Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal part of life and can even be useful when it alerts us to danger. But for some, symptoms of anxiety are persistent and severe, interfering with daily activities such as work, school and sleep. This type of anxiety can disrupt relationships and enjoyment of life, and can lead to health concerns and other problems over time. In some cases, anxiety is a diagnosable mental health condition requiring treatment.

The six main categories of anxiety disorders are:

  1. Phobias
  2. Panic disorder
  3. Generalized anxiety disorder
  4. Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  5. Acute stress disorder
  6. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder but common anxiety symptoms include:

  • Feeling apprehensive and tense
  • Experiencing irrational and excessive fear
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • An increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling

Causes / Physiology

The exact cause of anxiety disorders isn't fully understood, but research suggests they may be caused by a combination of biological and psychological factors. Other possible factors: challenging life experiences, such as traumatic or stressful events, a family history of anxiety disorders and substance abuse or withdrawal.

Treatments

Psychological treatments such as relaxation training, meditation and stress management can help with anxiety disorders. The most effective form of treatment for anxiety disorders is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Medications have also been proven effective, and many people receive CBT and medication together.

Related Links

Canadian Mental Health Association: www.cmha.ca