If life is in danger
call 000

Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions in Australia. While we may all experience anxiety at some point in life, it is important to seek help to manage the anxiety if it is affecting your ability to function in a regular way.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is excessive and uncontrollable anticipation of future perceived threats. Feeling anxious in certain situations can help us avoid danger, triggering our 'fight or flight' response. This is how we have evolved to keep ourselves safe. However, when your worries don’t go away, happen for no particular reason, are out of proportion to the situation or get in the way of your daily life, this may indicate that you have an anxiety disorder.

It is important to seek help if you feel that anxiety is interfering with your daily functioning. There are many effective treatments which can help to reduce or manage anxiety.

Are you or someone you know experiencing anxiety?

Below are some of the most common signs and symptoms associated with anxiety:

  • Feeling ‘on edge’ or unable to stop worrying
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Shortness of breath or breathing rapidly
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep disturbance, fatigue and exhaustion
  • Physical reactions such as headaches, muscle tension, upset stomach
  • Feeling lightheaded, faint, or dizzy
  • Avoiding situations which make you feel anxious.

Everyone will manage anxiety differently and it can take time to find the strategies that work best for you. Below are some strategies you may find helpful if you are experiencing anxiety:

  1. Identify how you are feeling, acknowledge your emotional response and accept your experience.
  2. Talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling.
  3. If this is helpful for you, focus on your breathing.
    Count to five as you breathe in slowly – then count to five as you breathe out slowly.
  4. Stay in the present moment. Anxiety can make your thoughts live in a future that hasn’t happened yet, so try to bring yourself back to where you are. Practising mindfulness can help.
  5. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Keeping active, eating well, avoiding alcohol and other drugs (including caffeine), going out into nature, spending time with family and friends, reducing stress and doing the activities you enjoy are all effective in reducing anxiety and improving your wellbeing.
  6. Other therapies such as massage, yoga, and meditation may also be something you find helpful in managing symptoms of anxiety.

    Remember, if your anxiety is becoming difficult to manage, seek support from a professional such as your GP, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

    It can be very difficult to know what to do and how to cope, but help is available. Below are some places to go for information and support. If life is in danger, please call 000.

    • Beyond Blue - a free helpline provides advice and support via telephone - 1300 22 4636 and Beyond Blue - Web Chat (between 3pm-12am)
    • Mensline Australia - a 24/7 free online and phone counselling service for men - 1300 789 978
    • Kids Helpline - free, confidential 24/7 online and phone counselling service for young people aged 5-25 - 1800 55 1800 or About WebChat Counselling | Kids Helpline
    • Mindspot Clinic - provides free, anonymous assessment and treatment for adults experiencing stress, anxiety, and OCD. mindspot.com.au
    • My Compass - online, self-guided program for people experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety. MyCompass
    • This Way Up - online, evidence-based CBT course for anxiety. You can get instant access for $59 or speak with your GP to enrol for free. thiswayup.org.au
    • The Brave Program - a free online program for the prevention and treatment of childhood and adolescent anxiety. BRAVE Self-Help Program (uq.edu.au)
    • Smiling Mind App - a program developed by psychologists to help bring balance to people’s lives through mindfulness. App - Smiling Mind
    • Attend your GP to create a mental health treatment plan. This plan entitles you to Medicare rebates for up to 20 sessions per year with some allied mental health professionals. See more information at the Services Australia website.

     

    For Crisis Support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 (available 24/7), chat online at lifeline.org.au (12pm – 6am AEDT) or text 0477 13 11 14 (12pm - 6am AEDT).

    Mal's story

    Mal has worked in some of the best restaurants in the world but the pressure, long hours, and the chaos started to take its toll on his mental health, leading to severe anxiety. Here, he shares how he got support and what has helped him on his journey.