Anxiety refers to feelings of worry, nervousness or a sense of apprehension. Feeling anxious is a natural and short-lived reaction to stress. It is often linked to situations that are uncertain or if you don't think you will be up to the task. However, sometimes these anxious thoughts, feelings or physical symptoms can become more intense and last long after the situation has passed.

If anxiety impairs your daily life, it can be considered an anxiety disorder. In Australia, anxiety is the most common type of mental disorder diagnosed. These are some of the most common types:

  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Social Phobia
  • Agoraphobia (fear of public places)
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Specific Phobias


Anxiety is a serious condition, characterised by persistent excessive worry. If you suffer from anxiety, it's difficult to enjoy daily life and cope with, even small, challenges. Symptoms often experienced include the following:

  • Racing heart rate
  • Dizziness or nausea
  • Tense and aching muscles
  • Shortness of breath or a choking feeling
  • Chest pain
  • Insomnia and fatigue
  • Trembling/shaking
  • Tunnel vision
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Restlessness/inability to relax
  • Dry mouth

Anxiety often has many causes or contributing factors. Some people are genetically predisposed and personality traits, ongoing stress, physical health problems and substance use can also contribute.

Even if you cannot identify the causes of anxiety or change difficult circumstances, the most important thing is to recognise the symptoms so you can seek advice and support.


It's important to know that anxiety is treatable. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) has been found to be the most effective treatment for anxiety disorders. CBT helps to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours and build skills to manage anxiety. CBT combines some of the following strategies:

  • Cognitive restructuring
  • Problem-solving
  • Exposure therapy

You can read more details about these on the Therapy page