What is Anxiety and how do I know If I have it?

‘Anxiety’ is the term used to describe excessive fear, stress, worry and nervousness. This is very different to the general type of anxiousness you may feel when you are doing a speech in front of a crowd or attending a job interview. This anxiety interferes with your day to day life, work, social interactions and emotional and physical health. 

What Causes Anxiety?

Anxiety is not caused by 1 single factor, in fact it differs from person to person. In saying that there are 2 main categories that contribute to anxiety which have been debated over for years!!

  • The first one being Genetic factors (Such as family history of mental health issues, personality traits and physical health).

  • The Second on is Environmental Factors (Such as Ongoing stressful events, adversities, pregnancy, motherhood, lifestyle etc.)

The onset of anxiety differs from person to person and so do the triggers differ. How often it occurs as well as the intensity it is experienced is also VERY individual, it is important to constantly remind everyone that no one fits into a set ‘mould’ and you don’t ever need to!

What is a Panic Attack?

A Panic Attack refers to the sudden onset of what many describe as an intense FEAR and ANXIETY. These feelings are usually accompanied by numerous physical symptoms and sensations that essentially take over the ‘moment’ and leave the individual scared, frustrated and full of adrenaline. Some of the common symptoms experienced during a panic attack include (although not restricted to) Racing heart, tingling sensation in the hands or legs, nausea, sweaty palms, feeling faint or dizzy, shortness of breath and negative scary thoughts that feel like they are uncontrollable.

Does Diet Play a Role in My Anxiety?

Yes absolutely! Anxiety is not necessarily caused by what we eat although diet does plays a huge role in our mental and emotional wellbeing. Incorporating a healthy balanced diet and looking after/nourishing your Gut Health is super important and something worth being mindful of. The Gut/ Brain connection is evident and often referred to as the ‘second brain’, research has shown an interesting link between mood, digestion, health and Mindset. When anxious it pays to stay away from highly processed foods, large amounts of refined sugars, caffeine and alcohol. Not only do these items do your gut no favours but they also often heighten your anxiety levels. (Of course, everyone is affected by these differently and it is important to listen to YOUR body and what it is telling you)

On the contrary, there are also foods that benefit your gut and overall wellbeing. A good probiotic to improve your gut health is always advisable and diet enriched in good proteins, Nuts and fresh fruit and vegies is always a great start, fermented foods and natural yoghurts are also great to increase the good bacteria in the gut! Be sure to amp up the H2O (Be creative by adding fresh fruit and herbs to your water to keep it fun and your taste buds excited). Herbal Teas are a great way to keep up your fluids, especially in winter! Not only do they warm you up but all serve a role as far as health benefits go both physically and mentally.

Do I have to take medication to overcome anxiety?

No. Medication is only ONE form of treatment and not necessarily suitable for everyone. Please don’t feel that this is the only path to go down because there are many other options, it is important to figure out which is the right one for you and your circumstances. This can be achieved by discussing it with a health care professional of your choice and weighing up all the pro’s and con’s before making a decision. Just remember what worked for someone else may not work for you so a lot of it is trial and error as well. If you do decide to go down the path of medication please also consider doing some counselling to go along with it, this will provide you with all the information, tools and education you need to tackle anxiety increasing long term results! 

Can Children Experience Anxiety?

Yes, unfortunately anxiety does not discriminate Age, Gender or Race. Children of all ages can experience anxiety, it is often treated very differently to the way adults are treated based on the age group. There are practitioners who specialise in the treatment of Children with Anxiety as well as many other mental health issues. It is often a combination of working with both the children and the parents to develop a treatment plan as well the inclusion of schools and teacher involvement if need be. Play Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) are some of the common treatments used when working with Children. 

Is Anxiety treatable or will I have to live with this for the rest of my life?

Well I have some good news to share with you! Anxiety IS definitely treatable and you sure don’t have to live this way forever. There are numerous treatment options out there and YOU will find the right one that works best for you. What I will say is Please, Please don’t feel discouraged if you try one method and it doesn’t work for you, it’s a matter of finding a therapist/coach that you connect with and discovering what tools best help you manage and understand your anxiety. It will be hard work, there Is no doubt about that... but SOOO worth it to have your life back and be in the driver’s seat again!

What should I do if I think I have an Anxiety Disorder?

If you are concerned about having an Anxiety Disorder please feel free to contact me for a chat or get in touch with your health care professional. It is important to get on to it as soon as possible and find someone you feel comfortable to talk to and relate to. Be sure to mention any prior treatments you may have had, how they went and any family history of mental health issues. Remember to be as open and honest as possible with the practioner in order for them to offer you with the best options and treatment possible to suit you and what your going through.   

TIP: Write down any questions you may have prior, so when you do talk to someone you remember everything that is of concern to you.       


Amanda Cavallaro is an Anxiety Coach, Mum and face behind The Anxiety Wellness Queen. She is passionate about reducing the stigma associated with mental health and making a difference in the management and approach to treating anxiety. Amanda loves to travel and cook, she finds it very relaxing and therapeutic. In the last 2 years her business has moved solely online and now works with clients all over the world via phone and skype to manage their anxieties. Amanda has recently started a blog to share her knowledge and passion with the world.