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Potential sources of anxiety

There are many experiences in our lives that can contribute to anxiety.

Some of these are more likely at certain times of our lives – for example, when we finish school, become a parent, or retire from work – whereas others can occur at any time.

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Some examples of events that can contribute to anxiety include:


  • not being able to buy food, school uniforms or pay bills
  • going into debt
  • being unemployed, or having a partner or family member who is unemployed
  • starting a new job
  • conditions at your place of work (eg, tight deadlines, being short-staffed, long hours)
  • dealing with Centrelink or other government services
  • moving home, including downsizing
  • not having a place to live
  • retiring from work, or having a partner who is retiring.
Woman having headache at computer


  • leaving secondary school
  • studying in further education or university
  • leaving your children at childcare
  • having children who are starting kindergarten, primary school, or secondary school
  • returning to study as a mature-aged student.

Partner and family

  • being pregnant
  • becoming a parent for the first time
  • having trouble becoming pregnant
  • sexual difficulties
  • separation or divorce
  • child custody disputes with your former partner
  • adult children moving out of home
  • placing a parent or relative in aged care or other forms of care
  • having a family member in prison
  • the death of a family member
  • the death of a pet.


  • being injured
  • having minor or major surgery
  • having a short-term illness
  • living with a chronic illness or chronic pain
  • having a family member with a mental health problem.
Upset confused woman holding mobile phone

Experiences of trauma

These are distressing or upsetting events or experiences that lead to an emotional response, for example:

  • abuse or maltreatment you experienced during your childhood
  • being abused by a current or former partner
  • being in an accident
  • experiencing a natural disaster, such as a bushfire or flood
  • having fled your country of birth due to war or civil unrest.

Experiences of discrimination

That is, unfairness, bias, or prejudice:

  • at work
  • at school
  • at the local sports club
  • in your local community
  • in other life situations.

Experiences of bullying, being left out, or aggression:

  • at school
  • at work
  • on the internet
  • in other situations in your life.
Young mother juggling work and child care

Women’s roles

As women, at different times in our lives we can have roles with different demands that may trigger anxiety; for example, being a mother while also having to look after housework and do paid work. We may care not only for our own children and partner, but for other family members as well, such as parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles.

It can be hard to fulfil these roles and take care of ourselves too.

How we are brought up

As girls, when we are growing up, we are often taught that we need to be perfect and to put other people’s needs before our own. We may then learn to ‘bottle up’ our feelings, rather than talk about them or express them.

Over time, keeping our feelings inside can be a source of anxiety.

What you can do

If you think you are experiencing anxiety, there are steps you can take to help manage it. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve had anxiety, it’s never too late to do something about it. Help is available.

These pages include the sections below to help you to do something about anxiety:

  1. Ways we can nurture ourselves;
  2. E-programs for managing anxiety;
  3. How to seek help from a health professional.
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Thanks to support from Liptember.

Last updated: 20 August 2021 | Last reviewed: 29 February 2020

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