Anxiety Symptoms & Treatment
What Is An Anxiety Disorder?
An anxiety disorder is a common mental health condition that causes someone to experience intense anxiety, fear, and worry. These feelings may be difficult to manage or stop.
It is important to recognize the difference between being anxious in response to an event, and an anxiety disorder that causes fear or distress that is out of proportion to the situation.
While everyone experiences mild periods of anxiety, people with an anxiety disorder find their lives significantly disrupted.
Symptoms Of Anxiety
Do you (or a loved one) relate to any of the following situations?
- Are you often tense or worried?
- Does your anxiety interfere with your work, school, or family responsibilities?
- Do you have fears that you know are irrational, but can’t shake?
- Do you believe that something bad will happen if certain tasks aren’t done a certain way?
- Do you avoid everyday situations or activities because they cause you anxiety?
- Do you experience sudden, unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic?
- Do you feel like danger and catastrophe are around every corner?
- Do you feel like you need to use alcohol or other substances to cope with anxiety?
If you identify with any of the above and they just won’t go away, you (or your loved one) may be suffering from anxiety.
The "feelings" associated with anxiety are often accompanied by a range of physical symptoms. These typically include:
- Increased heart rate
- Shortness of breathe
- Upset stomach
People with anxiety often have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. They may also experience hypervigilance or hypersensitivity to anxiety triggers.
Common Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders and conditions closely related to anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (or GAD) is a condition where stress and worry are excessive, persistent, and difficult to control.
- Panic Disorder, sometimes referred to as "panic attack", is indicated by an onset of intense fear or anxiety when there is no actual threat.
- Social Anxiety Disorder is often described as an intense fear of social interaction and of the judgments of other people.
- Phobias are an extreme and irrational fear, such as a fear of heights or a fear of germs.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (or OCD )is characterized by persistent, troubling thoughts that cause serious anxiety and compulsive behaviors designed to relieve that anxiety or to stop the thoughts.
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (or PTSD) is a form of extreme anxiety that can occur after a traumatic or life-threatening event. PTSD can be thought of as a panic attack that rarely lets up after someone is exposed to a traumatic event.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health illness in Canada. It is estimated that 1 in 10 Canadians is affected by them. Anxiety becomes more common with older age and is most common among middle-aged adults. This may be due to many factors including changes in the brain and nervous system as we age and being more likely to experience stressful life events as we get older.
Causes Of Anxiety Disorders
The exact causes of anxiety disorders are not clear. Experts believe it involves a combination of factors, including genes, diet, and stress.
Experts have identified several risk factors. The following are some of factors that make it more likely you will develop an anxiety disorder:
- Stress: everyone encounters stress but excessive or frequent stress can increase the chances of developing chronic anxiety.
- Genetics: if someone in your family has an anxiety disorder, you have a greater risk of developing one too. Your risk is especially high if you have a parent with anxiety.
- Personality type: some people are more prone to anxiety. Busy, high-strung people with type A personalities have a greater risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
- Trauma: Severe trauma, such as child abuse or military combat, increases your risk of developing anxiety. This can include being the victim of trauma, being close to someone who’s the victim of trauma, or witnessing something traumatic.
- Sex or gender: Women are twice as likely as men to have generalized anxiety disorder and other related conditions.
Anxiety Treatment Options
Anxiety disorders are highly treatable. Therapy, counselling, and support can help you or a loved one learn how to better manage symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Boreal Wellness Centres offers different types of anxiety therapy including individual counselling, couples counselling, family therapy and group therapy in an environment that is safe and supportive. Our therapeutic approach will help you (or your loved one) with:
- understanding the symptoms of anxiety
- identifying the sources of anxiety
- developing healthy coping strategies
- building resiliency and strength
People with anxiety disorders also benefit from imaginal and in vivo exposure therapy, which provides an opportunity to become less sensitive to situations or triggers that cause anxiety.
Let Us Help
Anxiety disorders are highly treatable and the outlook is good for anyone who receives evidence-based care. Most people can learn to manage and reduce anxiety and restore function in their lives.
We have mental health therapists available to help you (or a loved one) with anxiety and stress challenges. We offer individual anxiety counselling, couples counselling and group therapy treatment. Our Resilient LivingTM group therapy programs are a unique multi-disiciplinary approach to developing insights and building skills to managing anxiety and stress.
Resilient LivingTM Virtual Group
Our Resilient LivingTM Virtual Group Program for Anxiety and Depression is delivered using secure video conference technology, which makes it accessible to people living anywhere in British Columbia.
This program consists of 20 sessions, each 3 hours in length, over 10 weeks. The 3 hour sessions are a combination of group psychotherapy and a rotation of mindfulness, nutrition, fitness and medication education.
This Virtual Group is for people with moderate or moderate-severe depression and/or anxiety. The program uses cognitive behavioural (CBT) curriculum and includes topics such as:
- understanding how to change negative patterns of thinking
- how to avoid mind traps
- understanding and managing emotions
- importance of behavioural activation
- managing relationships