We’ve heard the term “anxiety” thrown around a lot, but what is it really? And is it affecting you or your child?

Anxiety is a vague unpleasant emotional state, which can involve worry, distress, and uneasiness. It’s the body’s response to danger when we face challenging or dangerous situations.  It’s completely normal to feel tense or scared when we feel threatened.  A degree of anxiety is actually useful in certain situations, as it helps keep us alert and focused.

Sometimes, however, these feelings can be constant, overwhelming, and debilitating.  It becomes a problem when the fears and anxieties interfere with everyday life.

Some tell-tale signs of anxiety

There are both physical and psychological symptoms you or your child may experience – we’ve listed some of the most common ones below:


  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Sweating
  • Feelings of choking
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches


  • Feeling tense and restless
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Crying
  • Withdrawal
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Tantrums
  • Clinging to parents or guardians
  • Excessive fear and worry

The symptoms you or your child experience can vary depending on what has triggered the symptoms and also on the type of anxiety. Some of the common types are Generalised Anxiety Disorder, specific phobias, separation anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

When should I ask for help?

If you notice the presence of these symptoms for 6 months or more, or if they are impacting on your (or your child’s) everyday life, then it may be helpful to seek support. You may find you have developed your own strategies to cope with these feelings, which may not be the most helpful in the long run. Children in particular may avoid the situation (the trigger) or rely on their parents to “fix it”. This in turn can increase the anxious feelings and make it more difficult for the child to cope with everyday stresses at home, school and social settings.

When looking for support, your GP or Paediatrician is a good starting point.  They can refer to a psychologist under a Mental Health Care Plan, which gives you access to a rebate through Medicare (see our Medicare blog for more info on how this works).  A psychologist can help you or your child understand these feelings and develop appropriate coping skills to manage anxiety.

So, anxiety is not a dirty word! It describes feelings that we all experience, and it’s ok to ask others for support if it starts impacting our daily lives.


If you would like further information on anxiety, or have concerns or questions about a loved one, call us on (03) 9768 9990 to arrange an appointment with one of our psychologists.




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