Anxiety is a normal part of living, everyone experiences it at some time, and in fact it directly affects about 15% of our population right this minute.

Anxiety arises from our natural fight or flight response when we believe we are faced with danger. As such it is part of a response by our bodies to prepare us to act quickly and either confront the danger – or to just get out of its way! Sometimes however this response triggers when in fact there is no real danger, just the perception of your not being safe. If this happens occasionally and it doesn’t feel overwhelming and it doesn’t lead you to avoid situations then it may not be compromising your life very much.

For some people anxiety becomes their regular response to everyday living situations and so much of life can become really challenging. For example they may not feel safe in crowds, or may develop obsessive compulsive thought and behaviours, or have panic attacks in public places and may struggle to even leave home. With anxiety it can become difficult to make decisions but easy to ruminate on issues and to engage in worst case scenario thinking to the point of feeling completely overwhelmed.

There are degrees of anxiety and these range from mild to severe. The level of anxiety, your experience, the degree of discomfort or even pain you feel and anxiety’s negative effects on your life will determine how and when you seek help.

How you ‘got’ anxiety will also vary from person to person. You may have a genetic ‘pre-disposition’ towards it. This might lie dormant in you until it is triggered by perhaps an early childhood environment with anxious parents or even through the wear and tear of daily living. With or without your having any pre-disposition, you might find that a major trauma, disease, loss or unfortunate choices you make in life might leave you feeling unsafe and thus you may become anxious about things you would previously have been able to cope with.

There are many individual anxiety diagnoses that seek to more precisely describe an individual experience of anxiety. Most commonly agoraphobia, generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and social anxiety. There are many others. There are also specific phobias such as a fear of spiders, or heights or flying.

Untreated, anxiety, especially if has risen to moderate levels or beyond, can just continue to build, possibly into a crisis and may go on to become depression. Recovery from anxiety is very realistic and achieving this can be approached in a number of ways depending on the severity of your anxiety, where you live, what you want to change and other factors.

There are many ways you get help for anxiety, your doctor for example, or if you are living in Canterbury, NZ, you can contact us on 03 365 9479 or

Many of our staff have their own lived experience of anxiety and people find this helpful because they feel readily understood and our staff are knowledgeable about anxiety and how and where to get help.

For more detailed information about anxiety try these links:

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

We all worry. Relationships, deadlines, being on time to an appointment – you name it, there’s plenty in life to worry about. But those with GAD experience persistent, excessive and unrealistic worry that goes on every day, possibly all day. They feel it’s beyond their control and can’t be turned ‘off.’ This exaggerated, unrelenting worrying interferes with every-day living. Physical symptoms can include restlessness, irritability, muscle tension, fatigue and difficulty sleeping or concentrating.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

We all have habits, patterns and routines that help us stay clean, healthy and safe. We wash our hands before eating. We lock the doors and turn off the oven before leaving the house. Humming a favourite song while working, reading before bedtime or laying out clothes for the next day, may be comforting rituals.

But individuals suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) become hung up or stuck on seemingly senseless, irrational thoughts (obsessions), patterns and routines (compulsions).

Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia

We’ve all experienced that gut-wrenching fear when suddenly faced with a threatening or dangerous situation. Crossing the street as a car shoots out of nowhere, losing a child in the playground or hearing someone scream ‘Fire’ in a crowded theatre. The momentary panic sends chills down our spines, causes our hearts to beat wildly, our stomachs to knot and our minds to fill with terror. When the danger passes, so do the symptoms. We’re relieved that the dreaded terror didn’t happen and we move on.


Social Anxiety

Everyone can relate to feeling anxious before giving a presentation, asking someone out on a date or going on a job interview. Butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, pounding heart – all of these are normal feelings when confronting a new or intimidating social situation. But for the more than 200,000 New Zealanders who experience Social Anxiety (also known as social phobia), the intense fear of being scrutinised and negatively evaluated by others is so severe that they literally become ‘sick with fear.’ This can happen in even the most seemingly non-threatening day-to-day situations, such as ordering food in a restaurant, signing one’s name in public or making a phone call.

Though they recognise that the fear is excessive and unreasonable,…

Specific Phobia

The term “phobia” refers to a group of anxiety symptoms brought on by certain objects or situations.

A specific phobia is a lasting and unreasonable fear caused by the presence or thought of a specific object or situation that usually poses little or no actual danger. Exposure to the object or situation brings about an immediate reaction, causing the person to endure intense anxiety or to avoid the object or situation entirely. The distress associated with the phobia and/or the need to avoid the object or situation can significantly interfere with the person’s ability to function. Adults with a specific phobia recognise that the fear is excessive or unreasonable, yet are unable to overcome it.

There are…