Everything you need to know about anxiety and what you can do about it

Do I  have anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal human emotion. Everyone experiences anxiety at one time or another.

While a little bit of anxiety is normal and even helpful in some situations, too much anxiety can be overwhelming and debilitating.

Is anxiety a psychological condition?

Yes, and as a matter of fact, anxiety is one of the most commonly diagnosed psychological conditions worldwide.

Anxiety is characterised by three common features:

  • Excessive worry and anxious thoughts such as catastrophising
  • Avoidance behaviours or a strong urge to avoid aspects of life
  • Uncomfortable physical sensations such as increased heart rate, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, sweating, shaking or trembling, upset stomach

Many different things can cause anxiety, including your genetics, brain chemistry, your family upbringing, or stressful life events.

In some, perfectionism is often an underlying trigger of anxiety as well.

Anxiety is a response to perceived danger

Anxiety and fear are often used interchangeably, but they are actually two very different emotions.

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry, or nervousness, about future events or unknown situations. It is often accompanied by physical symptoms like a racing heart, shortness of breath, sweating and trembling.

Dr. Tarmala Caple

Psychologist Perth

Fear is a response to a specific stimulus that poses a threat, such as an object, person, or situation that is known to be dangerous. It is the body’s natural way of preparing to fight or flight.

In other words,

  • Anxiety is a response to perceived danger such as a future event or worry about something that may happen. It’s often an anticipation of a vague, unspecified threat.
  • Fear is a response to a present event or something that is happening right now that is a threat to one’s safety. Fear is a natural, survival-based emotion that helps us avoid danger by triggering the fight or flight response.

While anxiety can be debilitating, it is not the same as fear. Anxiety is like having a faulty smoke alarm in your brain.

When should I seek help?

When you feel that your anxiety is overwhelming, we encourage you to seek help. Even though many Perth psychology practices may have long waiting lists, at The Wellbeing Psychologist, we strive to get you in as soon as possible.

Please call our practice to book an appointment  if:

  • Your anxiety is interfering with your daily life,
  • Anxiety is causing you a lot of distress,
  • You can’t stop worrying,
  • You constantly feel on edge and can’t relax,
  • You can’t get to sleep or stay asleep,
  • You can’t concentrate or remember things,
  • Anxiety is causing you intense physical symptoms or discomfort,
  • You avoid activities, people or places,
  • You feel you can’t control your anxiety,
  • You’ve tried to manage your anxiety yourself and it’s not working,
  • Your anxiety is impacting your relationships,
  • Your work or school performance is negatively impacted,
  • You are using drugs or alcohol to cope.

What are the most common types?

There are several types of anxiety disorders and they come with different symptoms. Generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias are the most common types. Let’s go over them one by one

GENERALISED ANXIETY DISORDER

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterised by persistent and excessive worry about a number of things. People with GAD may worry about their health, safety, work, finances, or family. This worry can be difficult to control and can interfere with daily activities. Symptoms of GAD include:

    feeling restless or on edge,

    being easily fatigued,

    difficulty concentrating,

    having muscle tension,

    Indecisiveness and fear of making decisions,

    difficulty sleeping.

    PANIC DISORDER

    Panic disorder is characterised by recurrent, unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is a period of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and four or more of the below symptoms are present

      palpitations,

      sweating,

      trembling,

      shortness of breath,

      sensations of choking or smothering,

      chest pain,

      nausea,

      dizziness,

      and fear of losing control or “going crazy.”

      SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER

      Social anxiety disorder is characterised by an intense fear of social or performance situations. People with social anxiety worry about being embarrassed or humiliated in front of others. They often worry about being judged by others or about being rejected. Common symptoms can include:

        blushing,

        sweating,

        loss of concentration,

        forgetting things, and

        replaying social situations in your mind

        SPECIFIC PHOBIAS

        Specific phobias are characterised by an intense fear of specific objects or situations. People with a specific phobia often go to great lengths to avoid the things they are afraid of, and the fear can have a major impact on their quality of life. There are many different types of specific phobias, including fear of animals (such as snakes, dogs, or rodents), fear of natural disasters (such as hurricanes or earthquakes), fear of blood or needles, and fear of flying. Specific phobias can be very debilitating, and people who suffer from them often feel like they are powerless to control their fear. While not all phobias need treatment, if your fear is limiting your life or causing significant distress then treatment is available.   

          How is anxiety treated?

          The psychologists at The Wellbeing Psychologist are familiar with a range of anxiety presentations.

           

          Clients tell us they feel understood when they talk to us. That makes sense as one of our main values is to validate how people feel. Quite often people tell us they don’t know why they are experiencing what they experience and it’s our job to provide them with evidence-based treatments so they can make a real change in their lives.

          Dr. Tarmala Caple

          Psychologist Perth

          Psychological therapy is the primary form of treatment for all types of anxiety disorders. But the specific treatment approach depends on your type of anxiety disorder and its severity. While there is no one-size-fits-all anxiety treatment, there are a number of effective approaches that can help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.

          First of all, it’s important to understand that psychotherapy helps by teaching you new ways of thinking and behaving, and changing how you react to situations that trigger anxiety.

          Dr. Tarmala Caple

          Psychologist Perth

          Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely used psychological therapies for treating anxiety disorders. CBT teaches a person to recognise and change thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to anxiety. A particular type of behaviour therapy known as exposure therapy helps people confront their fears in a safe and controlled way. Mindfulness and relaxation-based therapies also form part of many anxiety-based treatments in combination with CBT as reducing the overwhelming physical sensations that accompany is essential to effective anxiety relief.

          Will therapy help?

          The outlook for people with anxiety disorders is positive. Most people with anxiety disorders improve with treatment, although some people require follow-up treatment on an as-needs basis to help them manage their symptoms or triggers over the long term.

          Many people with anxiety never seek out professional help. They believe that their symptoms are not severe enough, or that they can simply avoid what makes them anxious. If you’re reading this and you recognise yourself, a psychologist can help you understand your anxiety and develop a treatment plan to help you manage it.

          Dr. Tarmala Caple

          Psychologist Perth

          Although avoidance makes sense, it only serves to maintain anxiety because the brain never learns that the feared outcome doesn’t eventuate or that it’s not as severe as the brain is telling you.

           

          How often will I need to see a psychologist?

          The length of treatment depends on a number of factors:

          • How long you’ve experienced anxiety
          • The type of anxiety
          • The severity of your symptoms
          • The frequency of your treatment sessions

          This will become clear after one of our Perth psychologists has talked with you during a first consultation session. Please contact our experts at The Wellbeing Psychologist to book an appointment. We have short waiting lists for new appointments and we pride ourselves in giving the best service possible.

          Dr Tarmala Caple, The Wellbeing Psychologist

          I’ve spent over 20 years helping people live life to their full potential and have extensive experience in supporting individuals’ manage general psychological issues, overcome challenges and setbacks, and improve their life.

          We’re committed to building a friendly and collaborative relationship with people so they feel understood and supported. We use an individualised approach to suit your preferences, personality, and lifestyle.

          Our motto is “working together to find what works for you”.

          Dr Tarmala Caple

          Not sure which session to book? Send us an enquiry and we’ll be in touch!