Anxiety Disorder

There are many types of anxiety disorder. Learn their symptoms, so you can better seek treatment.

Anxiety and fear are common emotions. But, while fear is a normal response to a perceived threat, anxiety is an unwarranted or inappropriate fear or response to a vague or ill-defined threat.

Anxiety can be a normal or an appropriate emotion when dealing with day-to-day stresses or problems. However, when anxiety is persistent, excessive and irrational, this may affect:

  • The way a person leads his life
  • The person’s ability to work
  • The person’s ability to cope with the demands of life or relationships

When this happens, the anxiety becomes an abnormal condition or disorder.

There are different types of anxiety disorders characterised by anxiety or fear as the predominant emotion. They include phobia, generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, acute stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Signs of Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety triggers unpleasant mental symptoms such as:
  • Apprehension
  • Confusion
  • Feeling keyed up or on edge
  • A sense of helplessness
  • Worry
  • Repeated negative thoughts

It also triggers a wide range of physical symptoms such as:
  • Muscle tension and weakness
  • Pounding heart (palpitations)
  • Difficulty breathing

Treatment for Anxiety Disorder

There are effective treatments readily available, including both anxiety disorder medication and psychotherapy. The aims of treatment are to reduce and eventually eliminate the signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders, and to restore psychosocial roles and occupational functioning.

Anxiety disorders respond well to treatment, particularly if they are identified and treated early. Benzodiazepines and antidepressants are effective medicines, and when used with psychological therapies, can result in a lowered risk of relapse and better symptom control. Effective psychological therapies include cognitive behaviour therapy and exposure and response prevention therapies.

Understanding how your lifestyle can effect symptoms is also a crucial factor in treatment. Finding out your personal anxiety disorder trigger(s) can help start to solve the issue. People living in high-stress environments who possess poor coping strategies for day-to-day issues will find simple strategies, such as relaxation techniques and regular exercise, effective in reducing anxiety and contributing to emotional well-being.

To make an appointment to see a doctor, please call the Institute of Mental Health at 6389 2200.


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