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Northland DHB Mental Health - Early Psychosis Intervention Service

Public Service

Anxiety Disorders

We all feel some anxiety at some time or other. Anxiety may serve as an alerting signal, warning us of external /internal threats and consequently acting as a prompt to take appropriate action.
 
When anxiety is very severe and present even when there is no threat of any kind, then it interferes with our functioning and can become an illness. In this circumstance, anxiety becomes a disorder characterised by an unpleasant emotion with feelings of fear, threat and impending danger and can be associated with numerous bodily symptoms like breathlessness, trembling, tightness in throat, dry mouth, racing heart and nausea/vomiting.
 
There are varieties of anxiety disorders like panic attacks, phobias (unhealthy fear of something), agoraphobia (fear of feeling trapped in a situation and being unable to escape if an anxiety attack occurs), social anxiety, post-traumatic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. Anxiety can often be associated with a depressive episode.
 
Anxiety disorders are very common and if unrecognised and untreated, can cause severe disability.
 
Treatment
  • Self help: learning techniques like relaxation, distraction and education
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Medication.