What are anxiety and depression?

Anxiety is a normal emotion that is needed for survival, and is experienced by all people. Other words used to describe the emotion include fear, shyness, worry, nerves or stress. The extent or degree of anxiety felt in stressful situations differs from person to person, as do coping strategies used to deal with anxious feelings. When people experience anxiety to such an extent that it interferes with their daily functioning or life enjoyment, it may be a good idea to seek outside help.

Depression and sadness are also normal emotions at moderate levels and is experienced by most people when they lose something of importance to themselves. The extent of sadness and how long it lasts varies from situation to situation and from person to person. However, when depressed feelings last for a long time and interfere with your ability to do things, it is worth seeking help. 

Around one in seven Australians suffer an emotional disorder like anxiety or depression at any point in time. Anxiety and depression are common emotional problems and affect people across their lifespan. Huge costs to the community come through increased use of medical services, disrupted social contacts, increased family disruption and reduced academic and career achievements. The work we do at the Centre for Emotional Health (CEH) is all about improving people’s quality of life.

Fortunately, there are several very effective treatments for anxiety and depressive disorders. These include psychological treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and medications, such as tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The psychological treatments we offer at the CEH are provided in groups or individually as appropriate, assisting people with life skills and coping tools for self-help.

Anxiety in Adults takes many forms.

Childhood Anxiety is one of the most common health issues facing children.

Adult Anxiety

Adult anxiety is the most common form of mental disorder. Work stress, relationship difficulties, having a child or thinking of future goals like retirement are everyday features that can be common causes of anxiety in adults. Common forms that anxiety can take include fears of social interactions and other people, fears of physical symptoms, fears of germs or sickness, repeated panic attacks, worry about everyday activities and problems, and worries about past events or future dangers.

Anxiety often includes physical symptoms such as sweating, a racing or pounding heart, blushing, trembling, nausea, chest pain or feeling dizzy. Anxiety generally occurs as a response to a feared situation and is made worse by negative or fearful thoughts. Common negative thoughts include “everyone thinks I’m stupid”, “I am incompetent”, “I am having a heart attack”, or “I will get sick or hurt”. Worries, fears, shyness and anxiety can affect all aspects of a person’s life including their social relationships, work, personal and family relationships, or their physical health.

Adult Anxiety Treatment Programs via the Centre for Emotional Health Clinic

Internet-based Adult Treatment Programs via the eCentreClinic

Childhood Anxieties

Anxiety in Children

Difficulties managing negative emotions like anxiety and depression are the most common mental health issues that affect children. Around 1 in 10 children have an emotional health disorder and this can cause children to perform below their best, have fewer friends, and miss out on activities that other children enjoy like sleepovers. Parents of children who struggle managing anxiety and depression often report that they must change the way the family works day to day so that their child does not get upset. In the long term, these children are more likely to have mental health problems throughout their life and they may difficulty making the transition to employment and independent living.

Listen to Professor Ron Rapee speak about anxiety in children

Listen to Professor Ron Rapee speak about what parents need to know about treatment for children with anxiety disorders

Child anxiety may takes several different forms including:  worrying that something bad will happen and finding it difficult to be away from mum and dad (separation anxiety);being extremely shy, worrying about what others think of them and avoiding activities like parties, asking for help or speaking in front of the class (social anxiety); worrying a lot about everyday matters like school work, family, being on time and world events (Generalised anxiety); having to repeat actions or thoughts over and over to stop feeling bad (obsessive compulsive anxiety); feeling distressed, having nightmares and being scared after a traumatic event (post traumatic fears). Anxious older children may also start to experience depression including: feeling sad, low in energy, unmotivated, down on themself and feeling like there is nothing to look forward to in life. Physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, difficulty breathing and diarrhoea can be part of these feelings. Emotionally distressed children also often have difficulties with sleep.

Child and Teenager Anxiety Treatment Programs

How do I know if my child’s anxiety is normal?

Most children have fears or worries of some form. To work out whether your child’s anxiety is normal, ask yourself the following question: Is my child’s anxiety stopping him/her from doing things he/she wants to be able to do or interfering with his/her friendships, schoolwork or family life? If the answer to this important question is “Yes a great deal!” then consider seeking professional help. Anxiety that is severe can impact on a child’s health and happiness. Some anxious children will grow out of their fears. Other children, unless they receive treatment, will continue to experience interference from their anxiety and subsequent problems throughout their lives.

Types of child anxieties (click on)

Other questions to ask are:

Do most other children the same age also have the same fear or worry?
For example, it is normal for most children to experience separation fears when going to preschool or school for the first time. This fear is less normal at age 8 for example and may prompt you to seek help.

How severe is my child’s reaction?
If a child is inconsolable or extremely distressed and hard to settle, this can start to interfere with the child’s and the family’s routine and is another reason to seek help.

Treatment options available for children

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