Did you know up to one-third of women and one-fifth of men will experience anxiety at some point in their lives and that anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia?
Anxiety comes in many forms and doesn’t always have negative connotations. In fact,
feeling anxious is one way our body keeps us safe from danger (think fight or flight mode), altering our body to respond to something that may be threatening. Yet, when we become constantly worried, distressed and fearful this affects our daily life and may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. It is important to seek help if you are experiencing
any symptoms or signs of anxiety.
Anxiety can feel as mild as a flutter in the stomach, or completely overwhelming; this is described as an anxiety attack where breathing becomes difficult, and an out-of-body feeling takes over.
Signs of anxiety include, but are not limited to, the following:
- 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
- Behavioural: avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious which can impact on study, work or social life.
Implementing small lifestyle changes can have immense benefits for people with anxiety.
Here are five strategies for managing anxiety you may want to consider:
- Keep active: participation in physical activities is proven to have major positive impacts on mental wellbeing, even if it is low intensity and over a short period of time.
- Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness through meditation and breath work is evidenced to
relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety. There are mindfulness apps you can use to provide support and guide you through these types of exercises.
- Support: Spending quality time with loved ones is a great approach to easing feelings of
anxiety for someone. This could be achieved through a meaningful conversation or a shared activity.
- Educate: Learning about the nature of anxiety and available treatment options can be helpful in guiding someone to take steps towards relieving their own symptoms.
- Journaling: the act of journaling allows someone to create a space where they acknowledge and actively process their feelings of anxiety, which can help to alleviate symptoms. Confiding in a blank page is an effective strategy to attain a clearer mindset.
Many people need more than self-care and require the health of their GP or other healthcare professionals to help with managing their anxiety. The good news is that there are effective treatments available, including psychological treatments (such as talking therapies) and medical treatments such as antidepressants.
First-or second-line treatment will be successful for many patients with anxiety, but it won’t be enough for everyone. It is estimated that up to 40% of patients with anxiety disorders will not achieve significant improvement with first-line treatment.1,2
If your treatment fails to relieve all symptoms – it may be time to take the next step towards your recovery.
Next-step treatments include:
- Magnetic neurostimulation
- Next-step medications
Managing anxiety and finding strategies that work for you will be unique to you and what
you feel comfortable with. If you have anxiety, or know someone who does, reach
out to someone you feel comfortable speaking with; whether that is a close friend, family
member or a health care professional. The organisations listed below can also provide
information, resources and support.
• Beyondblue.org.au/ 1300 22 4636
• Lifeline.org.au/ 13 11 14
References: 1. Bystritsky A. Mol Psychiatry, 2006;11(9):805-14. doi: 10.1038/sj.mp.4001852. 2. Garakani A, Murrough JW, Freire RC, et al. Front Psychiatry, 2020;11.