Seeking help for anxiety
Sometimes anxiety is so overwhelming it makes it hard to cope. If anxiety is starting to affect the way you're living your life, it's important to find help. There are lots of people who can help, and many ways to treat anxiety. The sooner you get help, the better it is for you and your recovery.
Some people may have suicidal thoughts when they are very worried and things are too hard and painful. If you feel that life is not worth living, it's really important to seek immediate help. With help, you can overcome these thoughts and stay safe.
Help is available
If your life is in danger call emergency services:
- Emergency Australia - 000
- Emergency New Zealand - 111
You are not alone. There is always someone to hear your pain and problems, and to help you keep safe.
Lifeline Counselling (24 /7)
- Lifeline Australia - 13 11 14
- Lifeline New Zealand - 0800 543 354
Men's Line Australia - 1300 78 99 78
Kids Helpline - 1800 55 1800
Suicide Call Back Service - 1300 659 467
You can also:
- talk to someone you trust
- visit a hospital emergency department
- contact your GP, a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist.
Seek help from your GP
A good first step in seeking help for anxiety is to see your general practitioner (GP). GPs treat problems like depression and anxiety all the time. They can help find the best ways to deal with how you're feeling.
A GP who is confident in treating mental health issues has lots of good resources and strategies for overcoming anxiety. Your GP can:
- listen to your concerns
- check for any other health issues
- talk to you about types of treatment
- prescribe medication
- suggest lifestyle changes
- refer you to professionals specially trained in mental health, such as counsellors, psychiatrists and psychologists.
Your GP can prepare a Mental Health Treatment Plan, and discuss whether you might be able to get a Medicare rebate for psychological treatments.
If you don't feel comfortable talking to your own GP, find another one. It's really important that you feel OK about talking about how you're feeling with your GP.
If you're having trouble finding a good GP:
- try calling some other general practices near you and ask whether any doctors there have a strong interest in mental health
- check out the beyondblue national listing of health practitioners with an interest in treating anxiety.
Other professionals who can help you
Psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors are specially trained to provide help for anxiety and other mental health problems. You need to get a referral from your GP to see a psychiatrist or a psychologist.
Some social workers, occupational therapists, mental health nurses, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers are also trained in mental health.
You can find more information about mental health professionals on our seeking help for depression page.
When you see a mental health professional, you should expect a number of things, including:
- confidentiality, empathy and understanding
- sufficient time to express your thoughts and feelings
- a thorough assessment of your mental health
- if the diagnosis is clear, you should be told whether you have anxiety or another mental health condition
- a management strategy.
If more than one mental health professional is involved in giving you treatment, there should be clear lines of responsibility for each professional.
For more information about what to expect from a health professional go to our seeking help for depression page.
Our Psychology Clinic offers psychological services for a range of mental illnesses including anxiety.
myCompass is a free online self-help program that has been proven to relieve symptoms in people experiencing mild-to-moderate anxiety and depression. myCompass was developed by us here at the Black Dog Institute and is based on a range of psychological therapies.
Relationships Australia provides an online counselling service for relationship problems (in addition to its face-to-face counselling services). The online service allows you to 'chat' privately and securely with an online counsellor. Online counsellors are qualified and experienced employees of Relationships Australia NSW.
Free or low cost counselling may be available through universities, community centres, charities, and religious organisations.
Macquarie University's Centre for Emotional Health Clinic in North Ryde offers programs for anxiety disorders for children, adolescents and adults. They mostly offer group programs, however private sessions with clinicians and some self-help/home-based treatments are available. They also offer free online courses for anxiety and depression.
e-Mental health tools are useful psychological therapies that you can use online. All you need is access to a computer, tablet or a smart phone.
Research indicates that evidence-based e-mental health tools are just as effective as face-to-face treatments for mild-to-moderate anxiety.
Many e-mental health tools are self-paced, and you can also use them with the support of a mental health professional. You can use e-mental health tools from home, making them helpful for people who live in rural and remote areas, or people with limited mobility or transport.
Head to our self-help tools and apps page to find the e-mental health tool that's right for you.
Health professionals and e-mental health tools
Some health professionals use e-mental health tools:
- to encourage their patients to use e-mental health tools in between face-to-face visits
- to monitor mood improvement
- to see which treatment modules are effective
- as a catalyst for discussion.
You can read more about e-mental health tools in our fact sheet e-Mental health & depressionMany more links are provided.
Doctors can read our fact sheet on e-mental health.
The e-mental health programs we recommended have been researched, developed and tested in Australia.
Recommended e-mental health tools
myCompass A free online self-help program developed by the Black Dog Institute. myCompass is easily accessible on your mobile phone, tablet or computer and has been proven to relieve symptoms in people experiencing mild-to-moderate anxiety and depression.
This Way Up A not-for-profit initiative, jointly designed and developed by Professor Gavin Andrews and his team of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. A small registration fee is required.
MoodGYM MoodGYM is a free self-help program to teach cognitive behavioural therapy (or CBT) skills to people vulnerable to depression and anxiety.
OnTrack OnTrack offers free access to online programs, information, quizzes and advice to support the Australian community in achieving mental and physical health and wellbeing.
Mindhealthconnect.org.au has more information on e-mental health programs and support services.
Some resources for young people include:
BITE BACK Developed by Black Dog Institute, BITE BACK is an ever-changing space which aims to improve the wellbeing and mental fitness of 12-18 year olds, based on the principles of positive psychology.
eHeadspace eHeadspace is a confidential, free, anonymous, secure space where 15-25 year olds can chat, email or speak with qualified youth mental health professionals.
ReachOut ReachOut is a mental health website for people under 25.
Youthbeyondblue Youthbeyondblue provides mental health education and links to phone support for 12-25 year olds.
Practitioner resources for anxiety
Generalised anxiety disorder websites
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) websites
Social anxiety disorder websites
Panic disorder websites