Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia and it doesn’t discriminate. On average, one in four people will suffer from an anxiety disorder at some point and another 25 per cent of the population will experience less severe symptoms.
Sufferers often experience more than one type of disorder including panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder and social phobias. To help shed light on these conditions, celebrities like Rebecca Gibney are starting to talk about their own anxiety.
In particular, panic disorder is characterised by recurring and unexpected panic attacks that happen several times a day or once every few years. They often involve feelings of overwhelming panic or fear, thoughts of losing control or dying, difficulty breathing, excessive sweating, increased heart rate and dizziness.
For Rebecca, who experienced her first panic attack at 14, these symptoms are very familiar.
“I can feel my heart rate start to quicken and I start to feel physically sick. It’s a feeling that you are losing control and sometimes it can be so bad you feel like you’re having a heart attack,” she explains.
After an emotional collapse, Gibney sought the help of a psychiatrist and uses breathing techniques and meditation to deal with potential attacks and minor stresses. “I haven’t had one for eight or nine years, but I wouldn’t say I’m cured.”
Panic disorder is triggered by unrelenting stress, negative experiences, some medical conditions or a family history of anxiety or depression.
There are many psychological treatments available, and Gibney says taking responsibility for her mental and physical wellbeing also helped her.
If you, or someone you know, feel anxious or are showing signs of anxiety, know that you’re not alone. Contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 for a free, confidential chat or visit their website for more information.
Learn more about anxiety, including other celebrities who have this mental health condition, in this month’s edition of Good Health magazine, available from your local newsagency or supermarket.