Types of anxiety

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Stressed Woman
It appears that we are leading busier lives than ever before and juggling endless responsibilities, so it’s no surprise that this often leads to feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Anxiety or the feeling of fear, unease and worry can present itself in many different situations, often at the most inopportune times.

  1. Performance anxiety – You may have heard the Seinfeld joke that most people would rather be in the coffin than read a eulogy at a funeral. While this may be an exaggeration, many of us would agree. Performance anxiety, also known as ‘stage fright’, refers to the fear and apprehension of public speaking, performing in front of people or a situation where we are the centre of attention. If this sounds like something you’ve experienced, then you are certainly not alone.

    In fact, public speaking ranks among many peoples’ greatest fears, more so than flying on planes, spiders or heights.1 Symptoms of performance or public speaking anxiety vary, but most are pretty familiar – sweaty palms, faster heart and breath rate, shaking limbs, quivering voice, an uneasy feeling in the stomach and dry mouth.2 While this may be extremely distressing, there are techniques that can help you manage your symptoms and overcome your fear. In addition to relaxation methods and lifestyle changes, it’s recommended to visualise a successful outcome, practise practise practise, take deep breaths and smile.3

  2. Workplace anxiety – Most of us spend more time at work than we do at home, so it is no surprise that it can be a great source of stress and anxiety. Work‐related stress may be caused by feeling under pressure if the demands of our job are greater than we can comfortably manage or due to conflict with co‐workers or bosses, constant change or threats to job security.4

    This may cause anxiety, fatigue, sleeping difficulties, heart palpitations, headaches, a drop in performance, reduced ability to concentrate or make decisions and an increase in sick days.4 A person suffering with stress induced workplace anxiety may help themselves in a number of ways – by talking with their employer or human resources manager, prioritising tasks, taking care of themselves with a healthy diet, regular exercise and relaxation and perhaps seeking professional counselling.4

  3. Parenting anxiety – It‘s not uncommon for parents to experience a little anxiety, especially first time parents with a new baby at home. After the excitement of birth, first time mothers may start to feel physically uncomfortable, exhausted, worried about managing feeding and overwhelmed with all they need to do for the baby.5 To help deal with any new parenting anxiety, it’s recommended to get proper rest, exercise and time out, even for a short time. Importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help and if you are often feeling down or anxious, talk to your healthcare professional.5

    Parenting anxiety can continue as children get older, and it’s not unusual for parents to worry about their offspring’s health, happiness, safety or future. Just about any parenting problem can become a source of parenting anxiety ‐ bedwetting, fussy eaters or bullying at school, which many of us face from time to time. If this anxiety is interfering with your ability to go about your daily activities, it’s important to talk to your partner or other parents about your concerns, as it is often helpful to know that other people are going through the same thing. Once again, looking after yourself by eating well, exercising and getting enough rest is also important, as is seeking professional help if necessary.

  4. Hormonal anxiety – Hormone activity is responsible for a number of different physiological changes and may impact on the way we feel. Anxiety is a common symptom of PMS, which may occur in the lead up to menstruation and could be accompanied by irritability, headaches, fatigue, bloating, anger and food cravings.6 Women may also be susceptible to hormonal anxiety with menopause due to the fluctuations in hormone levels.

    The physical symptoms often experienced by menopausal women including hot flushes, night sweats, forgetfulness, vaginal dryness and difficulty sleeping may also contribute to anxious feelings. The unpleasant symptoms of PMS and menopause, including hormonal anxiety, may be managed through maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, incorporating relaxation techniques into your day, remaining positive, considering natural remedies and/or talking to your healthcare professional.

  5. Family anxiety – There are many sources of stress and anxiety within the family system including financial woes, divorce, conflict or loss, and these can impact on all family members. Children will often sense the anxiety or tension in the adults around them and they may experience the same feelings of helplessness. Unlike adults however, children have little experience to help them place the current situation into perspective.7

    It’s important to tackle family anxiety early on before it affects relationships and family dynamics or takes over your life. To help manage stress and anxiety in the family, spend time together and encourage everyone, including small children, to talk about their concerns, be honest and open about the situation and try to maintain your daily routine as much as possible.7

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Published July 30, 2013
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