What is anxiety
While everyone feels anxious from time to time, some people experience these feelings so often and/or so strongly that it can affect their everyday lives.
Often people confuse anxiety disorders with stress. Stress is a normal reaction to a situation where a person feels under pressure (such as a work deadline or exam). However, for some people these feelings are ongoing, happen for no apparent reason or continue after the stressful event has passed.
There are a number of anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety (GAD), phobias and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Click here to find out more about the different types of anxiety.
How common are anxiety disorders?
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in Australia. Nearly one in 10 people will experience some type of anxiety disorder in any one year - around one in 12 women and one in eight men. One in four people will experience an anxiety disorder at some stage of their lives.
What are the treatments offered at the R.E.A.D Clinic?
All treatments at our clinic are based on evidence-based and best practice guidelines for the treatment of psychological disorders and difficulties. Based on these guidelines and your anxiety diagnosis your clinician will advise you as to whether your symptoms are best treated by
- Individual therapy – you will see a therapist in a one-on-one context for an average of around 6-12 sessions. This is the usual therapy provided for obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias and trauma.
- Group therapy – you will join a group of individuals with a similar diagnosis for approximately a 10 week program. This is often helpful for clients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- A combination of both individual and group therapy. This is suitable for those clients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or a combination of anxiety disorders.
How do I get assesed and allocated to the appropriate treatment program for me?
Once you have made an appointment (CLICK HERE to find out more about making an appointment) you will receive an initial assessment with one of our clinicians who will then decide with you on the most appropriate treatment for your symptoms and your personal preference.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
People who have GAD feel anxious on most days for at least six months. Generally, they worry about real issues such as finances, illness or family problems - to the point where it can affect their everyday lives. At times their worry is so great they:
- Feel edgy/restless
- Feel tired
- Have difficulty concentrating
- Develop muscle tension (sore back, neck or jaw, headaches)
- Find it hard to fall/stay asleep
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD involves bursts of anxiety that happen after a person experiences a major emotional shock following a stressful event (i.e., a trauma). PTSD can be brought on by being involved in or witnessing distressing situations such as war, a major accident or natural disaster, abuse or neglect, or chronic illness.
CLICK HERE to find out more information about treatment for trauma related to sexual abuse and assault.
The symptoms of PTSD include:
- Flashbacks (e.g. upsetting intrusive thoughts about a distressing event)
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of interest in activities the person used to find enjoyable
- Feeling on edge/irritable
- Being very alert and easily startled
- Difficulty concentrating
- Finding it hard to remember parts of the traumatic event
When a person has a phobia, they feel very fearful about particular objects or situations. Common phobias include:
- Social phobia – fear of social situations, such as parties and meetings
- Agoraphobia – fear of open spaces, such as parks and big shopping centres
- Claustrophobia – fear of small spaces, such as lifts, airplanes and crowded rooms
- Zoophobia – fear of animals
- Acrophobia – fear of heights
- Mysophobia – fear of dirt and germs in places such as toilets and kitchens
A panic attack is an intense feeling of anxiety that seems like it cannot be brought under control. Panic attacks can include short bursts of:
- Feeling anxious
- Feelings of dread (e.g. that something bad is going to happen)
- Feeling lightheaded and/or nauseous
- Breathing difficulties (e.g. shortness of breath)
- Having tingles or chills
- Trembling or shaking
- Having chest pains or a tight chest
- Having thoughts such as “I must be going crazy” or “Something bad is going to happen”
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive compulsive disorder gets its name because people who experience it have ongoing unwanted/intrusive thoughts and fears that cause anxiety – often called obsessions. These obsessions make people feel they need to carry out certain rituals in order to feel less anxious and these are known as compulsions.
Common obsessions are:
- Fear of forgetting to do things (e.g. turning off appliances or locking doors)
- Fear of being contaminated by things that are unclean (e.g. dirty cutlery, crockery, food, keys, door handles and toilets)
- Fear of not being able to do things in an exact or orderly way
- Fear of becoming sick, having an accident or dying
- Intrusive thoughts about violence, accidents or sex
Common compulsions are:
- Concerns about personal hygiene resulting in constant washing of hands or clothing, showering or brushing of teeth
- Constantly cleaning, tidying or rearranging in a particular way things at home, at work or in the car
- Constantly checking that doors and windows are locked and appliances are turned off
- Continually seeking reassurances by repeatedly asking questions of family and friends
- Hoarding items such as newspapers, books, food or clothing
In the short term, giving in to these compulsions can make people with OCD feel less anxious. However, the anxiety returns and with it comes the need to carry out the ritual again…and this cycle continues. OCD affects 2 to 3 percent of people in Australia at some time in their lives.