Overview

What is Anxiety & Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety is a normal response to stress that can serve a useful purpose: helping us avoid situations that threaten our sense of security. Anxiety disorders, however, occur when the degree of anxiety experienced is disproportionate to the threat posed by given circumstances. There are differnt types of anxiety disorders including generalised anxiety disorders, social anxiety disorder, phobias, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety disorders arise from complex interactions between the brain, the body’s stress response network, and even the gut microbiome. Untreated, anxiety disorders may lead to depression.

Symptoms

What are the signs of Anxiety & Anxiety Disorders?

The main features of an anxiety disorder are fears or thoughts that are chronic (constant) and distressing and that interfere with daily living. Other symptoms of an anxiety disorder may include:

Panic or anxiety attacks

Panic or anxiety attacks

Hot and cold flushes

Hot and cold flushes

Rapid heartbeat

Rapid heartbeat

Tightening of the chest

Tightening of the chest

Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath

Restlessness/difficulty concentrating

Restlessness/difficulty concentrating

Sleep disturbances

Sleep disturbances

Feeling tense, wound up and edgy

Feeling tense, wound up and edgy

Excessive fear, worry, catastrophising, or obsessive thinking

Excessive fear, worry, catastrophising, or obsessive thinking

Avoidance behaviour

Avoidance behaviour

Causes

What are the causes of Anxiety & Anxiety Disorders?

Everyone experiences anxiety and fear at times – these are normal and helpful human emotions that help us deal with danger. However, some people experience excessive and irrational anxiety and worries that become ongoing and distressing, and that interfere with their daily lives. Some risk factors associated with anxiety disorders include:

Personal or family history of anxiety disorder or other mental illness

Personal or family history of anxiety disorder or other mental illness

Gender – women are nearly twice as likely as men to develop an anxiety disorder

Gender – women are nearly twice as likely as men to develop an anxiety disorder

Chronic stress

Chronic stress

Experiencing traumatic or stressful events

Experiencing traumatic or stressful events

Lifestyle factors, including smoking, illicit drug and alcohol use

Lifestyle factors, including smoking, illicit drug and alcohol use

Diagnosis

How do I know if I have Anxiety or Anxiety Disorders?

Diagnosing anxiety disorders involves screening through careful history-taking, ruling out other causes of anxious symptoms, and use of diagnostic surveys, usually performed by a psychologist or psychiatrist. Additional tests that may assist the process include:

Stress hormone profile

Stress hormone profile

Find a Practitioner

See a list of practitioners who are specialised in treating Anxiety & Anxiety Disorders.