Anxiety is a normal part of life. It helps us avoid potentially threatening or dangerous situations. Anxiety is a term that describes the experiences of worry, apprehension and the physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, churning stomach, feeling faint and shaky etc.
However, for some people anxiety stops being the everyday type of worry to an uncertain situation. It becomes severe and upsetting, returns repeatedly, continues over a long period of time, occurs in the absence of an anxiety provoking situation, and can impair their daily functioning, such as avoiding social situations, frequently unable to work, impair normal sleep patterns and impair relationships. When this occurs, it is typically described as an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorder in Australia.
Psychologists can help people with anxiety disorders by using an intervention called cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), which has been found to be the most effective treatment for anxiety disorders. CBT is a type of therapy that helps a person to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours which can contribute to anxiety, and build skills to manage it.
It is suggested that unhelpful thinking styles, such as anticipating the worst case scenario, persistent negative self-talk, difficulty accepting uncertainty and low self-esteem, all contribute to anxiety disorders. Using CBT, the client and their psychologist can identify and modify their thought patterns to reduce the experience of anxiety. Other techniques used in CBT for anxiety include relaxation training, behavioural strategies such as gradually facing feared situations and enhancing problem solving skills.
If you or someone you know experiences anxiety, it is best to consult with your GP in order to get a referral to a psychologist.