Anxiety - young person

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal response to the challenges we face on a day-to-day basis. Anxiety is our body’s smoke alarm system to keep us safe from danger. When you have a food allergy, your alarm system can be more sensitive because you’re living with a potentially life-threatening condition. Like a smoke alarm it can be helpful. For example, when you have a food allergy some level of anxiety can help motivate you to check food labels and remember to bring your adrenline (epinephrine) injector (such as EpiPen®, Anapen®) with you!

Unfortunately, smoke alarms sometimes also go off when you have burnt toast. So it’s important to recognise a false alarm when it comes to anxiety!

So how do we recognise when our smoke alarm has gone off? The tricky thing about allergy and anxiety is that they can feel very similar.

Allergy vs Anxiety

Anxiety Levels

Signs of when anxiety is getting unhelpful:


  • Worried thoughts that are hard to shake off
  • Unpleasant/distressing thoughts or images
  • Stressful memories


  • Loss of confidence/feeling low
  • Stress
  • Panic


  • Not going out
  • Troubles with eating food (even safe foods)
  • Spending lots of time checking
  • Not doing the things you want to do or need to do

Spot the unhelpful anxiety!

Going to a restaurant and double checking your order with the waiter - helpful 

Checking your school bag to make sure you have your EpiPen® or Anapen ® on you before you leave the house - helpful 

A friend asks you out to a restaurant you haven’t been and you say ‘No’ in case they get your order wrong - unhelpful 

Sleeping over at a friend’s place and choosing not to bring your EpiPen® or Anapen® in case they judge you - unhelpful 

You’re dating someone new and purposely don’t tell them you have an allergy because you’re worried about what they’ll think - unhelpful 

A handy exercise to tackle anxiety!

A great way to press pause on anxiety is to focus our attention away from anxiety. We can use our senses to help us do this! Try the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise:

Handy Exercise

This is a skill that takes practise, so try to find a moment each day to practise.


If you notice that you can relate to some of the signs of anxiety, it can be helpful to reach out and get support. About 1 in 7 young people in Australia will experience anxiety at high levels, so needing help is a common!


Talking to your friendly neighbourhood psychologist can be a great place to get help! This could be your school counsellor, or you could see a psychologist by getting a referral from a GP.

A great way to find a psychologist is through:

  2. Or giving your local Headspace a call/message:

If you prefer to chat online, here are some websites where you can chat to a professional online:


Kids Helpline:

These are also some awesome organisations that can help:

Great Apps

pdfWhat is Anxiety - Young person528.34 KB

Developed by the Adolescent Medicine Team at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, NSW Australia in collaboration with Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia

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If you are having an allergic reaction follow advice on your ASCIA Action Plan.

If in doubt, give the Anapen® or EpiPen®.

Do not call us for emergency advice.

If you do not have an ASCIA Action Plan and/or an Anapen® or EpiPen® call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.