What is anxiety?
Anxiety is when you're always living on the edge.
What it is like to experience unhealthy anxiety.
Doing the most basic everyday tasks became completely overwhelming and stressful. Kate.
"I couldn’t function. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me" Kerryn.
Anxiety is a part of life but it should not leave you with an ongoing sense of fear or anxiousness or change the way you spend your time. If anxiety is getting in the way of what you are doing, then it is time to get some help. Source:
Feeling anxious is normal!
We all feel anxious sometimes – it might be about exam results, a job interview or even who will win the final of a sports match. Anxiety is a normal part of life and, in fact, is necessary to help us avoid danger or perform at our best by making us alert and focused.
When anxiety is bad for you
Anxiety becomes harmful when these anxious feelings become intense and overwhelming. When fear overwhelms a person, their life is made far more difficult. It makes everyday tasks harder.
Types of anxiety
There are different types of anxiety, but they all share some common symptoms.
“I had a lot of physical symptoms of anxiety such as a racing heart and turning red. I became anxious all the time and it was triggered by anything. I knew that I shouldn’t be feeling this way, not enjoying anything and being so anxious and on edge all the time, so I eventually started to do some research on the internet about what might be going on for me.” Jennifer, 23 years
Anxiety can manifest in a number of different ways, each of which is distressing and overwhelming for the person experiencing the symptoms.
Generalised anxiety disorder – Chronic worrying:
People suffering from chronic worrying direct their anxiety not only at major life events (e.g. relationships, finances) but also at minor day to day issues (e.g. burnt toast). These people tend to exaggerate their worries, so minor events become major problems.
Compulsions and rituals:
For some people their anxiety is related to compulsive or ritualistic behaviours engaged in to reduce the anxiety, for example compulsive hand washing to prevent contamination by germs, checking the door is locked 5 times before they leave the house.
Some people experience intrusive and recurring thoughts about future events or thinking, doing or saying something disturbing e.g. saying something inappropriate.
Some people experience intense and sudden periods of panic characterised by palpitations, sweating, dizziness and feeling of depersonalisation.
These are fears around specific objects or events e.g. fear of dogs, or open spaces.
What causes anxiety?
While it's different for everyone, anxiety often develops from a combination of factors rather a single issue or event.
Family history of mental health problems
People who experience anxiety often have a history of mental health problems in their family. However, having a parent or close relative experience a mental health condition doesn't mean you'll automatically develop anxiety. Life circumstances and other personal factors are still likely to have a significant influence.
Common triggers for anxiety include:
- Stress at work
- A change of job
- Moving house
- Pregnancy and giving birth
- Family relationship problems
- An accident or traumatic event
- Abuse. Verbal, sexual, physical or emotional
- Death or loss of a loved one
- Continuing physical illness
Everyone’s different and it's often a combination of factors that can contribute to developing anxiety. It's important to remember that you can't always identify the cause of anxiety or change difficult circumstances. The most important thing is to recognise the signs and symptoms and seek support.
Signs and symptoms
The symptoms of anxiety are sometimes not all that apparent as they often develop gradually and, given that we all experience anxiety at some point in time, it can be hard to know how much is too much.
Some common symptoms include:
- Hot and cold flushes
- Racing heart
- Tightening of the chest
- Snowballing worries
- Obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviour
- Difficulty concentrating
- Upset stomach or nausea
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling lightheaded
- Avoidance of certain situations or experiences
- Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness.
- Problems sleeping
- Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
- An inability to be still and calm
- Dry mouth
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Muscle tension
Do you recognise these symptoms?
These are just some of some of the symptoms that you might experience if you are suffering from anxiety. If you're familiar with any of these, check a more extensive list of symptoms common to the different types of anxiety disorders below. 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. Source:
Causes of stress • Financial issues remain the leading cause of stress amongst Australians, with close to 50% of Australians identifying personal finances as a cause of stress. • One in five Australians reported mental health issues as a source of stress. Younger adults (below 35 years of age) reported significantly more concern about mental health issues than other Australians. • 40% of Australians reported that trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle was a source of stress.
Who experiences anxiety symptoms?
One in ten Australians reported depressive and anxiety symptoms in the severe to extremely severe range • Younger adults reported significantly higher levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms compared with older Australians. • Unemployed Australians reported significantly higher levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms than working or retired Australians.
Where can we source help?
Help-seeking behaviour for managing stress • People were most likely to seek help to manage their stress from family (27%), friends (25%) and general practitioners (21%). • 15% of Australians reported that they sought help to manage their stress from a psychologist or other mental health professional. http://www.psychology.org.au/Assets/Files/Stress%20and%20wellbeing%20in%20Australia%202012%20Report_FINAL-web.pdf
If you had a broken arm would you fix it yourself? Probably not!
However, when it comes to our mental health we often adopt self-help remedies. For some anxiety this is fine. Exercise, diet and lifestyle change can help. But, if you suffer from a cluster of the anxiety symptoms listed above you may need professional help.
Find a professional
Now that you've got a better understanding of anxiety, the next step is to find someone in your local area who can support you to overcome these issues
Contact Susann on Twitter # if you have a question or #Susann for more information and tips.
And of course our blog is constantly updated with helpful tips and in depth information.
To make an appointment to see us call on 0414 251 967 and make an appointment.
Anxiety left untreated can become depression.
Meghan Rinks has over 2 million subscribers to her YouTube channel. In this video, she bears her soul describing what it feels like to be depressed.
Even people who seem to have it all together can suffer debilitating anxiety and depression.
Sources: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20646990_13,00.html https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/signs-and-symptoms https://www.psychology.org.au/publications/tip_sheets/anxiety/#s2