Short answer: Anxiety is excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational anticipation of future threats, caused by a range of physical, environmental and psychological triggers that can create a stress response out of proportion to the reality of the threat.
Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried, as these feelings are a common response to a situation when we feel under pressure. Day to day worries tend to pass once the situation has resolved and the stress response has settled. It’s when that feeling of anxiousness doesn’t go away, or occurs without any particular reason, making your daily life hard to cope with, that anxiety may be diagnosed. Anxiety is the most common mental health issue in Australia, with 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men experiencing it at some stage in their life. In a 12-month period, over 2 million Aussies will experience anxiety, with many people suffering from more than one type.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) where people worry uncontrollably about common occurrences and situations. It is also known as Chronic Anxiety Neurosis.
Social Anxiety, also known as social phobia, where everyday interactions cause significant anxiety, self-consciousness and embarrassment due to fear of being scrutinised or judged negatively by others.
Specific Phobias are intense, irrational fears of things that pose little or no actual danger. Adults with phobias may realise the fears are irrational but worry that their anxious reaction is automatic or uncontrollable. Specific phobias are often associated with panic attacks.
Panic Disorder is the name for recurrent, unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is a sudden period of intense fear or discomfort, where symptoms can reach a peak within a few minutes. Common symptoms are increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, excessive perspiration and dizziness or light-headedness.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) starts with excessive thoughts or obsessions that lead to compulsive repetitive behaviours. OCD can often centre on themes such as fear of germs or the need to arrange objects in a specific manner.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is characterised by failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. The condition may last months or years, with triggers that can bring back memories of the trauma. These can include nightmares, flashbacks, avoidance of certain situations, anxiety or depressed mood.
Can I get my life back?
Most definitely. Some strategies you may like to try for yourself are practicing mindfulness techniques, being kind to yourself by taking care of your negative self-talk and adopting a healthy lifestyle. WLC Medical has a range of services that may be able to assist you. Our psychologist David Simich has extensive experience in managing a range of mental health concerns, including anxiety based disorders. Our clinic building also consists of 2 excellent counsellors in Jenia Sanders of Keystone Counselling and Kris Halls of Belmont Counselling, who can provide in-depth counselling and support. For 24/7 crisis support you can contact Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636) or Lifeline WA (13 11 14).