23 August 2017
Anxiety – By Interchange Australia Consultant, Anne-Marie Kennedy
Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried. While stress and anxious feelings are a common response to a situation where we feel under pressure, they usually pass once the stressful situation has passed, or ‘stressor’ is removed.
Anxiety is when these anxious feelings don’t go away – when they’re ongoing and happen without any particular reason or cause. It’s a serious condition that makes it hard to cope with daily life. Everyone feels anxious from time to time, but for someone experiencing anxiety, these feelings aren’t easily controlled.
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. On average, one in four people – one in three women and one in ﬁve men – will experience anxiety at some stage in their life. In a 12-month period, over two million Australians experience anxiety. Anxiety is common, but the sooner people with anxiety get help the more likely they are to recover.
Signs and symptoms
The symptoms of anxiety conditions are sometimes not all that obvious as they often develop slowly over time and, given we all experience some anxiety at various points in our lives, it can be hard to know how much is too much.
Normal anxiety tends to be limited in time and connected with some stressful situation or event, such as a job interview. The type of anxiety experienced by people with an anxiety condition is more frequent or persistent, not always connected to an obvious challenge, and impacts on their quality of life and day-to-day functioning. While each anxiety condition has its own unique features, there are some common symptoms including:
• Physical: panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening of the chest, quick breathing, restlessness, or feeling tense, wound up and edgy;
• Psychological: excessive fear, worry, catastrophizing, or obsessive thinking; and
• Behavioural: avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious which can impact on study, work or social life.
These are a number of signs and symptoms but type and frequency will vary from person to person.
Treatments for anxiety
A range of health professionals and services offer information, treatment and support for anxiety conditions, as well as a number of things you can do to help yourself.
Effective treatment helps you learn how to control your anxiety so it doesn’t control you. The type of treatment will depend on the type of anxiety you’re experiencing.
For mild symptoms your health professional might suggest lifestyle changes, such as regular physical exercise and reducing your stress levels. You might also like to try online e-therapies, many of which are free, anonymous and easily accessible for anyone with internet access. Where symptoms of anxiety are moderate to severe, psychological and/or medical treatments are likely to be required.
The important thing is finding the right treatment and the right health professional for your needs.
As well as seeking professional help, new research has suggested small daily acts of creativity can bolster mood and that those changes could endure. Recent studies conducted in New Zealand and the US found people engaged in more creative activities than usual on one day reported increased positive emotion. Engaging in creative pursuits allows people to enter a different world that is calming and far removed from daily stressors thus enabling the brain to ‘take a rest’ and allow positive thoughts and feelings to come to the fore.
At Interchange Australia we offer a range of opportunities for people with disability and people who are older to tap into their creativity. These include drama groups, art classes, music classes and many more.
If you would like to find out more about how you can get creative call 1300 112 334 and ask to speak with one of our friendly consultants.