Anxiety

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety covers a range of emotional distress, from generalised and/or isolated fear and nervousness to panic attacks. While there is a normal level of anxiety involved in everyday life, experiencing heightened anxiety over a period of six months of more may indicate the presence of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety can build up over time and might be related to current extended circumstances, past events and personal history, and/or specific perception and cognitions.

 

Symptoms and Behaviours

  • persistent feelings fear, nervousness, and/or panic

  • restlessness, sleep disturbances and tiredness

  • inability to concentrate or relax

  • muscle/body tension and/or spasms

  • panic attacks (abrupt surges of intense fear or discomfort, reaching a peak in minutes and accompanied by physical and/or cognitive symptoms like struggling to breathe, and racing thoughts)

  • avoidance of certain situations due to feelings of anxiousness

  • constant checking, over-preparation, situational-avoidance behaviours

 

Treatment and Relaxation Methods

Effectiveness of treatment depends on individual presentation and needs. Some methods that have been effective include:

  • anxiety focused talk therapy (sessions with a trained psychologist, counsellor or therapist)

    • including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Mindfulness, Solution-Focused Therapy, and Existential Therapy

  • mindfulness practices

  • progressive muscle relaxation practices

  • body awareness practices

  • breathing and meditation practices

  • support from caring friends and family

 

For crisis support within Australia, in an emergency please call 000, or call Lifeline's crisis line: 13 11 14.

 

 

 

References

 

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: Author.

 

Davis, M., Eshelman, E. R., & McKay, M. (2008). The relaxation & stress reduction workbook. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

 

Lifeline. (accessed 2020). Panic Attacks. Retrieved from https://www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/topics/panic-attacks

 

Mental Health Online. (2018). Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.mentalhealthonline.org.au/pages/about-mental-health/anxiety/generalised-anxiety-disorder

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