January 24, 2023

What is Anxiety and What Can You Do About It?

Anxiety is a normal emotional response to stress and can be beneficial in certain situations. However, excessive, or chronic anxiety can be debilitating and interfere with daily functioning. Identifying anxiety can be challenging as symptoms can vary from person to person and may be caused by different factors. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the United States and Canada.

What are some common physical symptoms of anxiety?

Some common physical symptoms of anxiety include:

  1. Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  2. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  3. Sweating, trembling or shaking
  4. Nausea or stomach discomfort
  5. Fatigue or muscle tension
  6. Difficulty sleeping or insomnia

What are some common emotional symptoms of anxiety?

Emotional symptoms of anxiety include:

  1. Feeling fearful, tense, or apprehensive
  2. Having a sense of impending danger or doom
  3. Feeling irritable or restless
  4. Difficulty concentrating or feeling like your mind is going blank
  5. Having a sense of detachment from oneself or reality
  6. Feeling like one is going crazy

What are some common behavioural symptoms of anxiety?

Behavioural symptoms of anxiety include:

  1. Avoiding certain situations or activities
  2. Having difficulty relaxing
  3. Being easily startled
  4. Having difficulty concentrating
  5. Being easily fatigued
  6. Having difficulty sleeping

Are there different forms of anxiety?

Anxiety can also manifest itself in different forms of disorders such as 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 is 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 of 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.

What are 5 techniques that can be used to help combat or ease anxiety?

  1. Identify and challenge negative thoughts: Anxiety often involves repetitive, negative thoughts. Challenge these thoughts by asking yourself if they are really true, and if not, what evidence do you have to support them.
  2. Learn relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and yoga can help reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety.
  3. Get regular exercise: Physical activity can help reduce anxiety by releasing endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers.
  4. Connect with others: Talking to friends and family, joining a support group, or seeing a therapist can help provide support and perspective.
  5. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of being 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.

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.

What is CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and how can it help anxiety?

Cognitive Behavioural 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:

  1. Education: The therapist will provide information about anxiety and its causes, as well as the principles of CBT.
  2. Identification of negative thoughts: The therapist will help the individual identify negative thoughts and beliefs related to their anxiety.
  3. Challenge negative thoughts: The therapist will help the individual challenge the negative thoughts and beliefs and replace them with more balanced and realistic ones.
  4. 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.
  5. Relaxation techniques: The therapist will teach the individual techniques to help them relax, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.
  6. 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.

CBT has been found to be an effective treatment for anxiety disorders. It has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and improve quality of life. Additionally, the benefits of CBT can be maintained over time, and it is less likely to relapse when compared with other treatments, including medication.

It's important to note that CBT is not a "quick fix" and typically requires a commitment of 8 to 20 sessions, it's important to work with a trained CBT therapist that can guide you through the process. Also, CBT is not the only treatment option for anxiety, some people may 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 and we even have a Child & Adolescent Program.

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

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