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Secondary Conditions

With early diagnosis and early intervention measures, such as education and basic cognitive skills, the secondary conditions associated to the anxiety disorders can be prevented.

Agoraphobia/Avoidance Behaviour

While not all people who develop an anxiety disorder develop agoraphobia, many people do. This in turn complicates our experience and adds to the stress and anxiety many of us feel.

In the past agoraphobia was known as the fear of open spaces or fear of the 'market place'. Now it is recognised as a fear of having a panic attack in which help or escape may be difficult or we will make a fool of ourselves or embarrass ourselves in some way.

The avoidance behaviour can be categorised in a number of ways:

1. As an overall defence against ongoing panic and anxiety. People may have 'boundaries' of where they can and can't go. Sometimes these boundaries may mean they can't leave the house or perhaps even leave one room.

2. A person may have had a panic attack or panic like symptoms in a particular situation or place and avoid going back into the situation or place for fear of having a panic attack or panic like symptoms.

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3. Anticipatory anxiety . The person may need to go into a certain situation or place but are fearful of having a panic attack or panic like symptoms. The 'what ifs' thinking creates a spiral of anxiety and they may then avoid going because of the spiral of anxiety.

4. This reason is quite obvious but not generally acknowledged. With ongoing panic attacks and anxiety many people simply do not feel well. Besides the symptoms of anxiety and panic many of us develop ongoing sinus and/or ear problems or other 'flu' type symptoms which in turn makes it more difficult for the person to go out.


Many of us have find our lives becoming increasingly restricted by our anxiety disorder and many of us do develop a major depression in reaction to their anxiety disorder. Many of us can begin to feel a loss of motivation and helplessness as a result. Medication can be of assistance in helping to break through these feelings. This in turn, can then enable us to begin a cognitive therapy program and work towards becoming medication and anxiety disorder and depression free!

Some people can begin to develop suicidal thoughts as a consequence of their anxiety disorder and/or depression. Many of us feel to ashamed or embarrassed to tell anyone about these thoughts. What we don't realise is, we have nothing to be ashamed of, or embarrassed about. These thoughts are clearly showing the levels of distress we are feeling.

If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, please speak with someone close to you and seek help immediately from either/or your doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, local mental health service, hospital, your local anxiety disorder organisation or community health centre.

In the past many people were being diagnosed as having depression, while their primary anxiety disorder remained undiagnosed and untreated.

This is still occurring in a number of individual cases. While it is important that the depression is treated, the underlying cause: the anxiety disorder also needs to be treated! If you have been diagnosed as having depression and you are concerned that your anxiety disorder has not been recognised, please speak to your doctor asap. If your doctor is not receptive to your concerns remember you can seek a second opinion.

Prescribed Drug Dependence

Tranquillisers : Many people do develop a prescribed drug dependence as a result of taking medication for their anxiety disorder. Despite the research showing the addictive nature of tranquillisers people are still being prescribed these drugs long term. Speak with your doctor and again, if your doctor is not receptive to your concerns, seek a second opinion and/or contact your local Drug and Alcohol unit. Also refer to our Medication page and our Links section which lists a number of website with information about prescribed medication.

Please note: Do not stop taking your medication. Any withdrawal from any medication, tranquillisers and anti depressants needs to be done under medical supervision.

Alcohol Dependence

As a way of trying to deal with the devastating effects of an anxiety disorder, many people turn to alcohol as a way of trying to deal with it. This of course is no solution. As Bronwyn often says "how do you know the difference between a hang-over and anxiety symptoms..". The alcohol withdrawal or hangover tends to reinforce the physical symptoms which people interpret as increasing anxiety levels. This only keeps the cycle of anxiety and panic going.

If you are using alcohol on a daily basis as a way to 'relax', please contact either your doctor or your drug/alcohol unit or Alcohol Anonymous (AA) in your city/town.

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Write to us at the following address.

Anxiety & Panic Hub
P.O. Box 516
Telephone / Fax : 0 8 8555 5012 (Aust residents)
Telephone / Fax: 61 8 8555 5012 (International )
or E-Mail us at: [email protected]
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