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.
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 life. In a 12-month period, over two million Australians experience anxiety.
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. 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, catastrophising, or obsessive thinking; and
- Behavioural: avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious which can impact on study, work or social life.
For mild symptoms your health professional might suggest lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and reducing your stress levels.
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, 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.
Interchange Australia offers a range of opportunities for people with disability and people who are older to tap into their creativity and to reduce anxiety. These include art classes, music classes and many more.
- This article was written by an Interchange Australia Consultant. Details: www.interchangeau.org or 1300 112 334.