Navigating the Waves: Understanding and Overcoming Anxiety

Navigating the Waves: Understanding and Overcoming Anxiety

Featured Painting Title: Anxiety & Panic Attacks
By Alexis Apfelbaum

"The picture takes on a comical look at the state of anxiety and panic attacks and draws on the wide-eyed theatrics of silent film to do so. The sea in the picture threatens to swallow up the characters while sea monsters are also a projection of the fear that threatens to overtake the personality during the panic attack. Humour has been one of best tools I have found against the fear that takes place in anxiety - against the inability to make decisions, connect with others and feel safe."



What is anxiety?

Everyone experiences anxiety at some time. When people describe their anxiety, they may use terms such as: anxious, stressed, uptight, nervous, frazzled, worried, tense or hassled.
An anxiety disorder differs from normal anxiety in the following ways:
• It is more severe
• It is long lasting
• It interferes with the person's work, other activities or relationships.
Anxiety disorders affect 14.4% of Australians aged 16-85 years in a given year, 17.9% of females and 10.8% of males. Anxiety disorders are more common in females than males. The median age of onset is 15 years, which means that half the people who will ever have an anxiety disorder will have onset by this age. Anxiety disorders often co-occur with depression and substance use disorder.
Although anxiety is an unpleasant state, it can be quite useful in helping a person to avoid dangerous situations and motivate the solving of everyday problems. Anxiety can vary in severity from mild uneasiness through to a terrifying panic attack. Anxiety can also vary in how long it lasts, from a few minutes to many years.
Anxiety can show in a variety of ways: physical, psychological and behavioural, as shown in the box below.

Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety

Unrealistic or excessive fear, irritability, impatience, anger, confusion, feeling on edge, nervousness.
Lots of worry about past or future events, mind racing or going blank, poorer concentration and memory, trouble making decisions, vivid dreams.
Avoiding situations or people, obsessive or compulsive behaviour, distress in social situations, increased use of alcohol or other drugs.
Pounding heart, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, blushing, rapid shortness of breath, dizziness, headache, sweating, tingling and numbness, choking, dry mouth, stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle aches and pains (especially neck, shoulders and back), restlessness, tremors and shaking, difficulty sleeping.
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