Occasional feelings of stress and worry are a familiar part of everyone’s life, especially when they can be attributed to specific events or issues, and pass once the issue is resolved. Anxiety is a mental health condition where the feelings of stress or worry don’t go away, feel uncontrollable, affect a person’s day to day life or don’t seem to have a specific cause. It can be a serious condition and can make it hard to cope with daily tasks.
Anxiety can present in lots of different ways, but some common forms are:
Generalised anxiety disorder – A person has continual feelings of anxiety for a period of six months or more.
Social anxiety – A person feels anxious when having to engage in social interaction, or even in public spaces. This can be due to a fear of being embarrassed or criticised, or for no specific reason.
Phobia – A phobia is an intense fear of something that a person will try to avoid having to interact with, sometimes impacting on their ability to live a safe or happy life.
Panic disorder – A panic disorder is when a person is experiencing recurring panic attacks for longer than a month. A panic attack is an overwhelming feeling of anxiety that develops into an uncontrollable reaction that may include shortness of breath, increased heart rate, chest pain, dizziness and sweating.
Two other disorders that are closely linked with anxiety are Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). PTSD can develop after a person has experienced a traumatic event. Symptoms can include difficulty relaxing, upsetting dreams or flashbacks of the event, and avoidance of anything related to the event. OCD is when a person has persistent intrusive thoughts that they recognise are untrue and unhelpful but cause them to carry out certain behaviours or rituals to relieve or satisfy the thoughts.
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia
How The Florey is making a difference
Our scientists are working with teenagers to uncover what makes them more prone to anxiety than adults. We are also testing compounds in preclinical models to find out whether they could make cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety more effective.
- CaMKK2 control of neuronal function and complex behaviour in health and disease
- Characterising novel drug therapies to target cognitive symptoms in schizophrenia
- Deep-learning based tracking of behaviour in preclinical models for mental illness
- Developing better treatments for mental illness: unravelling the molecular machinery at synapses to therapeutically target disruptions in complex behaviour and cognition
- Do the beneficial effects of exercise involve miRNA-mediated regulation of gene expression?
Latest Florey news on Anxiety
- ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics), 2023, National study of mental health and wellbeing (Latest Release), accessed 1 June 2023.
- AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare), Mental illness, accessed 1 June 2023.