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Anxiety & Anxiety Disorders

What is Anxiety ?

Anxiety is normal to feel – in the right amounts. Anxiety in small amounts can be a motivating and an adaptive emotional state that occurs in response to a ‘perceived threat or danger’. It can include short-term manageable states such as alertness, motivation, drive, and can lead to problem-solving and preventative and effective actions to protect one’s self or others so as to ensure a desired outcome. Normal anxiety is ‘Adaptive anxiety’: Anxiety that is temporary, manageable, and potentially helpful.

On the other hand, anxiety can become a problem when it is persistent (does not go away) and controls what you feel you can or cannot do. Anxiety that leads to excessive amounts of fear and worry (rumination), can trigger a cascade of physical and emotional responses (such as a panic attack) that may overwhelm you, make you feel trapped, or may prevent you from being able to function at all.

Quite often people cope with excessive anxiety by doing things to avoid the thing that is triggering their anxiety.  This is understandable – because anxious feelings and thoughts can seem so overwhelming – However, avoidance is only a short-term fix. Avoidance does not get rid of the anxiety, avoidance is not always possible, and avoiding things that trigger your anxiety can become something that gets in the way of you living your life (relationships, ability to enjoy things, or cope with the demands of life). This kind of problematic anxiety is referred to as an Anxiety Disorder.

Anxiety vs Worry

‘Adaptive anxiety’ is temporary, manageable, and potentially helpful. Eg, Feeling anxious a week before an exam might lead you to sit down and plan to study regularly and to test yourself daily so that you are well-prepared and can achieve your desired outcome.

Excessive Anxiety & Worry is overwhelming, unmanageable, and often leads to you avoid what’s truly important. Eg, Feeling so anxious about an upcoming exam that you feel tense, your mind may flood you with images of failure, you may feel sick in your stomach – you may even work yourself into a state where you feel you cannot even sit at your desk to study. You may find it difficult to sleep leading up to the exam. As the exam date rolls closer, you may become preoccupied with ways to get out of having to sit the exam.

Types of Anxiety

An ‘Anxiety Disorder’ refers to any anxiety that is persistently and significantly interfering with your well-being and your ability to live and do things freely. Although the term ‘disorder’ often seems to carry with it connotations of being ‘broken’ or ‘defective’, it simply means you are not functioning as highly as you could.

It is important to understand that a diagnosis does not have to be permanent. It is simply a temporary label, like the labels ‘cold’ or ‘flu’ or ‘headache’ that serves as an abbreviation to communicate to others. Once you have gotten on top of managing your anxiety, you will no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders differ from one another in the types of objects or situations that trigger the excessive fears, anxieties, or avoidance behaviors and the content of the associated thoughts or beliefs. But the one feature that anxiety disorders all share are that: People with Anxiety Disorders are often stuck in patterns of trying to avoid things that are causing them the anxiety (which is understandable), but this inadvertently maintains the anxiety through a series of complex psychological and behavioural processes.

The Anxiety Disorders 

Anxiety disorders are differentiated by the focus of the anxiety. These are summarized below:

Further Resources:

I can help you with all Anxiety Disorders and can help you get your life back on track. If you would like to contact me, I would love to hear from you. I am a PhD Clinical Psychologist with over 10 year’s experience trained in Mindfulness & Compassion Focused Therapies.

To book in a session with me:

CONTACT ME

I will typically respond to you within 12-24 hrs.

I can help you with all Anxiety Disorders and can help you get your life back on track. If you would like to contact me, I would love to hear from you. I am a PhD Clinical Psychologist with over 10 year’s experience trained in Mindfulness & Compassion Focused Therapies.

To book in a session with me:

CONTACT ME

I will typically respond to you within 12-24 hrs.

Let’s Talk.

    Mindfulness & 

    Clinical Psychology Solutions

     

    admin@mi-psych.com.au
    Po Box 1028, Newtown NSW 2042