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What is Anxiety?

Feelings of anxiousness and stress can be normal responses to the events that happen in our everyday life. When these feelings refuse to subside even after the stress-inducing factor has been taken away, or arise without any notable triggers, this can become a debilitating burden on our lives and could be a sign that you are struggling with anxiety.

Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. One in four people will experience anxiety at some stage in their life, and every year almost 2 million Australians experience anxiety. It is often directly related to other conditions, like obsessions and compulsions, PTSD, and depression. In addition to generalised anxiety, the DSM-5 lists the following mental health issues as anxiety disorders:

  • Separation anxiety: Can be characterised by reluctance to leave home or be apart from parents and anxiety when separated from parents.

  • Selective mutism: Selective mutism means not speaking at all in only some situations. This may cause issues with academic, work, or social success.

  • Panic: Panic disorder is diagnosed by recurring panic attacks, including physical symptoms of anxiety.

  • Specific phobias: Phobias are fear surrounding a certain object or situation, which the person avoids.

  • Social anxiety: People with social anxiety feel fear or anxiety in social situations. The fear is often out of proportion to the threat, and people with social anxiety may avoid social situations.

  • Agoraphobia: Agoraphobia can include fear of being in open or enclosed spaces, leaving one’s house, and being in crowds or using public transportation.

  • Medication/substance-induced anxiety: This condition is diagnosed by anxiety that seems to be directly caused by exposure to certain substances, like caffeine or alcohol. The anxiety could also be caused by a medication.



People can show signs of anxiety in many ways. Some may become more talkative, while others withdraw or self-isolate. Even people who seem outgoing, friendly, or fearless can have anxiety. Since anxiety has many symptoms, how it looks for one person is not how it appears for another. Some common symptoms of Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) include:

  • Physical: panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening of the chest, quick breathing, restlessness, or feeling tense, wound up and edgy

  • Psychological: excessive fear, worry, catastrophizing, or obsessive thinking

  • Behavioural: avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious which can impact on study, work or social life

People who have anxiety may be withdrawn, but this is not the case for everyone with anxiety. Sometimes, anxiety may trigger a “fight” rather than “flight” response, in which case a person might appear confrontational. Stumbling over words, trembling, and nervous tics are often associated with anxiety. While they can appear in people with anxiety, they are not always present, and some people who do not have anxiety also show these signs.



The prevalence of Anxiety is alarming, however with the help of a qualified health professional, they teach you skills to learn to manage your symptoms more effectively. Therapy can help clients develop coping skills when dealing with symptoms of anxiety that include meditation, exercise and learning to communicate in an assertive manner.



Anxiety – Beyond Blue
Anxiety – Good Therapy

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