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Mudgee Psychology
Tip Sheet
Do I have an anxiety disorder?
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental
disorders in Australia. One in four people will
experience an anxiety disorder at some stage of
their lives. It is also the most common mental
health issue in children and the earlier treatment
is sought the better.
There are many different types of anxiety
disorders, and often people will experience
symptoms of more than one type.
The symptoms of anxiety can be confused with, or
part of, many medical conditions (such as thyroid problems) and it is important to seek medical review as
well as consulting with a psychologist for treatment.
Psychological treatments are considered the most effective in treating anxiety disorders and help a person
to recover, as well as prevent a recurrence of anxiety. Psychological treatments assist a person to change
their thought patterns and the way they react to certain situations.
There are different types of therapy that can help people manage anxiety disorder include Cognitive
Behavioural Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy and Mindfulness based Cognitive Therapy.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
People who have GAD have felt anxious on most days for at least six months. Worry can be on topics such
as finances, illness or family problems - to the point where it can affect their everyday lives. At times their
worry is so great they:
feel edgy/restless
feel tired
have difficulty concentrating
develop muscle tension (sore back, neck or jaw, headache)
find it hard to fall/stay asleep.
Mudgee Psychology
Ph 6372 6923
Mudgee Psychology
Tip Sheet
When a person has a phobia, they feel very fearful about particular objects or situations. Common phobias
 social phobia - fear of social situations such as parties and meetings
 agoraphobia - fear of open spaces such as parks and big shopping centres
 claustrophobia - fear of small spaces such as lifts, aeroplanes and crowded rooms
 zoophobia - fear of animals
 acrophobia - fear of heights
 mysophobia - fear of dirt and germs in places such as toilets and kitchens.
People often have more than one phobia
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive compulsive disorder gets its name because people who experience it have ongoing
unwanted/intrusive thoughts and fears that cause anxiety - often called obsessions. These obsessions
make people feel they need to carry out certain rituals in order to feel less anxious and these are known as
Common obsessions are:
 fear of forgetting to do things e.g. turning off appliances or locking doors
 fear of being contaminated by things that are unclean e.g. dirty cutlery, crockery, food, keys, door
handles and toilets
 fear of not being able to do things in an exact or orderly way
 fear of becoming sick, having an accident or dying
 intrusive thoughts about violence, accidents, sex or other inappropriate or unwanted thoughts
Common compulsions may include:
 concerns about personal hygiene, resulting in constant washing of hands or clothes, showering or
brushing of teeth
 constantly cleaning, tidying or rearranging in a particular way things at home, at work or in the car
 constantly checking that doors and windows are locked and appliances are turned off
 continually seeking reassurance by repeatedly asking questions of family and friends
 hoarding items such as newspapers, books, food or clothes.
In the short term, giving in to these compulsions can make people with OCD feel less anxious. However,
the anxiety returns and with it comes the need to carry out the ritual again... and this cycle continues.
Mudgee Psychology
Ph 6372 6923
Mudgee Psychology
Tip Sheet
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD involves bursts of anxiety that happen after a person experiences a major emotional shock following
a stressful event i.e. a trauma. PTSD can be brought on by being involved in or witnessing distressing
situations such as:
 war
 a major accident
 a natural disaster (bush fire, hurricane or cyclone)
 violence and sexual, physical, emotional or verbal abuse
 being neglected - not being nurtured enough or being abandoned
 trauma associated with having a chronic illness (e.g. being isolated in hospital for long periods,
experiencing unpleasant medical procedures).
The symptoms of PTSD include:
 flashbacks e.g. upsetting intrusive thoughts about a distressing event
 nightmares
 difficulty sleeping
 loss of interest in activities the person used to find enjoyable
 feeling on edge/irritable
 being very alert and easily startled
 difficulty concentrating
 finding it hard to remember parts of the traumatic event.
Panic Disorder
A panic attack is an intense feeling of anxiety that seems like it cannot be bought under control. Panic
attacks can include short bursts of:
 feeling anxious
 feelings of dread e.g. that something bad is going to happen
 breathing difficulties e.g. shortness of breath
 feeling lightheaded and/or nauseous
 having tingles or chills
 trembling or shaking
 having chest pains or a tight feeling in the chest.
For many people, panic attacks happen only occasionally when they are stressed. For others however, an
initial attack can lead to fears of another attack at a later stage. This can result in a vicious cycle where the
person is constantly worried about the next attack. These reactions can lead to people having thoughts
such as: "I must be going crazy." or "Something bad is going to happen.". Focusing on these thoughts and
the cycle of fear and worry can make a panic attack more likely.
If you think you or a close friend or family member has an anxiety disorder consult with your GP or
Mudgee Psychology on 6372 6923.
Mudgee Psychology
Ph 6372 6923