Anxiety can be a debilitating condition that significantly and negatively impacts a sufferer’s quality of life.
It may strike suddenly or take them by stealth.
Its triggers may be obvious or remain totally undetected by the sufferer.
Worryingly, a National Prescribing Service (NPS) survey in Australia in 2008 indicated that the average time from onset of first symptom to seeking help for anxiety is 8.2 years.
It also reported that anxiety disorders affect around 14% of people aged 16-85 – that’s around one in seven.
Almost all of us are likely to experience short-term anxiety in some form during our lives.
But long-term sufferers need not accept their condition.
Identifying the problem is just the first step.
Symptoms of anxiety
Anxiety often presents itself in the form of fear or loathing to be with someone or somewhere.
It may be accompanied by an increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, palpations and even chest pain.
Sufferers may also experience headaches or pain in the neck, shoulders or back.
They may feel sweatiness or dizziness, shaking or a sickly feeling in the stomach.
And they may be regularly fatigued or feel drained.
Anxiety will likely be accompanied by a range of negative thoughts which may include:
- always worrying or fearing worst-case scenarios
- having difficulties concentrating
- being unable to relax
- wanting to avoid group gatherings
- withdrawing from friends and family
- regular feelings of being annoyed or restless
- having trouble sleeping, including regularly waking at night
Impacts of anxiety
Anxiety has the capacity to completely shut down a person’s ability from functioning in day to day life.
This may lead them to being viewed negatively by others who don’t understand their condition.
If left untreated, it may also begin to do long-term damage to a person’s physical health in the following areas:
Heart – many of anxiety’s symptoms mimic a heart attack. Without medical intervention, regular cardiac stress including high blood pressure may trigger a range of serious heart problems.
Nervous system – the release of stress hormones can do long term damage to your health including weight gain.
Stomach and bowels – your stomach is the barometer of your health. Stress attacks healthy bacteria in your gut and may cause you to over or under eat. It may also trigger chronic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome which may cause diarrhoea, constipation or vomiting.
Immune system – chronic stress saturates the body with hormones that weaken the immune system making you more vulnerable to viral infections and a raft of other illnesses.
Lungs – short, sharp breaths can aggravate symptoms for asthmatics and can also put you at an increased risk of hospitalisation if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Brain – anxiety can be a slippery slope and one that can lead to more serious depression.
Taking positive action
There are many different types of anxiety disorders including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic attacks and phobias.
If you have any of these feelings or suspect you may have any other type of anxiety, it is important to seek help as soon as possible to avoid long-term physical ailments that may manifest as a result.
You may visit a doctor face-to-face or if you prefer, engage in an online program, which has also proven to be very effective and often comes without cost.
Antidepressant drugs may be offered to treat serious anxiety while other psychological approaches may also be considered such as mindfulness, acceptance and commitment therapy.
Book an appointment
By its very nature, most people suffer anxiety in silence.
But it is important to break those shackles, identify the possibility that you have the condition and seek help.
Anxiety and depression are among the most common illnesses in Australia.
Your doctor will talk to you about how you are feeling, as well as undertake a physical exam and potentially run a couple of basic tests.
Sometimes your problems can be eased or solved by talking about them with a professional.
On other occasions, a positive outcome can be achieved by a change to your diet or checking and changing how some of the drugs you are taking are interacting.
Book an appointment here today or call us at the Seaford Road Day and Night Clinic on 8327 2022 or the Seaford Meadows Day and Night Clinic on 8327 2033.