Anxiety is a natural reaction to a stressful situation, and is generally associated with feelings of worry, nervousness or apprehension.  For many individuals, anxiety may occur when in a new and unfamiliar situation, when being asked to undertake a challenging task, or where someone feels they are facing a situation where the outcome is uncertain.  Examples of this include starting a new job, meeting new groups of people, or trying a new activity.

Common symptoms of anxiety include: rapid heart rate, trembling or shaking, feeling light-headed, difficulty concentrating, numbness, nausea, excessive sweating, and a desire to avoid specific situations.  However, when symptoms of anxiety are severe, frequent and recurring, individuals may be considered to have an anxiety disorder.  Specifically, individuals with an anxiety disorder may experience anxious thoughts, feelings, or physical symptoms that feel overwhelming and severe, and interrupt their everyday activities.

Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental health disorder diagnosed in Australia affecting around 14% of Australians every year.  There are also different types of anxiety disorders, including: Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Specific Phobias, and Panic Disorder.

Whilst there is no single known cause of anxiety disorders, there are a number of risk factors or triggers that may contribute to the development of such a condition.   These include biological factors, genetics, specific styles or patterns of thinking, unhelpful coping strategies, experiencing stressful life events and early trauma.

Treatment for Anxiety

If anxiety is affecting your day-to-day life, a Clinical Psychologist may be able to help.  Clinical Psychologists are highly trained mental health professionals with experience in helping patients recover from anxiety.   There are several different approaches to treating anxiety that have been found to be effective, and a Clinical Psychologist can help you identify and manage the factors that contribute to specific anxiety disorders.  These treatment approaches include Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Mindfulness, and general lifestyle changes.  Broadly, psychological interventions can support individuals in shifting unhelpful patterns of thinking, develop problem solving techniques, improve general coping strategies, utilise relaxations exercises to manage physiological symptoms of anxiety,  and develop lifestyle changes that can help reduce general stress.

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