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Anxiety - an overview

2-minute read

What is anxiety?

Everyone feels anxious now and then. But if anxiety doesn’t go away and is affecting your everyday life, then you might have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are very common and they can be treated.

Anxiety is an important feeling for everyone. It helps us get around safely in the world and avoid danger.

But for some people, anxious feelings don’t go away. They can see situations as much worse than they really are, and their anxiety affects their ability to concentrate, sleep and carry out ordinary tasks. These feelings can be caused by anxiety disorders.

Anxiety disorders are the most common group of mental health conditions in Australia and affects 1 in 4 Australians at some stage in their life. However, anxiety disorders can be treated. Learning about them is an important first step.

Women are more likely to develop anxiety than men, but it is not clear why. There are many forms of anxiety disorder but the one thing they have in common is their impact on day-to-day activities.

Anxiety can affect your ability to concentrate, sleep and carry out ordinary tasks at work, home or school. People with anxiety disorders often feel they have to avoid stressful situations and in extreme cases avoid going out altogether. Physical symptoms are common and include shortness of breath, a pounding heart and trembling hands.

Anxiety disorders can be caused by many things. These include genetic factors, ongoing stress, family background, physical health issues or a traumatic event.

Talking to your doctor about your anxiety symptoms will help them make a diagnosis and decide how to best treat or manage your anxiety.

At any time, if you feel that you may harm yourself or have thoughts of suicide, talk to family or friends and inform your doctor straight away. You can ring a phone service such as Lifeline 13 11 14, available 24 hours a day. If you are the loved one or carer, dial triple zero (000).

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Last reviewed: November 2018


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