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Anxiety 101

The most commonly diagnosed and treated mental health disorder in Australia is Anxiety. Did you know however that Anxiety is a perfectly normal and healthy part of our makeup.

Anxiety is a part of our evolutionary makeup. A leftover instinct from when our ancestors were hunters and gatherers.....The concern for being killed by a wild animal was very real. This anxiety kept them alive, and instinctively, continues in modern day to help keep us alive and away from danger with our "fight or flight" response to an event. Anxiety can act as our warning sign to pay closer attention to the thing that may be causing us to worry or be fearful, and avoid it.

With all that being said, Anxiety can occur without a threat of being hurt or killed i.e. taking a test. Anxiety becomes a disorder when it is so intense that it makes you suffer, or you are unable to carry out everyday tasks in your life without being overwhelmed.

Some Types of Commonly Diagnosed Anxiety Disorders:

Separation Anxiety - This is most commonly experienced in children being separated from their parent or caregiver, however, it can also be experienced in parents when separated from their child. Separation Anxiety involves intense fear or anxiety at the prospect of being away from, or losing our loved ones. Read our blog on back to school anxiety

Generalised Anxiety Disorder - Children diagnosed with GAD worry about a wide variety of everyday things. This worry becomes problematic when it is excessive, carries on for a long duration, affects their ability to enjoy and participate in every day activities, and/or the things they are worried about aren't typically threatening i.e. school performance. Some of the symptoms of GAD can include:

  • Panic Attacks

  • Easily fatigued

  • Muscle Tension

  • Difficulty clearing the mind and concentrating

  • Sleeping problems

  • Constant worry

  • Constantly feeling on edge for no cause

  • Irritability

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - This can be best described as obsessions (persistent unwanted distressing thoughts/urges/images that require effort to ignore); compulsions (repetitive acts performed to alleviate the distress or calm the obsessions); or a combination of both. People with OCD often feel intense shame about their obsessions and/or compulsions. In children this can lead to a delay in diagnosis and treatment, as they will often not be able to explain their obsessions, and carry out compulsions in secret to avoid ridicule or discussion. People suffering with OCD may also be suffering from other mental health conditions.

Social Anxiety Disorder - This is when a person has an intense fear of being judged, criticised, embarrassed or humiliated in everyday situations like public speaking, eating in public, making small talk, socialising with new and old friends, and more recently.... how they are viewed on social media and in gaming.

Specific Phobias - A specific phobia is exactly as the name suggest, a person that feels great fear of an object or a situation, and may go to great lengths to avoid it. There are many types of specific phobias, some of the more common ones you may have heard of include

  • Animals - Fear of spiders, snakes, dogs

  • Natural Environment - Fear of heights, storms, water etc

  • Agoraphobia - Fear of leaving the home

  • Blood-injection-injury - Fear of medical procedures, injections or needles.

Panic Disorder - A person suffering from panic disorder will suffer panic attacks that are overwhelming and most often uncontrollable feelings of anxiety. It can often be linked to physical symptoms like shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, excessive perspiration, and chest pain.

How do we treat Anxiety

The evidence-based therapy of choice is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT is a structured psychological treatment which recognises the way we think (Cognition) and act (Behaviour) affects the way we feel.

Early intervention is key when treating excessive anxiety.


If you have any questions speak to your GP, or take advantage of our free 20 minute free phone consult. We can help answer any questions you may have.

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