Learning how to deal with your anxiety can be your pathway to freedom
For those of us experiencing anxiety, the intensity of these feelings can be difficult to shake, alleviate and cope with. We may have symptoms of anxiety that are short-lived and disappear after a few days or weeks, particularly when external stress factors subside, but for many of us, however, the pain and suffering of anxiety does not disappear on its own. These feelings can be constant, overwhelming and debilitating, which can ultimately limit our ability to live a healthy and happy life.
“A lot of people come into treatment and have no idea they have been living with anxiety for much of their life, while for some the symptoms can be so debilitating that it stops them from being able to function in their daily lives,” says Tori McCarthy, a senior therapist at Sydney's South Pacific Private.
“Anxiety can manifest in physical sensations including palpitations, trembling, nausea, fatigue, sweating, chest tightness and shortness of breath,” she adds.
“I was not diagnosed with anxiety until I got into recovery. It was only then that I realised how my body and mind were responding to the world around me and to my internal dialogue which either lived in the past or the future. I was so used to feeling this way that I had no idea that there was something else on offer.”
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. In fact, over two million Australians or nearly 15 per cent of the Australian adult population suffers from anxiety.
According to McCarthy, it’s important to understand that there are different forms of diagnosable, treatable anxiety disorders, ranging from Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder (commonly referred to as panic attacks) to forms of anxiety which are triggered by substances, including alcohol and marijuana. She says anxiety is also often accompanied by other mental health or addiction issues. This is known as dual diagnosis.
“The way my anxiety manifested was through hypervigilance, irritability, restlessness and racing thoughts,” explains McCarthy.
“What sets the feelings of anxiety apart from a regular experience of emotions is that they occur out of all proportion with external causation factors; they can even occur suddenly with no apparent explanation or trigger. There are certain things that trigger my anxiety such as public speaking, meeting new people or when my core belief of I’m not good enough gets triggered. Now that I’m in recovery I have learnt to manage these triggers and the feeling of anxiety when it creeps up.”
At South Pacific Private, we address the underlying causes of anxiety, while treating the symptoms of your anxiety. Our compassionate team of clinicians provide support and equip you with strategies for long-term recovery from your anxiety.
“I am a strong believer that everyone’s recovery tool box needs to be individual to them as what creates a sense of calm for me might make you anxious,” says McCarthy. “Today when I feel anxious I do things like sing, get out in nature, breath, talk to a friend, listen to music and dance it out.
“Having worked here at South Pacific Private for three years now I have learnt a lot about myself through the model of developmental immaturity and how my adaptations impact my mental health and anxiety disorder. When I’m operating from my adapted adult child (Pia Mellody), I am controlling, believe I need to be better than what I am or am better than you, I don’t reach out for help and I have walls up not boundaries. This place can feel safe and like I am in control but over time I get exhausted and my anxiety takes over,” she adds. “The Program at South Pacific Private supports us to move out of our adaptions and into functional adult behaviour.”
If you’re concerned you may have a problem with anxiety, you can use our self-assessment tool here or call our intake team on 1800 063 332. Our Mastering Moods and Anxiety Program focuses on evidence-based coping skills and tools to help you manage your anxiety and cope with everyday life in a more productive way.
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