Waitematā DHB Isa Lei - Pacific Island Community Mental Health Services
Public Service, Mental Health
We all feel some anxiety at some time or other. Anxiety may serve as an alerting signal, warning us of external /internal threats and consequently acting as a prompt to take appropriate action.
When anxiety is very severe and present even when there is no threat of any kind, then it interferes with our functioning and can become an illness. In this circumstance, anxiety becomes a disorder characterised by an unpleasant emotion with feelings of fear, threat and impending danger and can be associated with numerous bodily symptoms like breathlessness, trembling, tightness in throat, dry mouth, racing heart and nausea/vomiting.
There are varieties of anxiety disorders like:
- panic attacks (sudden and severe urge of fear in response to something (a trigger) that affects you)
- phobias (unhealthy fear of something)
- agoraphobia (fear of open spaces)
- social anxiety
- post-traumatic disorder
- obsessive compulsive disorder
Anxiety can often be associated with a depressive episode.
Signs to look for (symptoms)
- expect the worst
- worry excessively about money, health, family or work, when there are no signs of trouble
- be unable to relax, enjoy quiet time, or be by themselves
- avoid situations that make them anxious
- be irritable
- have constant worries running through their head
- have difficulty concentrating or focusing on things
- feel edgy, restless or jumpy
- suffer from stomach problems, nausea, diarrhoea
- suffer from poor sleep
- need to know what’s going to happen in the future
Anxiety disorders are very common and if unrecognised and untreated, can cause severe disability.
- Self help: learning techniques like relaxation, distraction and education.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
- Physical exercise.