Anxiety is not something you have to live with and yet it affects some 14% of Australians every year and is the most common mental health condition. So you are not alone and with support you can gain control of this often disabling condition which can impact on your home and work life. A major difference between anxiety and stress is the duration of the symptoms in that stress may be a short-term reaction to events which can develop into anxiety and/or depression without support.
Physical – feeling tired but not being able to enjoy restful sleep, sweaty palms, a dry mouth, chest pain, loss of appetite -or over indulging in comfort eating, avoiding social situations.
Emotional – feeling fearful for no obvious reason, difficulty concentrating, intrusive negative thoughts, memory problems, loss of self-esteem.
How is anxiety treated ?
While drug treatment is sometimes necessary, the more anxiety-management skills you can learn, the faster and more durable your return to optimal health will be.
Firstly, discussing with you how anxiety is impacting on your life and what your treatment goals are to design your individual treatment plan. This plan will include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy so you will understand the nature of the disorder and the skills to manage the symptoms you are experiencing. Treatment begins with teaching you the skills to manage physical symptoms such as sleep issues or pain management with exercises such as mindful breath control, self-hypnosis and the pacing of activities.
There are many forms of this disorder and these forms may often overlap, for example:
Generalised Anxiety Disorder – Where worry is persistently impacting on your daily life and/or where you may be close to panic in everyday situations which until now you could cope with.
Panic Disorder – Affects approximately 2% of the population, is often recurrent with overwhelming feelings of anxiety. Agarophobia is one form of panic disorder.
Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Following exposure to a traumatic event. These are complex and severe reactions to a significant stressor that cause clinical impairment and which fall within the wide spectrum of Anxiety Disorders.
For more information on anxiety visit the website of ThisWayUp Clinic at St Vincents Hospital, Darlinghurst (www.thiswayup.org.au/) . Helen Mason is an accredited co-provider to this on-line program.