What are the common triggers of anxiety?

What is Anxiety: The Common Triggers

Anxiety is characterised by feelings of excessive worry, anxiety or fear that result in disruption to daily activities. Often this can result in avoidance of the thought stressor to provide short-term relief. This is the longer-term usual that makes the anxiety more intense when confronting the stressor. It’s important to ask ourselves: “Is this a threat to my safety, or an avoidant behaviour that is feeding into the anxiety?”

Common triggers of anxiety:

  • work stress or job change.
  • change in living arrangements.
  • pregnancy and giving birth.
  • family and relationship problems.
  • major emotional shock following a stressful or traumatic event.
  • verbal, sexual, physical or emotional abuse or trauma.
  • death or loss of a loved one.
  • returning to the office after the COVID lockdown.

To start, it is important to understand what anxiety symptoms can look like as often these can be mistaken for other medical concerns such as heart pain and difficulties with breathing. Anxiety is a mental health disorder that is characterised by feelings of excessive worry, anxiety or fear that results in disruption to daily activities.

What is anxiety?

There is a range of anxiety disorders including panic disorder, specific phobias, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

What are the common signs and symptoms of anxiety?

The symptoms of anxiety include high levels of stress that are disproportionate to the impact of the event. You may also find that you are experiencing an inability to set aside worry and restlessness. You may find that you often tire or fatigue easily, or experience significant difficulties with concentrating. Some individuals have explained the difficulty with concentrating as their minds going blank. It can also have an impact on your muscles due to increased tension, resulting from stress and the body tensing up tight.

This is where relaxation strategies as part of the treatment approach to manage anxiety can be helpful. We need to look at ways to relax the body physiologically and to find a way to send signals to the brain that “we are safe” and “there is no threat” — as often the muscles tense up with our brain perceives a real of ‘false alarm’ threat within our environment.

You may also notice that you are feeling more irritable and easily annoyed with loved ones or family members. Often this can result in being snappier and withdrawing from people closest to us. This is usually a result of our window of tolerance reducing due to a range of identifiable stressors using up all our mental capacity.

What are the common treatment modalities for anxiety disorders?

The evidence-based treatment for anxiety disorders may include counselling with a psychologist or medication, including antidepressants. The medication will need to be assessed and prescribed by your GP or Psychiatrist; however, a Psychologist at Positive Wellbeing Psychology will be able to conduct assessments to determine the severity of your anxiety symptoms, along with a detailed assessment using the biopsychosocial model to determine the best treatment needs for your circumstance as individuals needs vary.

What therapy approaches are found most effective for anxiety disorders?

There are a number of evidence-based anxiety treatment approaches that our professional and qualified anxiety psychologists will adopt at Positive Wellbeing Psychology. These treatment approaches may include:

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Exposure Therapy (Behaviour Therapy)
  • Interpersonal Therapy
  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Positive Psychology
  • Narrative Therapy

The therapeutic treatment approach will depend on the biopsychosocial assessment that is conducted with your psychologists. Clients of Positive Wellbeing Psychology will receive an individualised treatment plan according to their needs, which will be completed early on in therapy. This treatment plan will ensure therapy goals are achieved in a safe and supportive clinical setting.

What to expect when seeing a psychologist for an anxiety disorder?

Your psychologist would usually ask you questions relating to your symptoms, symptom onset, current lifestyle, and coping strategies that you may use from time to time. These may include maladaptive coping strategies such as binge eating, drinking excessive alcohol or substance use. A psychologist would provide education about what anxiety is, why it has developed and strategies that are proven to reduce the symptoms of anxiety.

Our Melbourne psychologists at Positive Wellbeing Psychology are highly skilled and trained in a range of well-researched therapies and techniques to manage anxiety, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which is highly efficacious in alleviating anxiety or panic symptoms.

It is important to reach out to professional support as soon as possible as anxiety left untreated can last a lifetime and cause significant disruption in daily life.

How can Positive Wellbeing Psychology help?

At Positive Wellbeing Psychology, our experienced Melbourne psychologists have a special interest in anxiety management, fostering a healthy self-esteem, and nurturing healthier relationships. Our psychologists guide individuals to better understand the intricate dynamics of life changes that contribute to anxiety, adopting evidence-based approaches including cognitive-behavioural therapy.  

We believe that recognising and addressing one’s vulnerabilities during therapy has the potential to foster personal growth and inner resilience. This highlights the transformative power of the therapeutic process.

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