What is anxiety?​

Anxiety is a mental and physical reaction to real or perceived threats. In small doses, anxiety is useful. It protects us from danger and focuses our attention on problems. But when anxiety is too severe or occurs too frequently, it can become mentally and physically exhausting.​

Signs include:

An anxiety-producing situation leads to uncomfortable symptoms such as

  • A racing heart

  • Sweating

  • Rapid breathing

  • A feeling of being overwhelmed​

  • Racing thoughts

  • Muscle tension

  • Butterflies in the stomach

  • Shaking

  • Dizziness 

  • Change in appetite

  • restlessness

If a person suffers from anxiety over a long period of time;

  • Sleeping issues

  • Heart disease

  • High blood pressure

  • Diabetes

  • May develop depression

  • Panic disorders

What can you do?

Psychoeducation is an important early step in the treatment of anxiety disorders. The understanding and normalisation of anxiety will allow your clients to better recognise their own symptoms, and understand the rationale behind common treatments.


Uncomfortable symptoms are controlled by avoiding the anxiety-producing situation. Examples of avoidance include: • Skipping class to avoid giving a presentation • Using drugs or alcohol to numb feelings • Procrastinating on challenging tasks


Short-Term Relief from Anxiety Avoidance of the anxiety-producing situation gives an immediate sense of relief. The symptoms of anxiety lessen, but only temporarily

Long-Term Anxiety Growth The fear that initially led to avoidance worsens, and the brain learns that when the anxiety-producing situation is avoided, the symptoms go away. As a result, the symptoms of anxiety will be worse the next time, and avoidance is more likely.














Types of Anxiety

Generalized Anxiety: An excessive amount of anxiety or worry in several areas of life, such as job responsibilities, health, finances, or minor concerns (e.g. completing housework).


Phobias: A very intense fear of a specific situation or object, which is out of proportion to its actual threat. For example, a fear of giving speeches, or of spiders, could be considered a phobia.



Panic: An extreme anxious response where a person experiences a panic attack. During a panic attack, the individual experiences numerous physical symptoms, and is overwhelmed by a feeling of dread.

For solutions check out "The Challenge Zone" under resources

Source: Therapist Aid (2020)

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