Spotting the signs of hidden anxiety

Anxiety is a natural response to stress. Normal levels of stress are motivational but too much stress can lead to anxiety and physical sensations like increased heart rate, sensitivity to sound, more responsive reflexes and a heightened fight or flight response. At times of danger these responses are very important but if anxiety lingers it can become chronic, which is linked to stress-related illnesses, panic attacks and anxiety disorders.

Because chronic stress and anxiety reduces our ability to think clearly it can be difficult for all of us to know when stress is making us ill. It can be particularly difficult for parents to know when adolescent struggles are actually signs of more severe anxiety. According to the UCD/Jigsaw ‘My World Survey’ 2012, 29 per cent of males and 36 per cent of females from first to sixth year in secondary school experience mild to severe anxiety. It is evident from this National Study of Youth Mental Health in Ireland that mental health difficulties emerged in early adolescence and peaked in the late teens and early 20s. Identifying anxiety and getting help early will help everyone to reduce the impact it has on work, exams, health and relationships. For this reason it is important to be aware of the hidden signs of anxiety.

Seven signs of anxiety to look out for:

• Emotional changes like persistent worry, irritability, difficulty concentrating and unexplained outbursts.

• Social changes like avoiding friends or extracurricular activities and spending increased time alone.

• Physical changes like frequent headaches, migraines, unexplained aches and pains and excessive fatigue.

• Change of eating habits, digestive problems, loss of appetite and nausea.

• Not feeling refreshed after sleeping: 13-18-year-olds should get eight to 10 hours of sleep watch out for difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, vivid dreams, frequent nightmares and feeling wired yet tired.

• Reduced school/work performance, all of the above can impact focus, memory, energy levels, motivation, the ability to speak publicly and to do their best in exams.

• Panic attacks, mild symptoms of panic include rapid heart rate, sweating and trembling, dizziness, numbness or tingling in arms and legs, upset stomach, difficulty breathing, easily startled and chest pain.

Parents are a great resource when included in their child’s recovery process. However caring for a child with health concerns can be very stressful for parents and self-care is key. Reach out and ask for support from friends or family you can rely on and make sure you have time for yourself. As children are very sensitive to their mother’s moods, it is helpful for mothers to reduce stress as much as possible. This will have a beneficial effect for the whole family.  

Past stress and emotional issues are best dealt with in one-to-one sessions, but as this is not an option for everyone, I will be running a six-week Relaxation Circle for Mother’s on Friday mornings at 10.30am, starting January 24 in Market St Clinic Skibbereen where mothers can relax and learn how to reduce and manage their own stress. €90 for six weeks, please call 087 6331898 to book your place.

Anyone else who would like to reduce stress and anxiety, improve energy levels and sleep are very welcome to join my group acupuncture sessions on Fridays at 12 noon, upstairs in Market St. Clinic Skibbereen, starting January 17. Drop in is €20/session.

If you would like to recover from Trauma, Anxiety or Stress, Amanda Roe uses a range of holistic therapies to help clients improve their mental, physical and emotional health. For more information or to book a session call/text 087 633 1898 or email

WCP Staff

WCP Staff Writer

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