What is Anxiety?
Most people experience some form of anxiety in their lifetime. Anxiety refers to the thoughts and bodily reactions a person has when they are presented with an event or situation that they feel they cannot manage or undertake successfully. It is often described as an uncomfortable feeling of vulnerability involving worry or fear and is commonly experienced in high pressure situations, for example, prior to a speech or presentation, while undertaking an exam, or following an accident.
While it is considered a natural reaction to a stressful situation, for some people anxious thoughts, feelings, or physical symptoms can become severe, and cause distress or interfere with their ability to cope with normal daily demands and may develop into a disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental disorders diagnosed in Australia and can take a number of different forms. These include Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Specific Phobia, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Social Anxiety Disorder which we’ve outlined on our services page.
Although symptoms will vary from person to person, a common feature for most individuals is a feeling of stress or worry. In addition to worry or negative thinking, symptoms can include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Avoidance behaviour
- Rapid heartbeat
- Trembling or shaking
- Feeling lightheaded or faint
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Upset stomach or nausea
There is no single known cause however, there are a number of risk factors or triggers that may contribute to the development of anxious thoughts, behaviours and physical symptoms. These include:
- Biological factors such as genetic connection, poor physical health
- Psychological factors such as low self-esteem, certain personality traits linked to anxious ways of interpreting events, unhelpful coping strategies
- Social-environmental factors such as marriage breakdowns, work or school deadlines, and financial hardship can also act as a trigger.
Treatment for Anxiety
Anxiety can be treated using a number of methods however, to determine which treatment is best suited, Kathryn will ask questions about the individual’s history, circumstances, thoughts, feelings and behaviours to gain an understanding of factors that might be contributing to the person’s difficulties and work out a treatment best suited to the client.
Further Reading & Support
The Australian Psychological Society
Australia’s largest professional association for psychologists
Provides information on anxiety, depression, and related disorders
Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation, providing assistance for individuals aged 12-25
A 24-hour counselling, suicide prevention and mental health support service
Telephone: 13 11 14