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Understanding Anxiety

Anxiety is a multifaceted yet very normal human emotion that involves certain thought patterns, physical sensations, and behaviours. Everyone will experience anxiety differently so it's important to learn how to understand what anxiety is trying to tell us and learn how to manage it when it’s no longer helpful.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal human emotion which we will all feel at various points in our lives. It's our body's way of telling us that there might be a threat or that there might be something stressing us out. 

But when it becomes an every day occurrence, or when it stops us from doing things we want to do, it's important to learn how to understand what it’s trying to tell us and how to manage it when it’s no longer helpful.

Thought patterns include worrying about the worst-case scenario, spending a lot of time thinking about how a situation will play out, excessive ‘planning’ in your mind as well as others.

Physical sensations in their most extreme can present as panic attacks but can also be a noticeable increase of heart rate, breathlessness, tension, feeling sick in the stomach, shakiness, or restlessness. 

Behaviours can include active avoidance of things that make you feel anxious, or what’s called a safety behaviour that people engage in to get through the anxiety-inducing situation e.g. needing a particular friend at a party to get through the social interactions as a ‘safety net’. Other behaviours can include irritability and indecisiveness.

All of these experiences can fall under the umbrella term of anxiety.

How many people are affected by Anxiety?

Based on data collected in the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing 2.3 million Australians had anxiety disorders in the previous 12 months. At that time, that was 14.4% (1 in 7) of Australians aged between 16 – 85 years old.

Anxiety disorders include Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Phobias (including Agoraphobia) and Panic Disorder.

How can a Psychologist help?

As Psychologists, we start by helping clients understand anxiety and how to notice feelings of anxiety. We then look at when anxiety might have a useful  purpose (i.e. protecting us from potential threats) or, when it might get in the way of us leading a meaningful and fulfilling life (e.g. wanting to throw up during a presentation). Together, we can help you understand and utilise different strategies to bring feelings of anxiety to a proportionate and manageable level. 

This can be done using Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy or Acceptance Commitment Therapy. These therapies look at the relationship between our thoughts and feelings and how we can change our relationship and responses to our thoughts. These therapies are also shared in conjunction with relaxation and mindfulness strategies.

 

Conclusion

If you're ready to start understanding anxiety better, learn how to listen to it when it’s useful, and bring it down a couple of notches when it’s getting in the way of living a meaningful life, reach out to us over the phone or email. 

For more information or to book an appointment with one of our experienced Psychologists, call the team at Reimagine Psychology Melbourne on (03) 8330 5588 or email us on hello@reimaginepsychology.melbourne.