Anxiety

anxiety therapyAnxiety is an uncomfortable feeling of fear or impending disaster and reflects the thoughts and bodily reactions a person has when they are presented with an event or situation that they cannot manage or undertake successfully. When a person is experiencing anxiety their thoughts are actively assessing the situation, sometimes even automatically and outside of conscious attention, and developing predictions of how well they will cope based on past experiences.

Although some anxiety is a normal response to a stressful situation, when the anxiety level is too high a person may not come up with an effective way of managing the stressful or threatening situation. They might “freeze”, avoid the situation, or even fear they may do something that is out of character.

Anxiety generally causes people to experience the following responses:

  • An intense physical response due to arousal of the nervous system leading to physical symptoms such as a racing heartbeat.
  • A cognitive response which refers to thoughts about the situation and the person’s ability to cope with it. For someone experiencing high anxiety this often means interpreting situations negatively and having unhelpful thoughts such as “This is really bad” or “I can’t cope with this”.
  • A behavioural response which may include avoidance or uncharacteristic behaviour including aggression, restlessness or irrational behaviour such as repeated checking.
  • An emotional response reflecting the high level of distress the person is experiencing.

What causes anxiety?

  • Hereditary factors
  • Biochemical factors
  • Life experiences
  • Personality style
  • Thinking style
  • Behavioural styles

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

The experience of anxiety will vary from person to person. Central features of anxiety include ongoing worry or thoughts that are distressing and that interfere with daily living. In addition to worry or negative thinking, symptoms of anxiety may include:

  • Confusion
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Faintness/dizziness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Avoidance behaviour
  • Irritability

How to manage anxiety

  • Identification of stress and trigger factors
  • Breathing exercises
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Thought management
  • Lifestyle changes

Other resources on anxiety

To read more about anxiety go to the following websites or phone the listed services:

beyondblue Australiabeyondblue
beyondblue.org.au
Phone: 1300 22 4636

 

Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and DepressionCRUfAD
crufad.com
Phone: (02) 8382 1408

Source: The Australian Psychological Society Limited 2015