Worrying, feeling sad and getting stressed sometimes can all be part of our busy lives. But when worry becomes constant and affects daily life, you may have a problem.
Anxiety can become so bad you feel you can’t function properly. If it’s left untreated, it may also lead to depression. Anxiety can develop gradually which can make it difficult to work out when it has become a serious issue.
Signs of anxiety
A panic attack is a sudden, intense episode of fear that happens along with physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness and a racing heart. Panic attacks may be triggered by specific situations and generally occur in people with a diagnosis of panic disorder, but may be a symptom of other anxiety disorders. For some people, they happen regularly and worrying about them happening can cause further anxiety.
Other symptoms of anxiety may include excessively worrying about the past, present or future, feeling apprehensive or powerless, and feeling like something bad is about to happen or that you’re in danger. Your mind might race, you find it hard to think and you might have difficulty concentrating and remembering things. The feelings can become so bad that you avoid situations that make you feel anxious.
There are physical symptoms of anxiety, too. These include:
- increased heart rate
- breathing rapidly (hyperventilation) or shortness of breath
- feeling tired or weak
- dry mouth
- stomach or chest pain
- muscle tension and headaches
- difficulty sleeping and nightmares
- hot and cold flushes
- feeling tense, wound up and edgy
If some of these symptoms are impacting on your life, it’s a good idea to talk about them with a doctor, counsellor or mental health professional. It may take time to feel better, but getting professional help can support you in managing anxiety and reduce its effects on your life and wellbeing.
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 as a matter of urgency. 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