January 24, 2023

Understanding Anxiety

It’s completely normal to feel anxious, but it all depends on the intensity and duration to determine whether or not you would need the help of a mental health professional. But while anxiety is generally a normal emotional response to stress, feeling excessively or chronically anxious can actually be debilitating, and it may even hinder you from functioning normally in your everyday life.  

It could be all the more difficult for you when the people around you seem to be invalidating and dismissive of your concerns, so see to it that you equip yourself with the right knowledge on anxiety; specifically, how it’s diagnosed, managed, and treated. If you have suspicions, you can identify some symptoms of anxiety so that you can get the treatment you need. A proper diagnosis is also essential, because anxiety has different factors, and requires different types of treatments.  

Meanwhile, below are some of the anxiety symptoms you should look out for:

Common physical symptoms of anxiety

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Sweating, trembling or shaking
  • Nausea or stomach discomfort
  • Fatigue or muscle tension
  • Difficulty sleeping or insomnia

Common emotional symptoms of anxiety

  • Feeling fearful, tense, or apprehensive
  • Having a sense of impending danger or doom
  • Feeling irritable or restless
  • Difficulty concentrating or feeling like your mind is going blank
  • Having a sense of detachment from oneself or reality
  • Feeling like one is going crazy

Common behavioural symptoms of anxiety

  • Avoiding certain situations or activities
  • Having difficulty relaxing
  • Being easily startled
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Having difficulty sleeping

What are the different forms of anxiety?

Anxiety can also manifest itself in different forms of disorders. Among these are Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Specific Phobia, and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive and unrealistic worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke the anxiety. Individuals with GAD often have difficulty controlling worry, and it can interfere with daily functioning.
  • Panic Disorder is characterized by sudden and unexpected panic attacks, which are episodes of intense fear or discomfort that peak within approximately 10 minutes. Panic attacks are often accompanied by physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is characterized by excessive and persistent fear of social or performance situations. The individual may worry about behaving in a way that will be embarrassing or humiliating or may fear being judged or rejected.
  • Specific Phobia is an excessive or unrealistic fear of a specific object or situation, such as heights, flying, or animals. The individual will go to great lengths to avoid the object or situation and the fear can interfere with daily functioning.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is characterized by the development of symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, and avoidance behaviours following a traumatic event. The individual may also experience feelings of guilt, shame, or anger.

It’s important to note that these are just some examples of the different types of anxiety disorders and not everyone who experiences anxiety will have all these symptoms, nor will they all have a diagnosable disorder. It is important to seek professional help to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.  

A mental health professional, such as a psychologist, therapist or psychiatrist, can help determine if an individual's symptoms are indicative of an anxiety disorder and develop a treatment plan tailored to their specific needs. In the meantime, there are techniques that can be used to manage when your anxiety attacks.

Read More: How to Tell the Difference Between Shyness and Social Anxiety

What is Anxiety?

5 Techniques That Can Be Used to Help Combat/Ease Anxiety

  • Identify and challenge negative thoughts: Anxiety often involves repetitive, negative thoughts. You can challenge these by asking yourself if they’re grounded in reality, and if not, what evidence do you have to support them.
  • Learn relaxation techniques: Some techniques you can start practising include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and yoga in order to help reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety.
  • Get regular exercise: Intensive physical activity can also help reduce anxiety. When you exercise, endorphins are released, which are brain chemicals that act as natural painkillers.
  • Connect with others: Sometimes, you just need to vent to release that anxiety you’ve been holding on to for a long time. Talking to friends and family, joining a support group, or seeing a therapist can help provide support and perspective to you.
  • Practise mindfulness: Your mood can change drastically for the better if you’re present in the moment and focusing on your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Mindfulness-based therapies are a great addition to CBT and can help reduce symptoms of anxiety.

Read More:

The Healing Power of Music Therapy

The Benefits of Yoga and Meditation for Anxiety

Can Anxiety Trigger Burnout?

Anxiety can trigger burnout when it becomes overwhelming and chronic. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. It’s helpful to consult with a trusted and reliable therapist so as to target anxiety-induced burnouts effectively. Meanwhile, as far as treatment methods go, the generally most widely used approach in psychotherapy is CBT or cognitive behaviour therapy.

How Can CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) Help with Anxiety Management?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. The goal of CBT is to help individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to their symptoms.

CBT for anxiety typically includes the following components:

  • Psychoeducation: The therapist will provide vital pieces of information about anxiety and its causes to the clients, as well as the principles of CBT to break down the steps on how it will help the client with their journey.
  • Identification of negative thoughts: The therapist will help the individual identify negative thoughts and beliefs related to their anxiety.
  • Challenging negative thoughts: The therapist will help the individual challenge the negative thoughts and beliefs and replace them with more balanced and realistic ones.
  • Exposure therapy: This involves gradually exposing the individual to the situations or objects they fear in a controlled and safe environment. This can help to reduce the fear associated with these situations or objects.
  • Relaxation techniques: The therapist will teach the individual techniques to help them relax, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness-based CBT uses strategies to help the individual focus on the present moment and develop an awareness of their thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations.

Shown to reduce most symptoms of anxiety and improve quality of life, CBT has been found to be an effective treatment for anxiety disorders. As shown in the said study, the benefits of CBT can be maintained over time, and clients are less likely to relapse when compared with other cases using a different type of treatment, including the use of medication.

For clients, it must be emphasized that CBT isn’t a "quick fix", as it typically requires a commitment of 8 to 20 sessions. See to it that you’re working with a highly trained and certified CBT therapist to guide you through the process and work towards better anxiety management. You must also note that CBT is not the only treatment option for anxiety, as some people benefit from medication, other forms of therapy, or a combination of both.

How Can Archways Help You with Your Anxiety?

Archways offers an Anxiety and Mood Clinic where we work with clients using strategies grounded in cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) to help them get well and stay well. We work with adults up to approximately 70 years of age. We also have a Child & Adolescent Program for those who are under 18.

For more information on this clinic, visit our website or give us a call to see if Archways is the right fit for you.

Read More: Coping with Depression, and How to Calm Anxiety During the Holidays