Anxiety Disorders are perhaps the most prevalent form of mental illness experienced by Australians. Indeed, the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing reported that a significant one in seven (14.4%) persons had suffered from some form of anxiety issue sometime in the previous 12 months.
Anxiety is a debilitating experience and one which can impact heavily on your confidence, capacity and overall enjoyment of life.
Anxiety generally falls into the following categories or types:
1. A Panic Attack is an incident of acute panic or fear in which the body’s flight or fight response kicks in for no apparent reason. Typically, your heart will start racing, your body may tremble, you’ll feel dizzy or weak, and you’ll experience a tightening of your chest. Since these symptoms are all physiological and reminiscent of heart failure, it is not uncommon for people experiencing their first attack of panic to think they are having a heart attack. Panic disorder happens when the attacks continue. The problem then intensifies because the sufferer faces the additional fear of a reoccurring attack – wondering when and where it might strike again.
2. Specific Phobia is anxiety about a specific thing, situation or place. Specific phobias include a fear of cockroaches or vermin, a fear of flying or a fear of clowns. Agoraphobia is a specific phobia in which people fear places in which they feel it might be difficult to escape. Small or constrained spaces are common, but so are overly crowded places. Agoraphobia is a debilitating form of anxiety because it restricts people’s freedom of movement and capacity to socialise, and in severe cases, leaves them home-bound.
3. Generalised Anxiety Disorder is not relatable to a specific fear or phobia but is rather a feeling that tends to sit with you – generally as a low-lying sense of apprehension – always or most often. It is characterised by general feelings of worry, nervousness and angst – and is often accompanied by an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach. People with Generalised Anxiety Disorder tend to have irrational feelings of fear about everyday things – health, money, work or family. Other symptoms include restlessness, irritability, over-analysis of issues, and problems falling asleep or staying asleep (insomnia). Generalised Anxiety Disorder is usually only diagnosed if the symptoms have persisted for over 6 months.
4. Social Anxiety Disorder is similar to agoraphobia because it interferes with a person’s capacity to socialise and be around people in large groups. Social Anxiety Disorder is an extreme fear of social occasions and is usually associated with substantial lack of self-confidence. People with social anxiety disorder are tremendously self-consciousness, and highly susceptible to feelings of embarrassment and humiliation. People with social anxiety will keenly avoid social situations which this results in a loss of social interaction and friendships. A fear of public speaking, and problems associated with overt blushing, are both examples of social anxiety.
5. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a form of anxiety or severe stress that develops in a response to a traumatic experience. Veterans of war are prime candidates for PTSD, as are the victims of crime and abuse. People suffering from PTSD often experience a sense of re-living the traumatic event, in which case they can be feel overwrought or in despair. Others experience sensations of emotional detachment, as if their feelings have been neutralised. Often, people with PTSD swing between these two responses, which makes them irritable, agitated and susceptible to drug and alcohol addiction.
Whatever the form, anxiety is likely to have a significant impact on your quality of life, on your relationships with family and friends, and on your work. But anxiety doesn’t have to be a part of your life. A counsellor can help you:
- Diagnose your anxiety and better understand your symptoms
- Understand the underlying causes of your anxiety
- Give you processes and strategies to help you manage your symptoms
- Change your behaviour so that you learn less anxious responses
- Establish a plan for recovery
Your counsellor can help you live an anxiety-free life and will provide you with much needed emotional support along the way.
Contact us today to see how one of our counsellors can help you.