Anxiety is the most common disorder in Australia. There are more than 3 million Australian adults that suffer from anxiety. With the pace of life becoming faster and busier every year, it is easy to fall into overloading your plate and biting off a little more than you can chew. While there are many aspects that can cause stress and frustration, anxiety is more than simply a stressful or unpleasant feeling related to daily struggles and complications. Anxiety is a disorder, generally completely independent of a specific circumstance that may be causing you immediate stress. It is an unfocused and generalised state of inner turmoil, nervousness, worry, and fear.
For all the benefits of our evolutionary mechanisms, there can be minor malfunctions. Our life preserving fight or flight tendency can become so sensitive to external stimuli that it over-interprets unpleasant experiences and puts you in a continual state of hyper-alertness. There becomes no distinction between a real threat and an ordinary life experience.
Expert psychologists from Talking Minds in Sydney explain that while major events such as divorce, redundancy, and personal relationships can all trigger anxiety, anxiety disorders are typically categorised into five common types:
1. Generalised Anxiety Disorder: A perpetual state of worry, stress, and fear in dealing with common, everyday life issues such as health, finances, and future events.
2. Social Anxiety Disorder: An excessive fear regarding judgement and other people’s perceptions of oneself.
3. Panic Disorder: Panic attacks are perhaps the most characteristic symptom tied to anxiety, although not experienced by every person. During these attacks a person will experience sudden and strong physical symptoms including a racing heart, hyperventilation, and upset stomach.
4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): in the months following a traumatic event, a person who experiences unwanted thoughts, reminders, intrusions, nightmares & hypervigilance may have developed and Acute Stress or Post Traumatic Stress response.
5. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Unwanted and unwarranted thoughts lead a person with OCD to go through a mental or physical ritual in the hopes to alleviate or distract themselves from their anxiety. It can become a debilitating and unbreakable cycle.
Am I Suffering From Anxiety?
To help you better determine whether or not you are suffering from anxiety, it is helpful to consider, in the last 6 months have you:
• Found it hard to stop worrying particularly about future events?
• Woken up in the morning and immediately felt anxious for no particular reason?
• Felt restless and on edge?
• Felt tired and have struggled to get to sleep?
• Felt irritable and annoyed for no particular reason?
• Experienced feelings of dread.
• Had muscle pain (e.g. sore back, neck, or jaw)?
While this list is certainly not designed to provide a diagnosis, it is a good starting point and guide to determine whether or not you should seek further treatment. The great news is that there is more and more awareness and understanding of anxiety and very effective techniques to treat and overcome the symptoms. Look for a Psychologist, Psychiatrist, or another mental health professional near you to take the first steps to overcoming anxiety.