Images of people suffering from Anxiety to form the word Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common of mental disorders experienced in the Australian population affecting 1 in seven. This causes one to feel distressed and very often interferes with life.

According to the DSM 5 symptoms of anxiety that can be experienced in any of the anxiety disorders are:

  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling of choking
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Fear of losing control or dying
  • Numbness/tingling
  • Chills or hot flushes
Symptoms of Anxiety
Common Symptoms of Anxiety

Classification within DSM 5

Anxiety disorders are classified by DSM 5 as below:

  • Intense fear or discomfort with palpitations, shortness of breath etc (panic attack)
  • Anxiety about being in places where escape might be difficult Agoraphobia)
  • Persistent, excessive or unrealistic worries (generalised anxiety disorder)
  • Compulsions and obsessions which they can’t control (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
  • Intense excessive worry about social situations (social anxiety disorder)
  • Intense, irrational fear of everyday objects and situations (phobia).
  • Intense fear, or distressing memories of a traumatic event (PTSD)
  • Anxiety due to separation from attachment figures not limited to children (separation anxiety disorder)
  • Inability to speak in certain situations especially social (selective mutism)
  • Anxiety or panic due to intoxication or drug withdrawal (substance/medication induced anxiety)
Classification of Anxiety Disorders according to DSM 5

Approved treatment for anxiety

A treatment plan for anxiety is determined by the assessment of the treating GP and psychologist. In some cases, medication might help to relieve symptoms. Evidence suggests that psychological interventions have proved to be very effective it the treatment of anxiety.

Evidence-based psychological interventions approved by the Australian Psychological Society are:

Duration and Intensity

Symptoms of anxiety can develop over time. These symptoms can last a few minutes to several hours depending on the severity and intensity of the attack. For example some people with anxiety might experience a panic attack which is short in duration while others it might be longer. The idea is not to wait till anxiety becomes unbearable.

It is always advisable to seek help by visiting your GP and seeing a psychologist so you can learn what is causing your anxiety and how to manage it effectively.

Comorbidity of Anxiety

Usually anxiety is not only associated with depression but with other psychiatric and nonpsychiatric conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, maternal and reproductive related syndromes and psychosomatic illnesses.

Anxiety is also experienced along with PTSD. PTSD occurs about a month from a traumatic incident to yourself or an incident you may have witnessed like sexual assault, domestic violence or child abuse. This can happen to doctors, police officers and emergency workers who are exposed to traumatic events in their job and known as Vicarious Trauma.

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