How To Know When It's Time To Seek Help For Your Anxiety

With news of a second Covid-19 lockdown, many people are struggling. So what can you do?

Feeling anxious at times is normal, but when doubled with the news of a second lockdown, it’s enough to send anyone’s fear, dread, and worry levels skyrocketing.

The effects of the pandemic may have led to increased anxiety and panic attacks among Brits. So what can you do about your coronavirus anxiety? The world might seem like a confusing and isolating place, but there’s plenty of support and resources helping you to deal with anxiety – and it’s important to have those strategies and toolkits at hand.

“Surround yourself with your support network and find your rock (even if virtually). If you don’t have anyone, there are organisations like ourselves out there and local peer support self-help groups,” Dave Smithson, from Anxiety UK, tells HuffPost UK.

“Talking to people and sharing your thoughts and feelings with others in similar situations can be really supportive. They understand what you’re going through and what you’re dealing with because they’re in the same boat.”

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Remember to look after yourself.

It’s easy to get sucked into a hole scrolling through news coverage of the ongoing pandemic. While it’s important to stay connected, it’s also important to take a step back and look after yourself.

“Control the amount of information you pay attention to and you allow in because otherwise, it can get overwhelming if you think and breathe Covid,” Dr Abigael San, a chartered clinical psychologist explains. “Try to limit news intake once or twice a day. Put devices somewhere else out of sight and switch off or mute alerts that come in so you can get on with other stuff and don’t become consumed – because it can really affect your mood.”

“We’ve got the benefit of experience this time around and we’ve already been through it before, but with a different outlook,” adds San.

“We’ve come out the other end and we’re still here – it was very difficult, but it didn’t break us. We sort of know how to deal with it now and can keep to schedule so that we’re not just kind of stuck in a repetitive world.”

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It’s important to recognise this situation is difficult for everyone. Change is scary and there are things you simply can’t control, but there are things you can do.

“There are lots of self-care techniques that you could work into your daily life such as mindfulness, meditation, or yoga,” Putt explains. “Journalling can also be a helpful way to keep track of how you are feeling and to notice what helps to reduce your anxiety.”

But know when it’s time to seek help.

If you’re feeling increasingly worried about the future, chances are you’ll respond one of two ways: either shutting yourself away from anyone, or reaching out to friends, unloading your worries on their listening ears.

Neither approach is wrong. Whichever way you naturally gravitate, it may be difficult to understand those who act differently than you do when they’re feeling fragile. “Reaching out can be difficult but it is important to seek help if you notice your mental health problems are having a significant effect on your life,” explains Stephen Buckley, from the mental health charity, Mind.

This may also be the case if you have tried to speak to friends about how you are feeling, or taken steps to focus on self-care, and you still aren’t feeling any better. In general, it’s best to seek support if you’re struggling to live your life as you normally would.

Symptoms of an anxiety disorder may include racing thoughts, uncontrollable over thinking, difficulties concentrating, feelings of dread, panic or ‘impending doom’, feeling irritable, heightened alertness, problems with sleep, changes in appetite, wanting to escape from the situation you are in, and dissociation.

You may also experience physical symptoms, such as sweating, heavy and fast breathing, hot flushes or blushing, dry mouth, shaking, hair loss, fast heartbeat, extreme tiredness or lack of energy, dizziness and fainting, and stomach aches and sickness.

“Start by talking to someone you trust about how you’re feeling, but it’s also important to talk to your GP as they can help with treatment options, such as talking therapies or medication,” says Buckley. “Talking to a doctor about this can be challenging, so Mind has produced a ’Find the Words’ guide which can help you to talk about mental health problems with your GP.”

People in England can access a number of therapy treatments freely through the NHS. The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme provides evidence-based treatments for people with anxiety and depression and is accessed by more than 900,000 people each year.

The therapies you can access through IAPT are evidence-based and aimed at people with common mental health problems including depression and generalised anxiety disorder. While there are many talking therapies available, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is most commonly offered.

Covid-19 is more than a news story – it has changed every aspect of life in the UK. We are following how Britain is experiencing this crisis, the different stages of collective emotion, reaction and resilience. You can tell us how you are feeling and find further advice and resources here.

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Useful websites and helplines

Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.

Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).

CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.

The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email

Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on