Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem?

Call 1800 022 222

healthdirect Australia

This is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Is it an emergency? Dial 000

If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

beginning of content

Treatments for anxiety

Anxiety can affect your ability to concentrate.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder that can affect ability to concentrate, sleep and carry out ordinary tasks.

If you suffer from anxiety disorder, it's important to remember you are not on your own. There are services, health care professionals and online support tools available to assist people with anxiety disorders. The first step is to get a firm diagnosis. Consulting a doctor can help you in taking this first step.

The treatments for anxiety that work for you depend both on you and the type and severity of anxiety disorder you have. Mild anxiety may be helped by making lifestyle changes, whereas more severe cases may require medication.

Recovery is possible with the right care. Common treatments and ways to manage anxiety include the following.

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) involves working towards changing any problematic thinking patterns that are causing anxiety.

Behaviour therapy is a component of CBT and includes 'desensitisation', a method of slowly and safely exposing you to feared situations to reduce the anxiety that comes with them.

Breathing and relaxation techniques

Breathing and relaxation techniques are especially important for physical symptoms, and deep breathing exercises can stop panic attacks effectively. Mindfulness and other types of meditation are also helpful for anxiety management.

Moderate exercise

Exercising - even a 10-minute short walk - can help to improve how you feel and may make you feel less tired. Exercise helps boost your levels of serotonin - these are 'feel good' hormones. If you have not exercised in a long time, check with your doctor that you have no underlying health problems that might cause you to hurt yourself.

Try a brisk walk every day if you do not feel ready to undertake a rigorous exercise regime. Try to get involved in activities and pastimes you previously enjoyed - even if you don't feel like it.

There may be small tasks in the house or garden that you can do. Tackling small tasks that you may have been avoiding may help you to feel better about yourself.

Cutting down on caffeine

Caffeine can increase anxiety in some people. It can alter your sleep patterns so you are not fully rested. It also speeds up your heartbeat, which can make anxiety worse.

Try to reduce the amount of caffeine in your diet. Cutting back on tea and coffee and replacing them with water or fruit juices can help.

Avoiding caffeine products, like chocolate, cola or energy drinks after 6pm may help you feel more relaxed when you want to go to sleep.

Alcohol in moderation

If you are feeling anxious, you may feel like drinking more alcohol than usual, but this will make the anxiety worse, so you should try to drink alcohol in moderation.

The government recommends that healthy adults drink no more than two standard drinks a day and no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion. A standard drink contains 10g of alcohol. For example, 285mL of full strength beer contains 1.1 standard drinks and a small glass of wine (100mL) is one standard drink.

Quitting smoking

Quitting smoking is one of the best ways to improve your overall health and wellbeing. It can also help reduce anxiety. If you need help with quitting you should visit your doctor for advice or visit the Quitnow website.


Medication such as antidepressants may be necessary if the above approaches are not enough. Medication is usually recommended in combination with the measures described above.

Treatment for anxiety can take time, and a good support network makes the process easier. But letting go of and recovering from anxiety is achievable.

Online support tools

Online tools may be suitable if you have mild to moderate anxiety. There is a range of different programs, most of which are backed up by phone, email, text or web chat support from a mental health specialist. These online therapies can be particularly helpful if you are living in a rural and remote area where access to health professionals may be more difficult.

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).

Last reviewed: November 2016

Recommended links

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 92 results

Anxiety online treatment programs

Read more on Mental Health Online website

Treatments for anxiety

There are many health professionals and services available to help with anxiety information, treatment and support

Read more on beyondblue website

What works for anxiety

There is a wide range of treatments for anxiety. While each treatment has its supporters, treatments vary a lot in how much supporting scientific evidence is behind them.

Read more on beyondblue website

Anxiety in teenagers

Anxiety disorders can be especially serious for teenagers as they are still developing. Learn more about how anxiety can affect teenagers and how to get help.

Read more on mindhealthconnect website

Separation anxiety

Discover trusted information, online programs, fact sheets, communities, audio and video resources on Separation anxiety from leading Australian health organisations.

Read more on mindhealthconnect website

Always Tired?

Read more on CareSearch website

Step 2. Online Assessment

Read more on Mental Health Online website

Online support and treatments for anxiety

Read more on beyondblue website

Treatment of antenatal anxiety in pregnancy

HomeAbout Pre-pregnancy Pregnancy Birth First year Fathers & partners Family & friends Health Professionals Get Help Support Us

Read more on COPE - Centre of Perinatal Excellence website

Treatment of postnatal anxiety - COPE

HomeAbout Pre-pregnancy Pregnancy Birth First year Fathers & partners Family & friends Health Professionals Get Help Support Us

Read more on COPE - Centre of Perinatal Excellence website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo