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Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders

About Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a normal human emotion. But, if it occurs too often, at the wrong time or is severe, it can become a problem and affect your quality of life. When anxiety becomes a problem we often describe it as a 'disorder'.


We know that around 1 in 7 (14%) of adults experience significant levels of anxiety every year.

There are several types of anxiety and anxiety disorders and people often have symptoms of more than one type of anxiety. But, the good news is there are effective treatments and people can successfully learn to manage their symptoms.

We believe it is essential that people learn to recognise their own symptoms of anxiety, and to learn about anxiety. Psychological treatments for anxiety, like the courses we develop, aim to teach people about anxiety and their symptoms. They also teach people proven skills for managing the symptoms and reducing anxiety and its impacts on our lives.

What are the types of anxiety and anxiety disorders?

There are many forms that anxiety can take and there are several types of anxiety disorder. We describe five of the most common types of anxiety and anxiety disorder below: 

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) - People with GAD worry excessively and have difficulty controlling their worry. They worry about many things including their health, the health of family and friends, finances, and upcoming events. GAD affects 3% of adults.

  • Social Phobia or Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) - People with social phobia have excessive fear of being judged by others. They often avoid social events or public places because of fear of embarrassment or humiliation. Social phobia affects 5% of adults.

  • Panic Disorder (PD) and Agoraphobia - People with panic disorder have excessive fear of panic attacks and worry that the panic attack means they are going to die. During a panic attack people experience sudden and strong physical symptoms including a racing heart, hyperventilation, shaking, upset stomach, and thoughts of going crazy, having a heart attack or dying. People with panic disorder often also have Agoraphobia, which is when one avoid situations because of their concerns that they will suffer a panic attack. Panic disorder affects 3% of adults.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - People with PTSD have experienced a very stressful or traumatic event. They may experience very distressing thoughts about the trauma, nightmares and difficulty sleeping, feel easily startled and on edge, become irritable or depressed, have difficulty concentrating, and may lose confidence in their ability to stay safe. PTSD affects around 5% of adults.

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - People with OCD experience excessive repetitive and unwanted thoughts which cause them to feel anxious or distressed (i.e. obsessions), and complete repetitive and time consuming behaviours or mental rituals as a way to cope with or reduce this anxiety (i.e. compulsions). OCD affects 2% of adults.

What are the symptoms of anxiety?
  • Physical Symptoms - such as muscle tension, racing heart, headaches, difficulty concentrating, stomach aches, unexplained pains, feeling restless, wound-up and on edge.


  • Behaviour Symptoms -  Such avoiding people and places, avoiding things that are associated with anxiety and fears.

  • Thought Symptoms - Such as excessive fears and worries related to your anxiety and what could go wrong, how bad things would be and your ability to cope.

What are the impacts of anxiety?

Anxiety disorders can have a significant effect on mood, self-esteem and quality of life. Many people with mild anxiety can still work, study and have healthy relationships. But, this is harder for people with moderate or severe anxiety.


Anxiety may restrict what people do and when they do it. Many people become worried that they cannot control their anxiety and may become worried that they will become isolated, lonely or depressed. People with one type of anxiety often also have symptoms of another type of anxiety and depression is also common. Unfortunately, because of their symptoms, many people with anxiety do not seek help from health professionals.

When people have severe anxiety they often also develop symptoms of depression including feeling helpless, hopeless and even suicidal. If you are having such thoughts please urgently contact your GP, another health professional, or your local mental health team. Remember, anxiety can be treated.

What are the treatments for anxiety?

The good news is that anxiety disorders are treatable regardless of age. We believe that the best treatments involve learning about your symptoms, learning how to control those symptoms, and gradually resuming your usual activities. Learning to beat anxiety takes courage, commitment and practice. But, many people successfully learn to overcome their symptoms.

For further information about treatment options and assistance you can:

  1. Talk to your General Practitioner

  2. See a Psychologist, Psychiatrist or another mental health professional

  3. Or, you can find out about our eCentreClinic Courses for treating anxiety, see here.

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