Anxiety is a common sensation people feel when stressed or worried, which usually passes when the perceived threat or stressor has passed. This instinct is important to keep us safe from danger or harm, however, sometimes those feelings of worry or stress persist, and can be associated with particular triggers or without any apparent reason. Over time they can impact on a person’s ability to work, socialise, or cope with day-to-day activities. This might be a sign of one of many types of anxiety-related disorders.
Importance for PLHIV50+
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health conditions in Australia, affecting 2 million Australians per year. Approximately 25% of people will experience anxiety in their lifetime. People living with HIV (PLHIV) also commonly experience anxiety, which may worsen around times of significant stress or illness. However, the diagnosis of anxiety in PLHIV can be difficult, particularly if it coincides with substance use or other mental health conditions. Similarly, anxiety disorders can be challenging to diagnose in older people, but occur commonly.
People with anxiety might experience feeling worried, scared or ‘on edge’ for most of the time. They might describe poor concentration, or forgetfulness, feel overwhelmed, and have trouble sleeping. Some people have physical symptoms, like panic attacks, tremors or shakes, palpitations or a racing heartbeat, sweating or restlessness. Nausea, vomiting, or a churning stomach, and tingling in the fingers or lips are also possible. Some organisations have online surveys for anxiety that might be useful.
How to seek help
If you think you or someone you know might be suffering from anxiety, it is important to seek help. There are different treatments and services available, which can be tailored to a person’s needs and circumstances, and help them to recover. Some people benefit from a combination of psychological, and medical treatments.
You can find some additional helpful strategies here.