thinking about your problem or situation from someone else’s view can make it easier to come up with a plan for tackling it. What advice would you give to a friend?

Try self-help techniques

The NHS Better Health short videos and practical guides to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you deal with worries, anxiety and unhelpful thoughts by working through problems in new ways and helping you build resilience. Try their self-help CBT techniques.

Understand your anxiety

Keeping a diary of what you are doing and how you feel at different times may help you understand why you’re anxious and identify ways to manage or get rid of anxiety.

Make time for worries

If anxiety or worry is taking over your day, try setting a daily “worry time” to go through your concerns. Doing this at a set time every day can help you to focus on other things. Check out the NHS Better Health video on tackling your worries.

Get moving for your mental wellbeing

One of the best things you can do for your mental health and wellbeing is to be active – it’s a natural mood booster.

Our bodies release feel-good hormones when we’re active that can also reduce anxiety and stress, and help us sleep better.

Local Options for Self Referral 

Everyturn Mental Health and NHS Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Talking Therapies are both local services who offer support for people experiencing common mental health problems.

Everyturn Mental Health

Everyturn Mental Health, formerly Insight Healthcare, provide free and confidential talking therapies and counselling to anyone aged 17+ who is registered with a GP in the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire area. They offer help to people who are experiencing common mental health problems, such as low mood, depression, anxiety or stress.

0300 555 0888

NHS Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Talking Therapies

This service provides help to people aged 17 and over who are experiencing common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety disorders, including: generalised anxiety disorder (GAD); social anxiety; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); health anxiety; panic; phobias and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). However, you do not need a diagnosis to access the service and we also see people with problems such as stress, low confidence, sleep disturbance and self-esteem issues. There is no upper age limit for people accessing our service.

0300 300 0055

In a Crisis?

If you have seriously harmed yourself or you feel that you may be about to harm yourself, call 999 for an ambulance or go straight to A&E. Or, if you are unable, ask someone else to call 999 or take you to A&E.

First Response Service (FRS)

FRS supports people experiencing a mental health crisis.  It provides 24-hour, seven days a week, 365 days a year access to mental health care, advice and support. By calling 111, and selecting option 2 you will be put through to a member of FRS who will speak to you and discuss your current mental health needs.

Dial 111 and choose option 2


Whatever you’re going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. We’re here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Call 116 123 for free

Local Online Service

Keep Your Head

Keep Your Head brings together reliable information on mental health and wellbeing for children, young people, adults, professionals, and schools across Cambridgeshire & Peterborough.

How can I help someone else living with anxiety?

There are lots of things you can do to support someone you know who might be struggling with their mental health.

Find out how you can support others, and why it can make a big difference, plus find out what you can do if they need more support.

Some other useful links: