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General anxiety

General Anxiety Disorder is one of the most common anxiety disorders with approximately 6% of the adult population experiencing it at some point in their lives. It is often associated with other mental health conditions such as depression or drug and alcohol problems.
This section deals with the complex issue of Anxiety Disorder, why it can happen and what you can do about it.

General anxiety

What is anxiety?

For ease of reading we’ll refer to anxiety throughout this section although the condition is officially known as General Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety is very common and if you do suffer from anxiety, you are 5 times more likely to suffer depression and twice as likely to have problems with alcohol or drugs

People with anxiety tend to worry excessively about lots of things – family, finances, health and issues at work. These feelings last for several months or longer. Other symptoms can be:

  • Feeling constantly on edge
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling tired or easily exhausted
  • Trouble concentrating on a task
  • Feeling angry and irritable

Why do I have anxiety?

It can be triggered by a stressful event such as losing your job, breaking up with your partner or it can be brought about by periods of prolonged stress or, most likely, by a combination of things. Sometimes the reasons can be obvious and dealing with the reasons behind it can be of help, other times the reasons or triggers are not so obvious or may seem relatively minor.

What can I do about it?

One of the most effective treatments for anxiety is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This approach recognises that the way we think and act affects the way we feel. With the help of a therapist or counsellor, you will learn:

  • A step-by-step approach to manage day-to-day stresses, so that they don’t seem so overwhelming
  • How to challenge your negative thinking that may be triggering and maintaining your worry

There are also strategies you can employ to help you manage the physical symptoms of anxiety. These include relaxation and breathing exercises.

If you have tried self-management but feel it’s not enough:

  • Your doctor or other mental health professional is always a good place to start. He or she can help with a thorough assessment of the problem and may even prescribe antidepressants to help you manage your anxiety. They can also make referrals for specialists.
  • Try the helpful thinking, keeping calm, sleeping better and problem solving modules in this toolkit
    View pdf
    Everyday Resilience - NZDF Resilience Toolkit
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    [PDF, 764 KB]