Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry or fear. Everyone feels anxious at some point in their life, but for some people it can be an ongoing problem. Although we used the words “anxiety” and “stress” interchangeably, they are slightly different.
Stress is a response to a specific threat or challenge, and subsides when the stressor is removed.
Anxiety is often anticipatory, does not always have a trigger, and even after stressors are dealt with, a person may still feel anxious.
A little bit of anxiety and stress can be helpful; for example, feeling anxious or stressed before an exam might make you more alert and improve your performance. But too much of either could make you tired and unable to concentrate.
Symptoms of anxiety
Anxiety can have both psychological and physical symptoms. Psychological symptoms can include:
feeling worried or uneasy a lot of the time
having difficulty sleeping, which makes you feel tired
not being able to concentrate
being extra alert and hyper-vigilant
feeling on edge or not being able to relax
needing frequent reassurance from other people
Depending on the type of anxiety, symptoms vary. For example, if someone suffers from social anxiety, their symptoms will be markedly different from someone who suffers from claustrophobia (fear of being enclosed in small spaces, such as elevators).
When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, your body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These cause the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as an increased heart rate and increased sweating.
Physical symptoms can include:
- a pounding heartbeat and heart palpitations
- breathing faster
- dry mouth
- feeling sick or nauseous
- feeling faint or sweating
- loss of appetite
- needing the toilet more frequently
Is anxiety bad for you?
A little anxiety is fine, but long-term anxiety may lead to more serious health, social, and occupational difficulties. If you’re feeling anxious much of the time, or it’s affecting your day-to-day life, it’s best to seek support.
Help for anxiety
There are effective treatments available for anxiety, so do talk to your GP if you think you may benefit. If your GP thinks counselling with a psychologist may be helpful, they may create a Mental Health Care Plan for you, which (if eligible) will heavily subsidize your counselling sessions.
If you’d like more information on how to access a Mental Health Care Plan and pricing for counselling at Your Mind Matters Psychology Services, please call us on (03)9809 5947, or email us, as we can walk you through the process.