Almost one in five Australian women have an anxiety disorder. Photo: Gary MedlicottEveryone feels worried or anxious sometimes, but if you often have uncontrollable worries about many different issues, you could have an anxiety disorder.Anxiety disorders are  the most common mental health problem in Australia, affecting 14 per cent of people.

SymptomsSymptoms of anxiety disorder include feeling on edge, getting tired easily, feeling irritable, having tense muscles, and difficulty concentrating or sleeping.Anxiety  can  be associated with illnesses (for example, hyperthyroidism). In that case, you need to treat the underlying problem.

Anxiety is more common in …Women. Although anyone can develop an anxiety disorder, women are more at risk. In Australia, almost one in five women have an anxiety disorder, and about one in 10 men.The most common types  are post-traumatic stress disorder (6per cent of Australians) and social phobia (5 per cent). Other types include generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder.

When to seek helpIf you have a lot of worries that are out of proportion to the cause a lot of the time, see your doctor or other health professional. Seek treatment sooner rather than later. If left untreated, your symptoms might start to take over  and affect your relationships.

Conventional treatmentsYour doctor is a good first port of call if you need help. They can talk to you about the treatment options, and check whether you have an underlying health problem contributing to your anxiety.

Psychological therapyPsychological therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, are very effective and are the first choice of treatment. CBT helps you to change the underlying thoughts that cause your anxiety, and to learn more helpfulbehaviours.Your GP might draw up a mental health treatment plan so you can get a Medicare rebate for psychological treatment. You can do CBT one-on-one with a health professional, in groups or online.

MedicinesIf you have more severe anxiety, and psychological therapy alone isn’t helping, an antidepressant combined with psychological therapy might help.

Self-helpSelf-help strategies can help you  manage your life better, and get better control of yoursymptoms.Learn about anxiety and how to manage it.Confide in trusted friends and relatives.Ask for help and support when you need it.Learn breathing and muscle-relaxationtechniques. Spend time relaxing and doing things youenjoy.Learn good sleeping habits. Stay active and eat well.Don’t let work take over your life.Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake.Cut out illegal drugs.

OutlookThe anxiety symptoms might not disappear  altogether after treatment, but they should be much less of a problem. And the psychological therapy will help you to manage the anxious feelings if they do comeback.The benefits of psychological therapies for anxiety continue for at least 12 months after stopping the therapy, and they could be expected to continue for as long as you apply the skills you have learnt.

Possible complicationsPeople with anxiety disorders sometimes have other mental health issues, such as depression or drug and alcohol problems. It is important to also deal with these  in order to maximise your chances of getting well.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.