If you believe that you or someone you know may be suffering from depression or have suicidal thoughts, you can learn more by clicking on the links below.
Mind Your Head is your link to help and a happier life. A qualified counsellor can talk to you about issues you may be experiencing and help you implement strategies to be happy and healthy again.
You can find a qualified Counsellor in your vicinity here: Counsellor Search
If you are experiencing overwhelming feelings of grief, pain, loss, anxiety or having thoughts of ending your life, please call the Lifeline Crisis Line immediately.
Lifeline Crisis Support
13 11 14
These and depressive disorders are the most common of all mental illnesses, anxiety alone affecting about 14 percent of the Australian population at any given time (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008). It is something that we all experience from time to time, such as when taking an important exam, undergoing a medical procedure, or making a significant life decision: for instance, whether to get married or purchase a house. Normally our bodies help us prepare for anxiety-making ordeals by releasing hormones (the “fight or flight” response) to help us deal with the stressor. In normal conditions we use up the extra hormones in the situation (for example, when running away from a mugger), and go back to being relaxed afterward. If you answered “yes” to many of the questions on the previous page, however, you may be one of those people for whom anxiety is always present. When worrying becomes a regular part of someone’s life, it affects aspects such as appetite, sleep, and – through reduced ability to concentrate -- work and study. It impacts greatly on relationships. At this level of anxiety, it could be said that you have an anxiety disorder, and there are different types of these that you could have.
You could have a Generalised Anxiety Disorder, in which you worry about things when there is no rational reason to be concerned: everything from whether you will lose your job to whether your house will be ok while you are away on holiday. Another form of anxiety is that which affects people who have undergone a traumatic experience (such as soldiers at war or bank tellers held up at gunpoint). If people are still showing strong effects of the trauma more than a month after it occurred, they could be said to have this sort of anxiety (called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
You might be someone who gets anxious in particular situations, such as when you are in a crowded mall. In this form of anxiety, you might have “an attack”, in which your body would show severe anxiety symptoms, called a panic attack. Such attacks don’t usually last more than 30 minutes. If you tend to get anxious when you are in social situations and/or when you have to perform in front of people (say, give a talk), you may be afraid that you will behave in an awkward or inappropriate way, and you therefore try to avoid such situations. This could be a social phobia. Some people have profound fears (phobias) of specific things, such as heights, mice, or going under anaesthesia.
When people have repetitive thoughts that cause them anxiety, they may feel compelled to perform certain actions to alleviate the anxiety. If you are taking more than an hour a day to do things such as extra checking or hand-washing routines, or if you hang onto items with no value way beyond when you need them, you could have an anxiety problem called Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
Anxiety disorders can be caused by hereditary factors, previous illness (e.g., heart disease, diabetes, or asthma), hormonal imbalance, or psychological factors such as stressful life events or situations, a tendency to think negatively, or learning to be helpless. Previous problems with anxiety and depression and substance abuse also play a part.
The good news is that anxiety can be treated. Different interventions are indicated for different types of anxiety disorders. There are anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs, behaviour therapy to de-sensitise the person to the anxiety triggers, therapy to change unhelpful patterns of thinking (CBT), and also lifestyle interventions, such as relaxation training, computer-aided psychological therapy, and bibliotherapy.
Use the search form below to find a counsellor who can help you with anxiety.
Mind Your Head is an initiative of the Australian Counselling Association, a national professional association for qualified Counsellors.