What is it?

Anxiety is a little like “worry”. Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their lives.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Some of the common symptoms of anxiety are:

  • Worrying thoughts
  • Feeling upset for no particular reason
  • Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing
  • Pounding heart
  • Feeling faint
  • Sweaty palms
  • Upset stomach
  • Tense muscles

Anxiety vs Anxiety Disorders

So what is the difference between normal anxiety and an anxiety disorder? Generally speaking, for an anxiety to be labeled as a disorder the symptoms must be excessive and unreasonable, and interfere significantly with normal routine, occupational or education functioning, or social activities or relationships. Anxiety disorders affect around 14% of Australians and women are more commonly affected than men. There are various types of anxiety disorders and each is characterised by different symptoms.

So what kinds are there?

  • Agoraphobia: anxiety about, or avoidance of places or situations from which escape might be difficult or embarrassing.
  • Panic disorder: recurrent, unexpected panic attacks (a period of sudden, intense apprehension of fear, and a feeling of losing control or dying).
  • Phobia: anxiety related to exposure to a feared object or situation (e.g dogs, spiders, social situations)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: obsessive thoughts causing anxiety, followed by compulsive behaviours intended to reduce the anxiety
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder: re-experiencing of an extremely traumatic event accompanied by increased arousal and avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma
  • Generalised anxiety disorder: at least 6 months of persistent and excessive anxiety
  • Substance induced anxiety disorder: anxiety as a direct physiological consequence of a drug or toxin.

What help is available?

The good news is there are very effective strategies to help someone cope with anxiety, and treatments for anxiety disorders. To learn more, the following options are available:

  • Talk to one of the Counsellors at school. Anxiety is one of the most common reasons people talk to a counsellor and there are quick and effective ways they can show you to help you feel better.
  • Talk to a teacher you trust. They will be able give you some ideas on ways to relax, or if your anxiety is more severe they can help you make an appointment with one of the Counsellors.
  • Talk to your Doctor. A Doctor can give you a referral to see a Psychologist outside of school.
  • Find out more about anxiety on one of the following websites: