What does anxiety feel like for you?

While anxiety is usually a natural and short-lived reaction to a stressful situation, for some people anxious thoughts, feelings, or physical symptoms can become chronic, severe and upsetting, and interrupt daily life. Severe, frequent, recurring, and persistent anxiety symptoms may be considered an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental health disorder diagnosed in Australia affecting around 14% of Australians every year.

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 What are the symptoms of anxiety?

Anxiety is characterized by
  • uneasiness
  • apprehension
  • fear or terror
  • sadness 
  • panic
  • worry
  • dread and/or
  • uncertainty.

Physical symptoms of anxiety which often escort the feelings of anxiousness including
  • insomnia
  • crying
  • jitters
  • fear
  • shortness of breath
  • sweating
  • heart palpitations or rapid heart rate
  • decreased sex drive
  • diarrhoea
  • chest pain and/or
  • nausea.

Anxiety can turn into a larger health problem once the symptoms persist and become excessive, when symptoms interfere with regular activities of daily life, or cause emotional stress.

There are different types of anxiety disorders:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent and excessive worry, often about daily situations like work, family or health. This worry is difficult to control and interferes with the person’s day-to-day life and relationships. Specific phobia involves extreme anxiety and fear of particular objects or situations. Common phobias include fear of flying, fear of spiders and other animals, and fear of injections.

  • Panic disorder is characterized by the experience of repeated and unexpected panic attacks – sudden surges of overwhelming fear and anxiety accompanied by physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, dizziness and breathlessness. In panic disorder, these panic attacks come ‘out of the blue’ with no apparent trigger. 

  • Agoraphobia involves intense anxiety in situations and places where the person feels it would be difficult for them to get out quickly or get help if needed. This includes situations such as using public transport, being in a lift or a cinema, standing in a queue, being in a crowd, or being outside of the home alone.

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) presents in people as recurring, persistent and distressing thoughts, images or impulses known as obsessions (a fear of catching germs), or feeling compelled to carry out certain repetitive behaviours, rituals or mental acts, known as compulsions (handwashing). Some people with OCD have both obsessions and compulsions. These thoughts and behaviours can take over a person's life and, while people with OCD usually know that their obsessions and compulsions are an overreaction, they feel they are unable to stop them. 

  • Social anxiety disorder is characterized by severe anxiety about being criticized or viewed negatively by others. This leads the person to avoid social events and other social situations for fear of doing something that leads to embarrassment or humiliation.

 Does anxiety affect men and women differently?

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The answer is yes and this is mainly due to how men were taught to 'handle' or 'hide' their feelings when they were young boys and growing up.  Women have been able to express their feelings better, for  example little girls were allowed to cry and also talk to their friends about their feelings and are more open to discussing what is going in their lives. Men tend to keep to themselves and withdraw from family, friends and social gatherings.

While many of the differences between anxious men and women seem to stem from social pressures, research suggests that there are biological differences as well.

  • Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, could determine how a person reacts to stress, and might cycle more quickly through the male brain. This would mean that women need more time to manage anxious reactions.
  • Many women are highly affected by low levels of a stress hormone, CRF, which is part of the HPA-axis and this may make them more susceptible to anxiety disorders.

  • Female hormones, like estrogen, cause the fight-or-flight response to become engaged more quickly, and longer, in women than in men.

  • Perimenopause can cause symptoms of anxiety to flare up and are often worse than when you were younger. This is once again due to oestrogen being high and progestrone (which is our calming hormone) being low.

The target of anxiety is often different for men and women. Anxious women are more likely to worry about social relationships and money, while anxious men are more likely to worry about job performance and stability.

Foods and drinks that can affect anxiety levels?

You are what you eat and drink especially when your stressed or anxious and there are some foods and drinks that will trigger an anxiety attack or increase the feelings of anxiety.

  • Coffee and energy drinks - these can increase your symptoms such as heart palpitations, insomnia, increased heart rate etc.
  • Alcohol - can reduce the feelings of anxiety but too much can make the symptoms worse.
  • Sugary foods - sugar isn't your friend when you are feeling anxious as it can give you the false feeling of feeling better and then you hit that slump again and generally will feel worse than before eating or drinking the sugary treat.
  • Bad carbohydrates - those generally found in a box or prepackaged foods - the frozen microwave foods, biscuits/cakes, bread and pizzas etc.

What foods and drinks to include to reduce your anxiety

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  • Fresh whole foods - these will support your nervous system and digestive health. Foods that contain anti-inflammatory properties - fruits and veggies, legumes along with foods that are high in antioxidants - think berries and eating the colours of the rainbow.
  • Good fats and oils - wild caught salmon, avocado, nut butter or oils, cold pressed organic olive oil, organic butter.
  • Herbal teas including green tea.
  • Filtred water - it's important to keep hydrated.


Anxiety can be treated naturally both with lifestyle recommendations, dietary changes along with adding some important supplements into your prescription and a herbal formula that is specific to your health needs.

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I have seen an increase in women, men and children suffering from anxiety over the past few years. There certainly has been an increase due to the 'unknown' and the uncertainty of what will our 2022 be like? 

I have online consultations and/or in clinic consultations that are available. All you need to do is book online via my website booking link.



Yours in health and wellness,



Katrina xxx

katrina froome naturopathy, brisbane naturopath, australia naturopath

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