What is anxiety?

Anxiety refers to fear or worry about a future negative outcome, such as danger or threat. Anxiety symptoms include feelings of uneasiness, distress, apprehension or dread. Physical signs of our anxiety may be present, such as heart palpitations, pins and needles in arms and legs, headaches, stomach discomfort, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, shortness of breath or sweating. Anxiety often affects sleep, appetite and libido. 

Mild anxiety is a necessary part of the daily human experience and can often help motivate us to take action when needed, particularly when we are in threatening situations (e.g., crossing a busy road). A low to moderate degree of anxiety can improve our performance, such as when we realise we need to study for an upcoming test. Anxiety becomes a problem when is it is extreme and persistent or when there is no reasonable basis for the anxious symptoms. It can be very debilitating leading to problems with functioning (e.g., concentration & performance) at work and/or in relationships.

Anxiety Facts

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders, affecting nearly one in seven (14.4%) Australian adults over a 12-month period.

More women (17.9%) than men (10.8%) experience anxiety disorders

It is common for a person with an anxiety disorder to also be experiencing another anxiety disorder, depression or substance abuse

What is an anxiety disorder?

An anxiety disorder may be present when a person’s emotional reaction is out of proportion to the worry or the anticipated threat, and this anxiety causes a general problem with everyday functioning (including occupational, educational, social and other important areas)

There are six different types of anxiety disorders which can be classified according to the focus of the fear. These include: generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and specific phobia.

People can experience more than one anxiety disorder at any one time. Commonly, people with anxiety disorders often have a tendency to expect negative outcomes or to feel a loss of control over upcoming feared situations.

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