Anxiety Treatment Australia
Anxiety Treatment Australia provides information about anxiety disorders and the treatment options available. You will also find information on psychologists around Australia who treat anxiety disorders and who offer group therapy and workshops.
This website is brought to you by Catherine Madigan, a Melbourne based Clinical Psychologist who specialises in the treatment of Anxiety Disorders.
For an appointment phone 0419 104 284 or 03 9819 3671 or email catherine@socialanxietyassist.
Anxiety Treatment Australia offers therapy in Melbourne for disorders such as:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (excessive worrying)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (e.g. this condition may develop after: a motor vehicle accident, an assault, or some other event where the individual was exposed to a life threatening or severely injurious situation which involved themself or others).
- Panic Disorder (anxiety attacks)
- Specific Phobias (e.g. heights, dogs, spiders, blood etc.)
- Social Anxiety (fear of being negatively judged or evaluated by others)
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder (excessive preoccupation with one’s appearance, worrying about an imagined defect or blowing out of proportion a slight flaw in one’s appearance).
The Incidence of Anxiety Disorders in Australia
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in Australia, with 1/7 people (14% of the population) reporting having had an anxiety disorder in the last 12 months. Women are more likely to have an anxiety disorder than men, 18% vs 11%.
ABS National Survey of Mental Health & Wellbeing, Summary of Results 2007.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety or fear is a normal response to a present or imagined threat. Mild fear can be helpful as it enables us to respond quickly when faced with a dangerous situation and to be alert in difficult situations (e.g. exams). However, excessive fear may lead to people being paralysed e.g. soldiers under attack may be so afraid they can’t move to take cover, public speakers may find they go blank, forget their lines and are rendered speechless.
Anxiety is a normal emotion as it affects most people and is widespread. You would be abnormal if you didn’t experience fear sometimes. However, if your anxiety is out of proportion to the situation you are experiencing and/or persists in the absence of threat, e.g you worry about events months ahead or are experiencing anxiety long after the danger has passed, you may need professional help.
Why am I experiencing anxiety symptoms?
Some people are more prone to experiencing anxiety than others and it is not caused by just one thing but by a combination of factors including: genetics, family environment and traumatic life experiences. Sufferers may have unhelpful thinking patterns such as perfectionist standards. Nevertheless, you can learn to manage your anxiety more effectively.
Do I have an anxiety disorder?
Although it is normal to experience some degree of fear at times, it may be problematic if it occurs when no real threat is present or if the symptoms persists long after the danger has passed.
If your anxiety is severe and/or disabling you may need treatment. If you are distressed or negatively impaired in your ability to function at: home, work , school or university or in social settings you may need professional help.
What are anxiety symptoms?
Behavioural Anxiety Symptoms
- Pressured speech
- Fidgeting with ones hands
- Avoidance of feared situations or objects
Cognitive Anxiety Symptoms
- Inability to concentrate
- Mind going blank
- Recurrent thoughts
Physical Anxiety Symptoms
- Tachycardia, rapid heartbeat
- Muscle tension
- Numbness or tingling in arms, hands or legs
- Butterflies in the stomach
How should I cope with my anxiety symptoms?
Should I just avoid things and situations which trigger symptoms?
Some people cope with their anxiety symptoms by self medicating with alcohol and/or other drugs (e.g. marijuana) however this strategy can lead to people becoming alcohol or drug dependent and stops them from overcoming their anxiety disorder.
Many people cope with their symptoms by avoiding situations or objects which trigger their fear. However, avoidance is only a short term solution to your anxiety disorder and does not address the root of your problem. Until you address your psychological disorder, it may remain an issue for you and may spread/generalise to other situations. e.g. someone who experiences a panic attack in a supermarket may start off avoiding supermarkets, but then decide they should avoid any crowded building, e.g. shopping centres, stadiums, theatres to minimise the possibility of having a panic attack and therefore end up leading a very restricted life in terms of places they can go.
Avoidance may give you relief temporarily but the next time the situation you fear pops up, you are no better off.
Every time you avoid something, it is harder to do it the next time the situation happens. Most importantly, avoidance stops you from doing things you want to do and therefore prevents you from achieving desired goals and leading the life you want to lead.
What can I do to reduce my anxiety symptoms?
Anxiety is exacerbated by stress, so managing stress more effectively will help.
Symptoms can be exacerbated by stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine so you are advised to avoid those substances. You may be able to decrease your anxiety symptoms simply by reducing your intake of coffee, tea, cola drinks etc. Some recreational drugs and prescription medications may also exacerbate the problem so you are advised to check with your doctor as to their side effects. Many drugs can produce anxiety-like symptoms as side effects. e.g. some contraceptive pills, asthma medications, antidepressants etc.
Alcohol can exacerbate your anxiety symptoms so be mindful of your alcohol consumption.
Being tired exacerbates the problem so try to ensure that you get sufficient sleep. Getting enough sleep can be difficult for sufferers as often insomnia is one of their symptoms.
Sometimes anxiety may be a symptom of certain medical conditions, so it is advisable to consult your doctor for a checkup to ensure there is no underlying physical health problem that needs to be addressed. Cushings syndrome and mitral valve prolapsed are just two of the medical conditions that can produce anxiety.
Regular exercise can help to decrease symptoms so ideally one would aim to exercise most days of the week for approximately half an hour.
Although taking the above steps can help to alleviate the problem, many people who have anxiety disorders will need to seek help from a mental health professional, such as a clinical psychologist. Your psychologist will probably teach you relaxation techniques such as abdominal breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation etc., as part of your anxiety treatment.