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Eight potential signs that you may have an anxiety disorder

Sindisiwe Mlotshwa, a psychologist who practises at Akeso Parktown, has provided some tell-tale signs of anxiety. Here’s what you need to know.


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An anxiety disorder can be crippling and if you think you’ve never experienced it before then count yourself lucky.

Sindisiwe Mlotshwa, a counselling psychologist who practises at Akeso Parktown in Johannesburg, says that anxiety typically consists of physical, emotional and mental reactions, and in moderation, these reactions are quite normal and may even be helpful.

“In small doses, anxiety can help protect us from danger and help focus our attention when tasks need to be completed. However, when these reactions occur too frequently and are more severe, they can begin to affect our work performance, relationships and quality of life,” Mlotshwa said. 


Mlotshwa said that if your anxious experiences are becoming intolerable, then there are certain signs you should take note of which include:

  1. Uncontrollable worry;
  2. Excessive nervousness;
  3. Sleep problems;
  4. Muscle tension;
  5. Poor concentration;
  6. Increased heart rate; 
  7. Upset stomach; and 
  8. Avoidance of situations that may cause fear, or the fear itself.  


Mlotshwa, in an Akeso Parktown statement that was shared by Netcare 911, said the feeling can sometimes be helpful but it’s good to know when it’s way past that point. 

“For example, if a person has anxiety about driving in traffic, this may be helpful if it promotes more cautious driving behaviour. If anxiety is making you so cautious that you are a danger to other drivers by driving too slow, fast or indecisively for instance, or if you avoid driving at all, then the anxiety has become a problem. If the person’s anxiety leads them to stop going to work or visiting friends and family because they do not want to travel in a vehicle, then the anxiety is disrupting their life. It would suggest the possibility of an anxiety disorder, which may require professional mental health support to overcome,” she said. 

Mlotshwa says there are multiple types of anxiety disorders, including social anxieties or social phobia, separation anxieties and panic attacks.

“Fortunately, professional help is available and there are various ways of treating and navigating anxiety, which may be useful either on their own or in combination,” she said. 


According to Mlotshwa, exercise can be very helpful, as it promotes the healthy production of serotonin and endorphins to help regulate anxious feelings. 

“Exercise is often recommended in conjunction with other interventions, such as psychotherapy or medication prescribed by a psychiatrist.”

Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and mindful sensory engagements can also assist in managing the symptoms of anxiety. 

“Anxiety disorders can be devastating, but the good news is that help is available. It is possible to overcome anxiety and reclaim your life,” she said.  


Well, help is just one call or email away. In the event of a psychological crisis, emergency support can be reached on 0861-435-787, 24 hours a day. If you need information about mental health services, accessing care, information about mental health issues, or are in an emotional crisis, Akeso is here to help. Akeso is a group of private in-patient mental health facilities, and is part of the Netcare group. 

You can contact them on; visit; or book psychologist and occupational therapist consultations via and psychiatrist consultations through Netcare appointmed, online at or by calling 0861-555-565. The COPE Therapy website also contains many useful blog posts on various issues and tips relating to mental health.