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What is Anxiety?

An Anxiety disorder is a medical condition characterised by persistent, excessive worry. Anxiety disorders can take a number of forms. Common to all of these is an anxiety so distressing, it can interfere with a person’s ability to carry out or take pleasure in day-to-day life.


A person may experience more than one Anxiety disorder. Some people may also experience depression with the anxiety, or have problems with alcohol or drug abuse.


What do people experience if they have an Anxiety disorder?


A person with an Anxiety disorder will feel distressed a lot of the time for no apparent reason. An episode can be so severe it is immobilising. The person might have:

  • persistent, excessive or unrealistic worries (generalised Anxiety disorder)

  • compulsions and obsessions which they can't control (Obsessive compulsive disorder)

  • intense excessive worry about social situations (Social anxiety disorder)

  • panic attacks (Panic disorder)

  • an intense, irrational fear of everyday objects and situations (Phobia).

Other symptoms of Anxiety disorders may include: a pounding heart, difficulty breathing, upset stomach, muscle tension, sweating or choking, feeling faint or shaky.



What causes Anxiety disorders?


Anxiety disorders are thought to be caused by a combination of factors. Most anxious people are probably born with a genetic vulnerability to develop an Anxiety disorder. Personality traits and responses to stressful life events may trigger the condition or make it worse.



How many people develop Anxiety disorders?


Every year, around 14% of all adult Australians are affected by an Anxiety disorder. Women are affected more than men.



How are Anxiety disorders treated?


Treatment can help people manage, reduce or even eliminate the symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. Treatment can include:

  • Psychological therapy – an effective treatment for most people affected by Anxiety disorders

  • Medication – may also be helpful for a while.

Once a diagnosis is made (generally by a GP), treatment can be provided by a GP, or they may give a referral to a psychiatrist, psychologist or other suitably qualified health professional. With the appropriate treatment and support, most people can learn to deal with their symptoms and get on with their lives again.



The above information has been reproduced with the kind permission of SANE Australia. You can access the host content by clicking here


What are the different types of Anxiety disorders?


The six most common anxiety disorders are: 2


For more information about the specific types of anxiety, please click here:






  1. SANE Australia, (2015) Anxiety Disorder                                                                                                 Available from: (accessed on 24/11/2015)

  2.  beyondblue (2015) Anxiety 

         Available from: (accessed on 24/11/2015)



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