Anxiety and Its Treatment

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry or fear. Anxiety feels different for everyone. 

A little bit of anxiety can be helpful – for example, feeling anxious before an exam might make you more alert and improve your performance. But too much anxiety could make you tired and unable to concentrate. Everyone feels anxious at some point in their life, but for some people it can be an ongoing problem.

Anxiety based Conditions

There are a number of conditions that fall under the category of anxiety disorders, the most common of which are:

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Phobias (Specific Phobia)
  • Agoraphobia
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder

Mental Health Symptoms

Symptoms of these particular conditions will vary, but the most common symptoms seen in anxiety include:

  • Frequent excessive worry and anxiety
  • Difficulty managing the worry/anxiety
  • Feeling restless or on edge
  • Insomnia
  • Appetite changes
  • Feeling overwhelmed and/or panicked
  • Difficulty with concentration, attention, or memory
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Social withdrawal

Physical Symptoms

Anxiety can have some of the following effects on your body, and even some other effects that aren't listed here, everyone is different:

  • a churning feeling in your stomach
  • feeling light-headed or dizzy
  • pins and needles
  • feeling restless or unable to sit still
  • headaches, backache or other aches and pains
  • faster breathing
  • a fast, thumping or irregular heartbeat
  • sweating or hot flushes
  • problems sleeping
  • grinding your teeth, especially at night
  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • needing the toilet more or less often
  • changes in your sex drive
  • having panic attacks
  • Muscle tension
  • Shortness of breath, rapid or shallow breathing, or holding your breath
  • feeling shaky

The good news is that there are very effective treatments for anxiety disorders. Mental health professionals like psychologists and social workers can assist you to address symptoms of anxiety using a range of therapeutic models such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and Exposure Therapy, among others. A number of therapeutic interventions are introduced, which may include:

  • Education about anxiety, symptoms, and the factors that increase or reinforce anxiety
  • Identification and self-monitoring of symptoms
  • Improving sleep
  • Relaxation training and breathing exercises
  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Increasing exercise and physical activity
  • Pleasant activities
  • Problem solving
  • Behavioural experiments
  • Skill development (e.g. social skills training, increasing independence, mastery, and confidence)
  • Exposure treatment
  • Cognitive strategies to address unhelpful thinking patterns and worried thoughts
  • Improving social support and relationships/interactions or managing conflict
  • Stress management

Helpful Websites

Further information about anxiety can be found at the following websites:

Useful Apps

Apps can be useful to monitor and manage anxiety. Here is a list of apps that you may wish to consider to get started:

  • Smiling Mind
  • MyLife Meditation (previously Stop, Breathe & Think)
  • Self Help for Anxiety Management (SAM)
  • Happify: For Stress & Worry
  • What’s Up?
  • Breathe2Relax
  • Medito (for meditation and sleep)
  • Mindshift
  • Calm

Our clinicians at The Hummingbird Centre are skilled and experienced in assisting people to address anxiety and improve their quality of life.

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