While everyone feels anxious from time to time, some people experience these feelings so often and/or so strongly that it can affect their everyday lives. Often people confuse anxiety disorders with stress. Stress is a normal reaction to a situation where a person feels under pressure. For example, it’s common for people to feel stressed or uptight when meeting work deadlines, sitting exams or speaking in front of a group of people.  However, for some people these feelings are ongoing, happen for no apparent reason or continue after the stressful event has passed.

Common symptoms
  • Persistent worrying
  • Restlessness
  • A sense of dread
  • Feeling constantly “on edge”
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Impatience
  • Being easily distracted
  • Physical symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, dry mouth, headache, nausea, diarrhoea, menstrual problems, and difficulty falling or staying asleep (insomnia).
Anxiety disorder contributors
  • Family history – people who experience an anxiety disorder often have a history of mental health problems in their family.
  • Environmental factors
  • Stressful events can also trigger symptoms of anxiety.
Common triggers include:
  • changing jobs
  • changing living arrangements
  • family and relationship problems
  • experiencing a major emotional shock following a stressful event
  • experiencing verbal, sexual, physical or emotional abuse or trauma
  • death or loss of a loved one.
  • Physical health issues – Ongoing physical illness can also trigger anxiety disorders or complicate the treatment of the anxiety or the physical illness itself.
Common conditions that can do this include:
  • hormonal problems e.g.  over and under-active thyroid
  • heart disease
  • pregnancy and giving birth.
  • Personality factors – Some research suggests that people with certain personality traits are more likely to have an anxiety disorder. For example, children who are perfectionists, easily flustered, lack self-esteem or want to control everything, sometimes develop anxiety disorders as adults.

What can I do?

There are 2 ways to treat Anxiety Disorders. These treatments are to seek help from a psychologist, doctor or counsellor and to take prescribed medication if required. The first step is to contact your medical practitioner. There are, however, things that you can do to help manage an Anxiety Disorders:

  1. Maintain good health. Eat healthily, exercise and take time to listen to music or do things you enjoy.
  2. Talk to your family and friends so that they can support you. Talking can help reduce your anxiety levels.
  3. Avoid alcohol and other drugs. These can increase your anxiety levels.

Where to get professional help

  • OCD and Anxiety Helpline 1300 269 438
  • Life Line on 13 11 14
  • Your general practitioner
  • One of our counsellors or psychologist
  • Mensline on 1300 78 99 78
  • Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
  • Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800