A diagnosis of an anxiety disorder may be given to someone who experiences a persistent and distressing low mood, sadness, panic and worry, which is significantly affecting the way they feel and act.

In making a diagnosis of anxiety, doctors will ask about changes that are unusual for you and look for possible symptoms. These can include:

  • feeling a sense of panic or extreme fear
  • having difficulty with sleep 
  • changes in appetite
  • having trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • feeling frustration or irritability
  • wanting to withdraw from others or situations
  • physical symptoms such as difficulty breathing, dizziness, headaches, shaking, rapid heartbeat or sweating

Common anxiety disorders

Agoraphobia: an intense fear of certain situations, such as being in a crowded space or leaving your home.
Social phobia: being fearful of the judgement of others, feeling worthless and withdrawing from social situations.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): thoughts or images repeatedly entering your mind and feeling out of your control, leading to compulsion or repeated action, such as washing your hands.
Panic disorder/attacks: an extreme sense of fear, which can include sudden chest pain and dizziness.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): experiencing anxiety as a result of a traumatic or frightening event.

These types of experiences can have a significant impact on daily life, including relationships, work, physical health and sense of self. 

Treatment and support will be different for each person. Mental health professionals should help you find treatments and supports that work best for you. This may be a combination of medication, rehabilitation and professional, family, community and peer support.

A diagnosis will mean different things to different people. It is only one way of understanding your experiences and what might support your recovery. It can help to do your own research and talk to a range of professionals, trusted family and friends, or to people who have had similar experiences.

Regardless of diagnosis, people do recover and live well.

If you need to talk, call our Helpline.

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Remember, you are not alone. Hear stories from people who have been there.

For more information, please contact Wellways on 1300 111 400.