Anxiety and Panic

What is anxiety and panic?

Anxiety in my body

Anxiety and panic can make you feel very uncomfortable in your body. Because it triggers activity in the brainstem which is the survival part of the brain. However from an evolutionary perspective this is very necessary for our survival. We may need to use all of our physical and mental resources to escape a life threatening situation. Understanding how your brain is functioning when your anxiety is triggered can help you manage some of the symptoms of anxiety and panic when you are distressed.

Often our rational minds know we do not need to be so anxious about a situation but this does not help. Physical reactions can be automatically triggered through a process we call operant conditioning. Our psychologists have training in the neuroscience of anxiety and a range of evidence based treatments they will explain to you.

Physical anxiety symptoms

  • increased heart rate
  • breathing rapidly or shortness of breath
  • sweating
  • trembling
  • feeling tired or weak
  • dizziness
  • choking
  • dry mouth
  • stomach or chest pain
  • diarrhea
  • blushing
  • muscle tension and headaches
  • difficulty sleeping and nightmares
  • hot and cold flushes
  • feeling tense, wound up and edgy

Everybody will feel stressed, irritable, exhausted and sad some of the time in their lives. This is completely normal and all part of being human. A part of the brain that is activated with anxiety is the amygdala. This is part of our limbic system and triggers a fight or flight response in the body.

Sometimes this response can be triggered because of a stressful event in our lives and when we get through this period we start to feel better. When we suffer from generalized anxiety or panic disorder this physical reaction and the accompanying worrying thoughts keep returning.

There are different types of anxiety such as generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and specific phobias. It is important you have a thorough clinical assessment with an experienced psychologist or clinical psychologist.

Your psychologist at Barrenjoey Psychology will have the skills and expertise to determine which type of anxiety you are suffering from. They will provide you with information to understand the anxiety and decide on an evidence based treatment method.

If you are in crisis or require urgent care please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or call 000 for an ambulance.