Recognising anxiety symptoms, a psychologist explains


2 minutes

23 September 2022

If you often find yourself imagining scenarios, unable to escape thoughts of worry, or easily overwhelmed – you’re not alone, and talking to a psychologist could help.

Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. On average, one in four people will experience anxiety at some stage in their life1. The good news is there are many ways to help manage anxiety. Psychologist Susannah Kimmel explains the most common questions around anxiety.

What is a healthy amount of anxiety?

A certain level of anxiety is natural and even helpful in stressful situations. It can keep you alert and assertive in the face of stress. However, some of us feel this revved-up fight/flight response way too much of the time or so intensely that we avoid really important things.

That’s when we might need to ask for the help of a therapist.

Signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder

Signs of anxiety include:

  • Being stuck in your head with obsessive worry or imagining scenarios
  • The inability to relax
  • Feeling overwhelmed or irritable
  • Always needing things to go how you want
  • Avoiding the situations that bring up these anxious feelings

When to see a psychologist

A therapist can help you understand why you find certain scenarios so threatening and help you to manage your anxiety, so it has less of an impact on your life.

In the modern world, the threats we face don’t always require us to fight back or run away. Therapists can help you to manage this physiological arousal and provide tools to help negotiate the kind of threats that you face at work or in relationships.

Your psychologist might teach you ways to reduce the intensity of the physical response or detach from the worries and pressure you put on yourself.

Don’t fear the fear

A lot of anxiety is made worse when we notice we are starting to get anxious and panic that it’ll get worse, or someone will notice.

Instead remember it’s just that natural internal threat alarm going off and you can help slow it down with deep breaths or looking at some photos of a good memory or loved one.

“Reaching out to a loved one, getting a hug, these things are the best at calming our nervous system down for most of us,” says Susannah.

24/7 support, you're not alone.

There are also some great free services available through mental health organisations such as:

For a full list of services recommended by the government, check out the Head to Health service providers page.

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1 Beyond Blue - Anxiety fact sheet


This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.