Anxiety disorders are very common with one in four people experiencing an anxiety disorder at some stage within their life.
Sometimes, anxiety can be confused with stress. Stress is a normal reaction to a situation where a person feels under pressure such as when meeting work deadlines, sitting exams or public speaking. However for people with anxiety disorders, these feelings are ongoing, can happen for no apparent reason and can interfere with daily living.
There are many different types of anxiety disorders including generalised anxiety disorders, social phobias, specific phobias (for example agoraphobia and claustrophobia), panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If left untreated, anxiety disorders can lead to depression.
The symptoms of anxiety disorders vary from person to person and often develop gradually over time.
Anxiety generally involves ongoing worry or negative thinking that can interfere with daily living.
Symptoms of anxiety may also include:
- Faintness / dizziness
- Rapid heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Upset stomach or nausea
- Avoidance behaviour
Tips to manage anxiety
- Identify stress and trigger factors - structured problem solving is a useful technique to help resolve anxiety by addressing the problem. This can involve a number of steps including:
- identifying the problem
- coming up with as many solutions for solving the problem
- selecting a preferred solution
- developing a plan for trying out the solution and give it a go
- if it doesn’t work, go back to the solution list and try another
- Breathing exercises - breathing techniques can help slow down breathing and relieve anxiety symptoms and help a person to think more clearly
- Relaxation techniques - relaxation techniques can help a person to maintain a manageable level of anxiety
- Thought management - thought management techniques can assist by redirecting attention away from negative thinking. A simple technique is called ‘thought replacement' which involves developing a set of statements that will counteract worrying thoughts for example "This is difficult but I have been through it before and have got through it okay"
- Lifestyle changes - enjoying a healthy and active lifestyle can not only improve overall well being but may also assist in managing anxiety on a daily basis
Who can help you manage anxiety?The sooner you get help, the sooner you can learn to control these conditions so they don’t control you.
Your GP can assist you to obtain a proper diagnosis as well as access appropriate services and health professionals to help manage your anxiety.