Every night, around Australia, millions of Australians are tossing and turning, lying awake worrying and unable to get back to sleep.
For the lucky ones, this is a once off in an otherwise good sleep routine, but for others it is a pattern that repeats itself night after sleepless night.
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia, affecting 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men at some stage in their life. It is normal to feel anxious and worried from time to time, usually related to stressful situation such as relationships, exams or work deadlines. Anxiety describes symptoms that are ongoing even when the stress is not present.
Symptoms of anxiety can vary from insomnia, excess worry, fear or obsessive thinking, to the physical symptoms of chest pain, nausea, palpitations, rapid breathing and feeling constantly tense and unable to relax. Panic attacks are often described as an overwhelming sense of fear accompanied by intense physical sensations of shortness of breath, racing heart and a feeling that the sufferer may be about to die. One of the other symptoms of anxiety can be the avoidance of situations that trigger anxiety, such as social occasions, school, or crowded places. In children anxiety may present as fussy eating or recurrent abdominal pain.
Anxiety can take many different forms: from specific phobias (such as fear of flying or needles), post traumatic stress disorder (reaction to traumatic event which threatened life of safety), social anxiety (related to social or performance situations), and generalised anxiety disorder. Generalised anxiety disorder is usually experienced as a sensation of worry about many different things, most of the time, rather than a specific situation.
Treatments for anxiety may include lifestyle measures, psychological therapies and medication. If you or a loved one are struggling with sleepless nights or possible anxiety, make an appointment to see your GP today.
This article was written by Dr Lucy Rosman