Anxiety is experienced when we feel upset, uncomfortable and tense in response to a threat, danger or stress. Life experiences such as a relationship breakdown, job loss, death of someone close, serious illness or other traumatic event can trigger feelings of anxiety. Feeling anxious in these situations usually only lasts for a limited time, and although not regarded as clinical anxiety, these feelings may sometimes require a combination of medical management, education, counselling and lifestyle changes.

Anxiety disorders

develop when anxious feelings are ongoing, happen for no apparent reason, or continue long after a stressful event has passed. The level of anxiety and feelings of panic can be so extreme that it significantly interferes with a person’s normal activities in their daily life and relationships. Common anxiety disorders include: generalised anxiety disorder; social phobia; panic disorder; agoraphobia; obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Symptoms of Anxiety

  • Emotional symptoms include ongoing worry, apprehensiveness and a sense of powerlessness.
  • A sense of impending panic, danger or doom. In severe cases this may trigger a panic attack which is a sudden, intense episode of fear associated with physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness and a racing heart.
  • Physical symptoms can include breathlessness, dizziness, sweating, trembling, increased heart rate, dry mouth, choking, nausea, stomach upset, pins and needles in the hands, tightness of the chest, chills or hot flushes. Many of these symptoms are the body’s response to shallow, fast breathing (hyperventilating) and will often subside with slow, deep breathing.
  • Other symptoms include feeling tired or restless; difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly; difficulty sleeping; nightmares; muscle tension; headaches; loss of appetite and a loss of libido (sex drive).
If left untreated, severe anxiety may lead to depression and other long term physical, psychological and social problems.

Causes of Anxiety

  • Ongoing stressful situations such as problems at home or work; accommodation stress; relationship issues; interpersonal conflict and grief are examples of situations that may trigger anxiety. People who have experienced physical, sexual, or verbal abuse; life threatening events or pregnancy and childbirth may also be at risk.
  • Family history of mental health issues may sometimes be a contributing factor.
  • Physical issues can be the underlying cause of some anxiety conditions. Heart disease, hormonal problems, a thyroid condition, asthma and diabetes are examples of a range of physical conditions which may initially present with anxiety symptoms.
  • Substance abuse of drugs such as cannabis, amphetamines, alcohol, caffeine or sedatives can trigger anxiety symptoms.
  • Personality factors such as being controlling, perfectionist or having low self esteem can leave people more vulnerable to developing anxiety symptoms.
To make an appointment to discuss with a Positive Solutions counsellor phone 1800 064 039


Treatments for anxiety vary according to personality, severity and nature of the condition. For example, while symptoms of mild anxiety may be assisted with lifestyle changes, more severe cases may require medication to help control feelings of high anxiety. Counselling and education are also useful to help people understand their thoughts, emotions and behaviour so that they may develop new ways to deal with their anxiety. Lifestyle changes can include regular physical exercise; involvement in activities or pastimes previously enjoyed; practising regular relaxation techniques (e.g. meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing exercises etc.) and reducing caffeine intake.

Seek Support

Contact Positive Solutions:

162 Macquarie Street Hobart
1800 064 039

8 Hobart Road Kings Meadows
1800 064 039


For more information about anxiety visit:

Sane Australia
beyond blue ( )
headspace (
Lifeline (

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