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Babylon Health: Tips for coping with anxiety and mental health

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Nadiya Hussain seems superhuman. Since winning The Great British Bake Off, the mum of three has become a columnist, accutane armpit rash author and TV host. Nadiya is at the top of her game but getting to this point has not been easy.

Nadiya Hussain has been vocal about her mental health struggles over the years, sharing her story on a BBC documentary.

Despite going public about her problems, the star chef has not discussed them with her parents, she revealed in That Gaby Roslin Podcast.

Nadiya said: “Even now, to this day, I have never openly spoken about my mental health to my parents.

“They have watched the documentary and they know that I suffer with mental health issues, but we’ve never spoken about it.”

She added: “There is no terminology for mental health illness within our community. Often there are different words used such as, ‘She’s gone mad or they have been possessed or they’re on drugs’… there is no actual word to explain mental health issues/illness.”

Nadiya has proved a comprehensive insight into her mental health struggles on her website Nadiya, where she revealed: “For over 20 years I suffered with panic disorder and he was the one who saw the worst of it, the lowest of the low. He was the one who propped me up every time I willed myself to fail.

“So I entered Bake Off because he was right. I had lost myself in the madness that is life. I was everything, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother but I still was nowhere near finding me.”

Bake Off helped Nadiya to confront many of her struggles, she explained in the post.

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“Packed and ready to film my first episode it became a day of many firsts for me. First time in a taxi alone, first time on a train alone, first time on the underground alone, first time without my husband to help, first time without my kids.

“My anxiety mounted, I perspired through the missed trains, the sweaty pits and the quiet tears.”

Anxiety – do you have it?

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.

Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam, having a medical test or a job interview.

During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal.

However, “some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives”, explains the NHS.

Anxiety is the main symptom of several conditions, including:

  • Panic disorder
  • Phobias, such as agoraphobia or claustrophobia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia).

How to treat anxiety

Anxiety can have a significant effect on your daily life, but several different treatments are available that can ease your symptoms.

A new study shows that both moderate and strenuous exercise alleviates symptoms of anxiety, even when the disorder is chronic.

The study, now published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, is based on 286 patients with anxiety syndrome, recruited from primary care services in Gothenburg and the northern part of Halland County.

If lifestyle changes do not help, more specialist interventions can be pursued.

  • These include:
  • Psychological therapies – you can get psychological therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) on the NHS; you do not need a referral from a GP and you can refer yourself for psychological therapies service in your area
  • Medicine – such as a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

“With treatment, many people are able to control their anxiety levels. But some treatments may need to be continued for a long time and there may be periods when your symptoms worsen,” explains the NHS.

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