There was a time when making a cup of tea was the only moment of solace Simone Ancilleri could find away from her anxiety.
"I started with a cup of tea being the only thing - when I'm making that cup of tea, I'm OK in that 10 minutes - to now running a support group and exercising," she said.
Ms Ancilleri is one of hundreds of Canberrans living with anxiety. New figures published on Thursday show anxiety disorders affect the ACT's population more than that of any other state or territory.
When Ms Ancilleri moved to Canberra from Sydney four years ago, she looked for an anxiety support group that held meetings similar to ones she attended in Sydney's inner west.
At the time, Ms Ancilleri knew she was struggling with her mental health.
"My anxiety was quite bad and I was kind of navigating issues with medication and coming off it, because I had some really bad side effects," she said.
But Ms Ancilleri couldn't find anything in the ACT or nearby, so she started her own group.
"I was just shocked because Canberra is such an academic town and everyone is so career-driven and focused," she said.
The latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report shows the ACT has one of the highest burdens of mental health illnesses in the country, and the highest burden of anxiety.
The report showed anxiety disorders make up 5.1 per cent of the territory's leading causes of disease burden - behind only coronary heart disease.
Anxiety accounted for 8.4 years of healthy life lost per 1000 people in the ACT.
Victoria was the state in which anxiety caused the next biggest burden, with 7.2 years of healthy life lost per 1000 people. It made up 3.1 per cent of Victoria's disease burden.
Anxiety disorders rose to fourth place on the list of contributors to national disease burden, up from sixth place in 2003.
But the number of healthy years lost per 1000 people has remained steady at 6.4.
The five diseases that had the greatest burden on the ACT were coronary heart disease, anxiety, back pain and problems, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.
It was good news for the ACT when it came to the leading causes of fatal burden nationally.
ACT people were the least likely to die from cancer, cardiovascular diseases and injuries.
Ms Ancilleri said she had decided to be open about her struggles with anxiety and depression, despite the risk of blow back from employers.
"Talking about anxiety, you might be helping someone you don't even know. You could be my friend and see my post on Facebook and then be like, 'Yeah, you know what, I've got to do something about my anxiety. I'm just going to go and see my GP'," she said.
On the third Saturday of every month, Ms Ancilleri meets with other people to talk about their experiences with anxiety at the Karabar Community Centre. She said it was an opportunity for people to see they were not alone.
While there isn't a catch-all cure, Ms Ancilleri said people had to learn to co-exist with their anxiety in whatever ways they could.
"I still have anxiety. ... I'm trying to work towards becoming an observer with my anxiety and accepting that mental health issues are a daily thing that you have to work on.
"There's no finish line with mental health," she said.
- with Daniella White