Anxiety disorders comprise the most common mental health condition, and are characterized by excessive, uncontrollable uncertainty and fearfulness, avoidance behaviours, and heightened physiological symptoms which may include increased heart rate, sweating, shaking and panic attacks.
Though everyone experiences mild periods of anxiety, those who are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder find that their lives are significantly disrupted due to a crippling fear that can manifest along with physical symptoms. Individuals with anxiety disorders often have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or early-morning awakening. They also experience heightened physiological responses, including hypervigilance and hypersensitivity to anxiety triggers.
Anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
Anxiety disorders are highly treatable. Intensive treatment that includes a range of evidence-based cognitive and behavioural therapies, incorporation of regular exercise, and dietary/nutritional changes, along with medication treatment (if appropriate) can help patients to learn how to better manage symptoms and improve the overall quality of their lives. Individuals with anxiety disorders also benefit from imaginal and in vivo exposure therapy, which provides patients with an opportunity to de-sensitize themselves to situations or triggers that induce anxiety, in an environment that is safe and supportive. Relaxation, breathing and mindfulness/meditation approaches are also tremendously beneficial in effectively treating anxiety disorders.