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By Cristy Van-Gestel

Whether you are confronted with anxiety yourself, know someone that deals with it, or it’s completely unknown to you. The fact is that in Australia anxiety effects 1 in every 10 young people (aged between 18 to 24) and has higher rates in women.

Everyone experiences worry or fear at some time as it is a normal part of living, though some people are diagnosed as having an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders vary, but the most common are:

Agoraphobia: The fear of leaving the house, and travelling on trains, trams, buses, planes or ships.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (O.C.D)

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D): Which can be brought on due to natural disasters like bush-fires and floods, or personal disasters like rape and attempted murder.

There are also social phobias like going to job interviews or meeting new people, and specific phobias like the fear of animals, injections, flying or heights.

So what exactly are we dealing with here? Anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks, are a period of intense fear or discomfort that can last from anywhere between a few minutes to over half an hour. Some symptoms of an anxiety attack are: heart palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath, nausea, chest pain or discomfort, chills or hot flushes, and trembling or shaking.

People with panic disorders will have recurrent, unexpected panic attacks, while others may find attacks occur when they are confronting or expecting particular outcomes or situations.

There is another group of panic attack sufferers that are more likely to have anxiety attacks in certain situations although it doesn’t always happen, these people have what are known as “good or bad days”.

Researchers have found a link between genetic contributions to the development of panic disorders, but psychological factors and stressful life events also contribute. There are also people who experience drug induced anxiety from using substances like cocaine, amphetamines, cannabis, caffeine, or alcohol.

Anxiety can take control of your life; it can stop you from doing day to day activities like dropping your child off at school or finally going on that holiday you truly deserve.

Research has shown that talking therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy and exposure therapy are highly effective in reducing anxiety symptoms in children and young adults.

If you or your children are experiencing anxiety attacks you should consult a doctor to rule out any possibility of an unforeseen medical condition. Once the doctor has ruled out physical illness you need to then consult with them to help decide whether you would like to try cognitive therapy or, as a last result, prescribed medication.

The following selection of articles provide more information about anxiety disorders and anxiety research:

A Guide To What Works For Anxiety Disorders – Beyond Blue, Melbourne, 2010.

Cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents – Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2005.

You can also check out the PDF file from The Royal Australian and New Zealand collage of psychiatrists.

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