Understanding what is anxiety? Free Suncare resources

Understanding what is anxiety? Free Suncare resources

Anxiety is a diagnosable mental health condition which can result in intense feelings of anxiousness (often without reason), which don’t go away for long periods of time. 

As one of the most common mental health conditions in Australia, it is predicted that on average, 1 in 4 people will experience anxiety at some time in their life. 

If you are concerned about how anxiety may be affecting you or someone you know, our guide can help you identify the symptoms and types of anxiety and options for seeking help.

Different types of anxiety

  • Generalised anxiety disorders –This type of anxiety results in a person feeling irrationally anxious or worried most of the time.
  • Social anxiety – Symptoms of social anxiety include the fear of being judged, laughed at or criticised in normal everyday situations, such as when meeting new people for the first time.
  • Phobias – A phobia is an intense, irrational fear of a specific object or event that is out of proportion to the actual threat. A phobia prevents sufferers from going about daily their life.
  • Panic disorders – Panic disorders are when a person experiences panic attacks involving uncontrolled and overwhelming feelings of anxiety coupled with physical symptoms such as shortness of breath. 

Different causes of anxiety

Anxiety is usually caused by a combination of factors, including:

  • A family genetic predisposition;
  • A specific personality type (for example people who are perfectionists, people who lack self-esteem, people who are easily agitated or need control); and
  • Stressful life experiences (for example large changes in day to day life such as significant changes in a workplace or school environment), a relationship breakdown, bereavement, financial difficulty or excessive drug and alcohol use).

Symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety can cause psychological, physical and behavioural symptoms. Anxiety affects different people differently and symptoms may be relatively mild through to severe physical symptoms, which may include:

Psychological symptoms:

  • Excessive worry (about past events or what might happen in the future);
  • Nervousness or feeling on edge;
  • Poor concentration and difficulty making decisions;
  • Feelings of panic or fear when there is no real danger;
  • Irritability, impatience, anger, confusion; and
  • Compulsions or obsessions.

Physical and behavioural symptoms:

  • Feeling tense, wound up and edgy;
  • Difficulty relaxing or sleeping;
  • Quick breathing;
  • Racing heart;
  • Trembling and sweating;
  • Muscle tension;
  • Dizziness or faintness; and/or
  • Avoiding situations that make you feel anxious.

Help is available

There are a range of effective treatments available for most types of anxiety. Treatments may include simple lifestyle changes (for example physical exercise) and techniques to reduce stress for mild anxiety, through to psychological or medical treatments for more moderate to severe cases of anxiety. It’s important to talk with a health professional to work out which treatment option is best for your situation.

Practices which may help manage anxiety include:

  • Slow breathing techniques;
  • Mindfulness;
  • Muscle relaxation exercises; and
  • Healthy lifestyle changes (such as diet, exercise or connecting with friends or family).

Information and advice supplied by wellbeing partner Mindstar

Resources and support

  • Beyond Blue Call 1300 224 636 24 hours / 7 days a week to talk with a trained mental health professional.  
  • Lifeline 13 11 14 - A 24-hour, nationwide service that provides telephone and online counselling.  
  • Mind health connect provides mental health and wellbeing information, support and services in Australia.