Anxiety is very common in Australia and is the most prevalent mental illness experienced.
Here we talk about what anxiety is and some common experiences faced by people who deal with anxiety on a day to day basis.
Do you think you may have anxiety?
Here we will talk more about symptoms, experiences and some strategies at the moment to help lower anxiety.
There are different types of anxiety but the main features of anxiety are worry or panic that does not go away for an extended period. To help us understand anxiety and the experience of it remember the 3 P’s:
- Pronounced: Anxiety is distinctly different to everyday feelings and is disproportionate to the stimuli. For example, stress over an exam is a normal response but feeling like your life will end and you are the worst person as thoughts in response do not fit and would be considered and anxiety response.
- Pervasive: Anxiety is a common experience and can build up from small agitation however to have a diagnosed anxiety disorder the experience needs to impact your level of functioning. This could stop you from completing normal tasks like completing homework, finishing a work project or socializing with other people.
- Prolonged: Anxiety does not stop quickly and can take more than 8-10 minutes to slow down without useful strategies. For example, being scared by someone moves from fear to reassuring yourself quickly that your safe however with an anxiety response, your response time in returning to a calm state takes longer.
The three P’s can help us distinguish anxiety from fear and stress which can easily be misused by people.
What is fear? Fear is a normal response to a stimuli that is dangerous and prompts us to take flight, fight or freeze in the morning in order to survive. An emotion should naturally rise and fall and so fear is experienced, you react and then this falls when you feel safe again. An anxiety response to stimuli is considered a phobia. The most commonly heard phobia is arachnophobia or fear of spiders.
What is stress? Stress is a bodily response to an upcoming event that needs attention and prompts action to complete a task. Stress can be positive in motivating someone to work on homework or complete a task or it can be negative in that it overwhelms. Everyone can have periods of stress in their life and this does not mean the person has anxiety.
So what is anxiety? Anxiety is a bodily response that is pronounced, pervasive and prolonged and is felt physically in the body.
So the ‘what is anxiety’ question us a common as we often mix up fear, anxiety and stress so hopefully the above points can help clear this up.
There are a number of anxiety symptoms associated with the experience of anxiety. Some may be present constantly, others may change in intensity over time.
Anxiety symptoms include:
- Restlessness, or feeling ‘on edge’
- Being easily fatigued
- Difficult concentrating, or your mind going blank or being easily distracted
- Difficulty focusing on anything other than the issue that is causing stress
- Muscle tension
- Sleep disturbance
All experiences of anxiety are personal and can be different each time however usually there is a particular way anxiety plays out for a person. Anxiety symptoms might be quite subtle in nature or intense and recognizing them at the subtle end can be a challenge.
So do I have Anxiety?
If you have answered yes to some or all of the above symptoms and you understand what the 3 P’s look like for you that it is quite possible that you experience anxiety.
Let’s be clear, this does not mean that you have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, simply because there are different types of anxiety disorders and criteria that you need to meet. Again anxiety can come up at different times of your life, so you may answer no to the ‘do i have anxiety’ question now but this may change in future.
We have put together some blogs for you to read through about some common anxiety disorders.
Have a read through and our intake counsellor is available to talk through your symptoms and experience over the phone to see whether counselling might be beneficial to you.