Anxiety is a common emotion that we all experience from time to time, particularly during stressful situations. While anxiety is an unpleasant emotion, it is a signal that something needs to be done or changed.
An anxiety disorder occurs when the symptoms of anxiety are severe to the point where they interfere with one’s daily life and activities. Severe anxiety symptoms can also prevent an individual from effectively addressing the very problems causing the anxiety itself, which leads to a self-perpetuating cycle.
An anxiety disorder can take many different forms. People affected by problems such as phobia and social anxiety may experience overwhelming anxieties in specific situations or circumstances. In some cases, such people can also have a panic disorder and experience severe panic attacks. Avoidance of these situations or circumstances, in order to avoid anxiety, can result in a great deal of disruption to their lives.
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) occurs when a person experiences relentless problems with anxiety symptoms. The triggers causing the anxiety may be multiple or difficult to understand. GAD can result in problems with sleep difficulties and appetite. A person’s ability to tolerate stress and conflict can also be compromised. This could be experienced as problems with work ‘burnout’ or conflict in personal relationships.
Conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are also classified as anxiety disorders as they contain a significant anxiety component. Managing anxiety forms an important part of treating these conditions.
It is important to seek treatment for an anxiety disorder. Some individuals may be susceptible to using less helpful ways of coping, for example avoidance, or use of addictive substances like drugs and alcohol. Treatment involves adequately controlling symptoms, managing symptoms that are harder to control and developing an understanding of the nature of these symptoms. Various interventions can be helpful, including meditation and mindfulness, relaxations techniques, psychotherapy and certain medications. Successful treatment often involves combinations of these interventions.
Our Psychiatrists at Randwick Psychiatry are available to provide specialised multimodal treatment and support for anxiety disorders. Please contact us to arrange a consultation.
If you have concerns that you or someone you know has a mental health condition and that there are serious immediate concerns for that person’s safety, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Emergency help can be accessed through your nearest hospital or by dialling ‘000’ in Australia.