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HealthInfo Canterbury

Living with anxiety

If you have been diagnosed with anxiety, there are many things you can do and people who can help you. Try some of the suggestions below.

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What can I do?

How do I support a friend or family member who has an anxiety disorder?

Who can help me with anxiety?

What can I do?

There are many things you can do to help get your anxiety under control and feel better. As with any illness, the sooner you get help, the sooner you will get better.

See your general practice team and talk to your GP or practice nurse about how you are feeling. They can talk about treatment options with you.

Learn more about anxiety

Learn about what causes anxiety, how it affects people and the different treatments that are available. Understanding the illness and seeing how it can be treated can help you feel more able to cope and less alone with the problem. These two resources are helpful:

Stay healthy

Read about Physical health with a mental illness or addiction. It will help if you eat healthy foods, avoid too much coffee and alcohol, and quit smoking. Exercise reduces the symptoms of anxiety, and it doesn't have to be high-intensity. Talk to your GP or practice nurse about getting a Green Prescription.

Learn how to relax

Most people who suffer from anxiety aren't aware that the way they breathe and hold their muscles is probably reinforcing their feelings of panic and fear. Try these relaxation exercises to help you feel less anxious, by retraining your muscles and your breathing.

You also borrow relaxation tapes and music from your library or contact MHERC, or use the online guided meditation from CALM Auckland. You may also want to consider a Yoga or meditation class.

Try online therapy

These are free resources which can help you to understand anxiety better, and can also offer treatment. You'll find some excellent online therapies on the anxiety disorder treatments page.

Get support

Use a free phone service. These services will be able to talk to you about your day-to-day struggles, or help you if you have a crisis.

You could also join a support group in Canterbury.

Help yourself to stay well

Getting better can take time. You will need to make lots of small, and big, changes to your life, and then maintain them to stay well. The Australian website Beyond Blue has some tips for changes you can make in your life and how to maintain them.

This video from the NHS in the UK describes ways you can catch and change unhelpful thoughts to improve your mental health and wellbeing.

How do I support a friend or family member who has an anxiety disorder?

If you are caring for someone who has an anxiety disorder, you might like to join Caring for the Carers, which is a community group for family members looking after someone with a physical or mental illness or a disability.

When someone has an anxiety disorder they might find being a parent particularly challenging. The whole family could benefit by using some of the resources and contacting the support groups listed on Children of parents with a mental illness or addiction.

Who can help me with anxiety?

These people and organisations may be involved in your (or a family member's or friend's) healthcare.

General practice team

If you need to find a GP, you can search on this map.

Community support groups

In Canterbury, you can find a support group by contacting one of the following groups:

Counsellor or therapist


Learning how to breath and relax properly can be very helpful. Some physiotherapist in Canterbury have specialist skills in managing anxiety and breathing issues. Check with your physiotherapist if they do.

Mental Health Education and Resource Centre (MHERC)

The Canterbury Mental Health Education and Resource Centre Trust (MHERC) provides information, education, and support within Canterbury to people with mental health and addiction issues, their families and whānau, caregivers, and associates, agencies, and the community.

Canterbury DHB Specialist Mental Health Services (including the Anxiety Disorders Outpatient Unit)

Canterbury DHB's Specialist Mental Health Service is the major provider of mental health services in Canterbury. You will need a referral from your GP to access this service, which is for people with severe anxiety problems.

Read more about the Anxiety Disorders Team.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Anxiety disorder treatments

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed March 2018. Last updated August 2019.

See also:

Medications for mental health issues

Preparing for your doctor's visit

Reading in Mind book scheme

Page reference: 50597

Review key: HIAXA-50595