Posted: Jul 05 2021

Everybody will experience some level of anxiety in their lives. In fact, it is the natural way that our body tells us when we are worried about something. However, anxiety can become a problem when our bodies can’t turn off the feelings once the threat has gone away, or when we find that they are interfering with our day to day lives or stopping us from doing things we would normally do. It is a common condition, and one that over 2 million Australians will experience in any 12 month period[1].


Clinical Psychologist Tristan Duggan from Better Self Psychology says that one of the things about anxiety that we need to be aware of is “just because it feels bad, doesn’t mean it is bad”.

“Evolution has given us anxiety and the fight, flight or freeze response so that we can protect ourselves against things which might like to harm us,” Tristan says. “Back when we were cave dwellers this served us very well. However, these kind of feelings don’t always help us for circumstances such as dealing with academic stresses, finalising big projects or concerns with relationships. What we have now is a mismatch between the sources of our anxiety and our reaction.”

Tristan says that anxiety disorders occur along a spectrum. They range from acute anxieties, sometimes known as a phobia, through to generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), separation anxiety, sleep anxiety and social anxiety.

Signs and symptoms

Some of the symptoms associated with anxiety include:

  • panic attacks
  • restlessness
  • nervous energy i.e. pacing
  • racing heart
  • tightening of the chest
  • feeling of overwhelming dread
  • overthinking things – recurrent thoughts
  • excessive fear
  • avoidance
  • sleep issues

If you think that you may be experiencing anxiety, Beyond Blue’s anxiety and depression checklist may give you more insight.

When should I seek support from a professional?

Tristan says that if you are suffering from anxiety, the best thing you can do is to share your experience with someone.

“It is important to get an understanding of what your normal symptoms are, because for some people their “normal” may actually be quite high levels of distress,” Tristan says. “You can talk to a friend, a counsellor, a teacher, someone at your work’s Employee Assistance Program, or with your GP.”

If you are experiencing anxiety symptoms for a prolonged period of time and they are interfering with your day to day life, speak with your GP. Your doctor may refer you to a psychologist or other mental health professional dependent on your individual needs and symptoms.

Treatment options and strategies

Everyone is unique, therefore the right assistance and treatment will look different for everyone. There are a range of effective treatments and health professionals who can help you on the road to recovery. Some treatment options and strategies include:

  • ensuring you are eating a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise and getting enough sleep
  • practising and building mental resilience
  • staying mentally active
  • therapy sessions, which may include cognitive behaviour therapy or mindfulness
  • medication

Depending on your individual needs, your doctor will help determine the best treatment plan for you.

Online resources and support

Beyond BlueBeyond Blue has a wide range of resources to help people who are suffering from anxiety.
Black Dog InstituteBlack Dog Institute has information on different types of anxiety, as well as an anxiety self-test to help you gauge how you are feeling.
Headspace and Smiling MindApps such as Headspace and Smiling Mind are an excellent tool for guided meditations for all ages, and wellbeing tracking apps can also help.

Reviewed by Sarah Davies, registered psychologist.


Posted: Jul 05 2021


The information contained here is of a general nature and does not take into account your personal medical situation. The information is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or used for therapeutic purposes. Should you require specific medical information, please seek advice from your healthcare practitioner. Health Partners does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them.

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