What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried. While stress and anxious feelings are a common response to a situation where a person feels under pressure, it usually passes once the stressful situation has passed, or 'stressor' is removed.
Anxiety is when these anxious feelings don't subside. Anxiety is when they are ongoing and exist without any particular reason or cause. It's a serious condition that makes it hard for a person to cope with daily life. We all feel anxious from time to time, but for a person experiencing anxiety, these feelings cannot be easily controlled.
Signs and symptoms
The symptoms of anxiety can often develop gradually over time. Given that we all experience some anxiety, it can be hard to know how much is too much. In order to be diagnosed with anxiety, the condition must have a disabling impact on the person's life. There are many types of anxiety, and there are a range of symptoms for each.
The symptoms of anxiety are sometimes not all that obvious as they often develop gradually and, given that we all experience some anxiety at some points in time, it can be hard to know how much is too much.
Some common symptoms include:
- hot and cold flushes
- racing heart
- tightening of the chest
- snowballing worries
- obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviour
These are just some of a number of symptoms that may be experienced. If you are familiar with any of these symptoms, please consult a doctor. These symptoms are not designed to provide a diagnosis – for that you need to see a doctor – however they can be used as a guide.
What is Depression?
While we all feel sad, moody or low from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time (weeks, months or even years) and sometimes without any apparent reason. Depression is more than just a low mood – it's a serious illness that has an impact on both physical and mental health.
Signs and symptoms
Depression affects how people feel about themselves. They may lose interest in work, hobbies and doing things they normally enjoy. They may lack energy, have difficulty sleeping or sleep more than usual. Some people feel irritable and some find it hard to concentrate. Depression makes life more difficult to manage from day to day.
A person may be depressed if, for more than two weeks, he or she has felt sad, down or miserable most of the time or has lost interest or pleasure in usual activities, and has also experienced several of the signs and symptoms across at least three of the categories below.
It's important to note that everyone experiences some of these symptoms from time to time and it may not necessarily mean a person is depressed. Equally, not every person who is experiencing depression will have all of these symptoms.
- not going out anymore
- not getting things done at work/school
- withdrawing from close family and friends
- relying on alcohol and sedatives
- not doing usual enjoyable activities
- unable to concentrate
- lacking in confidence
- 'I'm a failure.'
- 'It's my fault.'
- 'Nothing good ever happens to me.'
- 'I'm worthless.'
- 'Life's not worth living.'
- 'People would be better off without me.'
- tired all the time
- sick and run down
- headaches and muscle pains
- sleep problems
- loss or change of appetite
- significant weight loss or gain
Have you felt very nervous when faced with a specific object or situation? For example:
- flying on an aeroplane
- going near an animal
- receiving an injection
- going to a social event
Have you avoided a situation because of your phobia? For example, have you:
- changed work patterns
- not attended social events
- avoided health check-ups
- found it hard to go about your daily life (e.g. working, studying or seeing friends and family) because you are trying to avoid such situations?
Within a 10 minute period have you felt 4 or more of the following:
- increased heart rate
- short of breath
- nauseous or pain in the stomach
- dizzy, lightheaded or faint
- numb or tingly
- derealisation (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (feeling detached from yourself or your surroundings)
- hot or cold flushes
- scared of going crazy
- scared of dying?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, have you also: felt scared, for 1 month or more, of experiencing these feelings again?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- experienced or seen something that involved death, injury, torture or abuse and felt very scared or helpless?
- had upsetting memories or dreams of the event for at least 1 month?
- found it hard to go about your daily life (e.g. work, study, getting along with family and friends)?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, have you also experienced at least 3 of the following:
- avoided activities that remind you of the traumatic event
- had trouble remembering parts of the event
- felt less interested in doing things you used to enjoy
- had trouble feeling intensely positive emotions (e.g. love or excitement)
- thought less about the future (e.g. about career or family goals)?
and have you experienced at least 2 of the following:
- had difficulties sleeping (e.g. had bad dreams, or found it hard to fall or stay asleep)
- felt easily angered or irritated
- had trouble concentrating
- felt on guard
- been easily startled?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- had repetitive thoughts or concerns that are not simply about real life problems (e.g. thoughts that you or people close to you will be harmed)
- done the same activity repeatedly and in a very ordered, precise and similar way each time e.g.:
- constantly washing your hands or clothes, showering or brushing your teeth
- constantly cleaning, tidying or rearranging things at home, at work or in the car in a very particular way
- constantly checking that doors and windows are locked and/or appliances are turned off
- felt relieved in the short term by doing these things, but soon felt the need to repeat them
- recognised that these feelings, thoughts and behaviours were unreasonable
- found that these thoughts or behaviours take up more than 1 hour a day and/or interfered with your normal routine (e.g. working, studying or seeing friends and family)?
Pain is a very common condition. Around one third of Australians are in pain, with one in five reporting that their pain is constant. The occurrence of pain rises as people get older, and women are more likely to be in pain than men. Pain management strategies include pain-relieving medications, physical or occupational therapy, and complementary therapies (such as acupuncture and massage).
Studies suggest that a person's outlook and the way they cope emotionally with long-term (chronic) pain can influence their quality of life. Counselling can help support you to manage the emotional and psychological effects of chronic pain. Understanding the causes of your pain can help reduce your fear and anxiety.
Causes of pain
Pain may be anything from a dull ache to a sharp stab, and can range from mild to extreme. Pain may be located in one part of the body or it may be widespread.
Causes of pain in adults include medical conditions (such as cancer, arthritis and back problems), injuries and surgery. The most commonly reported pain is back pain. Pain involving the limbs, shoulder, neck and head is also common.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – this form of therapy can help you learn to change how you think and, in turn, how you feel and behave about pain. This is a valuable strategy for learning to self-manage chronic pain
It may seem that there's nothing you can do about stress. The bills won't stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day, and your career and family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have more control than you might think. In fact, the simple realization that you're in control of your life is the foundation of stress management. Managing stress is all about taking charge: of your thoughts, emotions, schedule, and the way you deal with problems
Grief and Loss
You may associate grief with the death of a loved one, but any loss can cause grief, including the loss of a relationship, your health, your job, or a cherished dream. After a significant loss, you may experience all kinds of difficult and surprising emotions, such as shock, anger, and guilt. Sometimes it may feel like the sadness will never let up.
While these emotions can feel very painful, accepting them as part of the grieving process and allowing yourself to feel what you feel is necessary for healing. As you deal with your loss, remember that there is no order or timetable for grief. Everyone grieves differently, but there are healthy ways to cope and heal from the pain.
A relationship is an investment that will build as you continue to devote your time and effort. The more you put in, the more you'll get back.
As well as commitment and a willingness to adapt and change throughout life, healthy relationships require skills in communication and emotional awareness. Thankfully, these skills can be easily learned. They can even help to repair many relationships.
If your romantic relationship is less than you need or want, or even if it's on the rocks, there are steps you can take to repair trust and rebuild a satisfying and meaningful connection.
Do you have a short fuse or find yourself getting into frequent arguments and fights? Anger is a normal, healthy emotion, but when chronic, explosive anger spirals out of control, it can have serious consequences for your relationships, your health, and your state of mind. With insight about the real reasons for your anger and these anger management tools, you can learn to keep your temper from hijacking your life.