Anxiety

Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried. While stress and anxious feelings are a common response to a situation where we feel under pressure, they usually pass once the stressful situation has passed, or ‘stressor’ is removed.
Anxiety is when these anxious feelings don't go away – when they're ongoing and happen without any particular reason or cause. It’s a serious condition that makes it hard to cope with daily life. Everyone feels anxious from time to time, but for someone experiencing anxiety, these feelings aren't easily controlled.
Types of anxiety Many people with anxiety experience symptoms of more than one type of anxiety condition, and may experience depression as well. It's important to seek support early if you're experiencing anxiety. Your symptoms may not go away on their own and if left untreated, they can start to take over your life.
There are different types of anxiety. The most common are:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
    A person feels anxious on most days, worrying about lots of different things, for a period of six months or more.
  • Social anxiety
    A person has an intense fear of being criticised, embarrassed or humiliated, even in everyday situations, such as speaking publicly, eating in public, being assertive at work or making small talk.
  • Specific phobias
    A person feels very fearful about a particular object or situation and may go to great lengths to avoid it, for example, having an injection or travelling on a plane. There are many different types of phobias.
  • Panic disorder
    A person has panic attacks, which are intense, overwhelming and often uncontrollable feelings of anxiety combined with a range of physical symptoms. Someone having a panic attack may experience shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness and excessive perspiration. Sometimes, people experiencing a panic attack think they are having a heart attack or are about to die. If a person has recurrent panic attacks or persistently fears having one for more than a month, they're said to have panic disorder.
  • Other conditions where anxiety is present
    - Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
    A person has ongoing unwanted/intrusive thoughts and fears that cause anxiety. Although the person may acknowledge these thoughts as silly, they often try to relieve their anxiety by carrying out certain behaviours or rituals. For example, a fear of germs and contamination can lead to constant washing of hands and clothes.
    - Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
    This can happen after a person experiences a traumatic event (e.g. war, assault, accident, disaster). Symptoms can include difficulty relaxing, upsetting dreams or flashbacks of the event, and avoidance of anything related to the event. PTSD is diagnosed when a person has symptoms for at least a month.

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms of anxiety conditions are sometimes not all that obvious as they often develop slowly over time and, given we all experience some anxiety at various points in our lives, it can be hard to know how much is too much.
Normal anxiety tends to be limited in time and connected with some stressful situation or event, such as a job interview. The type of anxiety experienced by people with an anxiety condition is more frequent or persistent, not always connected to an obvious challenge, and impacts on their quality of life and day-to-day functioning. While each anxiety condition has its own unique features, there are some common symptoms including:
Physical: panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening of the chest, quick breathing, restlessness, or feeling tense, wound up and edgy
Psychological: excessive fear, worry, catastrophizing, or obsessive thinking
Behavioural: avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious which can impact on study, work or social life
These are just some of a number of symptoms that you might experience. 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.

Treatments for anxiety

A range of health professionals and services offer information, treatment and support for anxiety conditions, as well as a number of things you can do to help yourself. Effective treatment helps you learn how to control your anxiety so it doesn’t control you. The type of treatment will depend on the type of anxiety you're experiencing. For mild symptoms your health professional might suggest lifestyle changes, such as regular physical exercise and reducing your stress levels. You might also like to try online e-therapies, many of which are free, anonymous and easily accessible for anyone with internet access. Where symptoms of anxiety are moderate to severe, psychological and/or medical treatments are likely to be required.
The important thing is finding the right treatment and the right health professional for your needs.

Psychological treatments for anxiety

Psychological treatments (also known as talking therapies) can help you change your thinking patterns so you're able to keep your anxiety under control and reduce irrational worries.
There are several types of effective psychological treatments for anxiety, as well as different delivery options. Some people prefer to work one on one with a professional, while others get more out of a group environment. A growing number of online programs, or e-therapies, are also available.

Medical treatments for anxiety

Research shows that psychological therapies are the most effective treatment option for people with anxiety. However, if symptoms are severe, some medical treatments may be helpful.

Antidepressant medication

Some types of antidepressant medication can help people to manage anxiety, even if they are not experiencing symptoms of depression. Research indicates that when people have an anxiety condition, specific changes occur in their brain's chemicals – serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine. Antidepressant medication is designed to correct the imbalance of chemical messages between nerve cells (neurones) in the brain. Anxiety management strategies
There are a range of strategies you can try to manage your anxiety. What works is different for everyone, and it can take time to find the strategies that work best for you. But remember, if your anxiety is proving difficult to manage seek support from a professional.

Recovering from anxiety and depression

Staying well is about finding a balance that works for you, but there are some general principles that most people find useful. These include reducing and managing your stress levels, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, cutting back on alcohol and drugs, and taking action early if you start experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression. It's also important to deal with any setbacks and keep trying.
Family and friends can play an important role by providing practical and emotional support, or just being there to listen. Find out what you can do to support someone experiencing anxiety or depression, including looking after yourself.

Take this simple test to see if you are likely having depression and anxiety:

If you or someone you know is having symptoms of Depression, immediately seek health care. You can find MHA Champions Care Providers below:

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