Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried.
While stress and anxious feelings can be a common response, they usually pass once the stressful situation has passed or the ‘stressor’ is removed.
Everyone feels anxious from time to time.
When anxious feelings don’t go away, happen without reason or make it hard to cope with daily life, it may be the sign of an anxiety condition.
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. On average, one in four people will experience anxiety at some stage in their life. There are many ways to help manage anxiety and the sooner people with anxiety get support, the more likely they are to recover.
People in maritime, especially the commercial fishing sector are at high risk of anxiety due to the uncertainty of the industry. Causes include government regulations, catch rates, weather and of course, the current pandemic adding increased financial pressure.
This can, and often does lead to anxiety for not only the operators but their families as well!
Signs and symptoms
The symptoms of an anxiety condition are often not obvious as they develop slowly and given we all experience some anxiety in our lives, it can be hard to know how much is ‘too’ much.
Normal anxiety tends to be limited in time and connected with some stressful situation or event, such as a job interview.
The type of anxiety associated with a condition is more frequent or persistent, not always connected to an obvious challenge, and impacts on their quality of life and day-to-day functioning.
While each anxiety condition has its own unique features, there are some common symptoms including:
- Physical: panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening of the chest, quick breathing, restlessness, or feeling tense, wound up and edgy
- Psychological: excessive fear, worry, catastrophizing, or obsessive thinking
- Behavioural: avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious which can impact on study, work or social life
These are just some of a number of symptoms that you might experience and are a guide only. They are not designed to provide a diagnosis, for that, you must see your Doctor.
Types of anxiety
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) Is where a person feels anxious on most days, worrying about lots of different things for a period of 6 months or more.
Social anxiety is where a person has an intense fear of being criticised, embarrassed or humiliated, even in everyday situations, such as speaking publicly, eating in public, being assertive at work or making small talk.
Specific phobias is where a person feels very fearful about a particular object or situation and may go to great lengths to avoid it, for example, having an injection or travelling on a plane. There are many different types of phobias.
Panic disorder is where a person has panic attacks, which are intense, overwhelming and often uncontrollable feelings of anxiety combined with a range of physical symptoms. Someone having a panic attack may experience shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness and excessive perspiration. Sometimes, people experiencing a panic attack think they are having a heart attack or are about to die. If a person has recurrent panic attacks or persistently fears having one for more than a month, they’re said to have panic disorder.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) This is where a person has ongoing unwanted/intrusive thoughts and fears that cause anxiety. Although the person may acknowledge these thoughts as silly, they often try to relieve their anxiety by carrying out certain behaviours or rituals. For example, a fear of germs and contamination can lead to constant washing of hands and clothes.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) This can happen after a person experiences a traumatic event (e.g. assault, accident, disaster). Symptoms can include difficulty relaxing, upsetting dreams or flashbacks of the event, and avoidance of anything related to the event. PTSD is diagnosed when a person has symptoms for at least a month.
If you are experiencing any of the above, please seek help immediately. Not seeking help can lead to life threatening situations which may be prevented.
Help is there for anyone suffering anxiety. Although it can be hard to reach out and ask for help, I strongly recommend taking that step because in most cases early intervention can prevent more longer-term effects.
You can always contact Beyond Blue for mental wellbeing support on 1300 224 636 or call me on 0423 313 790 for assistance.
Please note that support from family and friends can make all the difference for someone with anxiety, depression or suicidal feelings. There are lots of things you can do from noticing changes in their behaviour through to practical support to help them recover and manage their condition.