What is anxiety?

Anxiety can be emotional, physical, behavioural or a combination of these. Anxiety disorders have shared symptoms and people may experience a range of symptoms across this spectrum of mental health disorders. Anxious symptoms can significantly interfere with our ability to carry out normal activities of daily living such as effects on concentration, sleep and carrying out ordinary tasks. These symptoms may indicate the individual is experiencing an anxiety disorder.

Emotional symptoms can include a sense of impending danger or panic, feeling powerless or apprehensiveness, difficulty with problem solving or remembering things, excessively worrying about the past, present or future or finding it hard to think clearly.

Physical symptoms may include feeling tense, headaches or muscle tension, feeling tired or weak, increased heart rate, trembling, blushing, hot and cold flushes, hyperventilation, sweating, diarrhoea, difficulty with sleep and experiencing nightmares, dry mouth, feeling wound up and edgy, chest pain and/or stomach pain, dizziness, choking sensation and shortness of breath.

Behaviourally anxious symptoms can include avoiding situations that make you feel anxious or isolating yourself from others.

Types of anxiety

The seven common types of anxiety include: generalised anxiety disorder, social phobia, panic disorder, agoraphobia, specific phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Causes of anxiety

How anxiety develops is not fully understood. Research suggests it is likely a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Some causes of anxiety can include family history, developmental stressors, ongoing stressful situations, physical health issues, caffeine and substance abuse. However, anxiety is not all bad. Some level of anxiety helps us to correctly respond to dangerous situations and develop appropriately. When these responses occur in circumstances where they are not helpful then anxiety may become an issue.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The first step is to consult with your health care professional. There are many services and health care professionals out there to help you, so you are not alone. Treatment will be dependent on the severity of your symptoms and coping mechanisms. Common treatments can include cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), mindfulness, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), breathing and relaxing techniques, exercise, reducing caffeine, moderating alcohol, quitting smoking and medication.

Request an appointment with one our Psychologists by calling one of the following locations; Kidman Park, Dover Gardens, Hope Valley, Mitcham, Norwood, Stirling or Beverley.

Pro Psychology SA, Edited by David Ahmed, Psychologist

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