Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried. While stress and anxious feelings are a common response to a situation where we feel under pressure, they usually pass once the stressful situation has passed, or ‘stressor’ is removed.
Everyone feels anxious from time to time. When anxious feelings don't go away, happen without any particular reason or make it hard to cope with daily life it may be the sign of an anxiety condition.
1. In a 12-month period, over two million Australians experience anxiety
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of anxiety conditions are sometimes not all that obvious as they often develop slowly over time and, given we all experience some anxiety at various points in our lives, it can be hard to know how much is too much.
Normal anxiety tends to be limited in time and connected with some stressful situation or event, such as a job interview. The type of anxiety experienced by people with an anxiety condition is more frequent or persistent, not always connected to an obvious challenge, and impacts on their quality of life and day-to-day functioning. While each anxiety condition has its own unique features, there are some common symptoms including:
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
These are just some of a number of symptoms that you might experience. They're not designed to provide a diagnosis – for that you'll need to see a doctor – but they can be used as a guide.
Who can assist?
A range of individuals and organisations provide support for people experiencing depression and/or anxiety conditions. While some people may just need to get help from one particular type of health professional, other people may benefit from seeing various people for different aspects of their treatment. What works? Everyone's different. Treatment needs to be tailored to your condition, circumstances, needs and preferences. Most people with anxiety or depression benefit from one or a combination of the following:
lifestyle changes and social support
psychological or 'talking' therapies
Health professionals - what's the difference? Different health professionals (such as GPs, psychologists and psychiatrists) offer different types of services and treatments for depression and anxiety. Below is a guide to the range of practitioners available and what kind of treatment they provide.