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Anxiety disorders

Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotional experience that we all have from time to time. However, when anxiety is experienced excessively, or it persists over time, it can become difficult to manage and can interfere in a person’s life.  An anxiety disorder may be diagnosed when anxiety or worries are intense, feel out of control, and make it hard to cope with everyday activities and experiences.

Anxiety is the most commonly experienced mental health condition in Australia for children, adolescents, and adults alike. Some of the most commonly experienced anxiety conditions are listed below.  Anxiety is very treatable with psychological therapy.



Phobias are common. They are characterized by extreme and unreasonable fear or worry about a particular object or situation.  The worry or fear can become interfering, stopping a person from doing something they need or want to do. Some common phobias for children and adolescents include fear of dogs, insects, swimming, heights, loud noises, and injections (needles).  Common phobias for adults include fear of heights, spiders, closed spaces and flying.


Separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is a childhood fear.  Children with separation anxiety have excessive fear or worry about being separated from parents or caregivers that they are very close to, such as a grandparent or a nanny, or fear of separating from or leaving their home.  Separation anxiety is often seen in younger children.  It is less common in adolescents.  Children may cling or cry when a parent leaves the home, they may refuse to go to school, on play dates, or to sleep alone in their own bed. They may not be able to be alone in a different room from the parent or caregiver even in their own home.


Social anxiety

Individuals with social anxiety have an intense fear of social situations or performance situations because they worry about doing something embarrassing or being judged negatively by others. They may avoid social activities such as going to parties, performing in recitals, speaking to their peers or colleagues, or in extreme circumstances, even avoiding going to school or work.  People with social anxiety may go to work out of necessity but experience high levels of daily stress.


Generalised anxiety (excessive worry)

People with generalised anxiety worry so much, and uncontrollably about daily things; they are “worry warts”. The things people worry about vary a lot, but may include finances, climate, loved ones, world events, natural disasters, pandemics, bad things happening in the future, worrying about being on time or making mistakes. Young people may additionally worry about their schoolwork, or their parents divorcing.


Health Anxiety

Individuals with health anxiety worry excessively about their health, or various little physical symptoms, and they worry that they may have an illness or a disease condition. These health worries are over-the-top and uncontrollable, and often result in frequently missed days of school or work, googling to try to find answers, visits to medical professionals, and a need for lots of reassurance from loved ones.