Anxiety can be helpful or harmful. Anxiety is supposed to be a normal and natural response to stress, like being chased by a bear. Or occasionally worrying about something important, like you're alarm waking you up to make an early morning flight. An anxiety disorder, on the other hand, can seriously impact your life. Anxiety can affect how you feel, how you act and how you think.
Fortunately, anxiety disorders can be treated and effectively managed with counseling, art therapy, meditation and in many cases, without medication. We are here to help you in any way we can.
About Anxiety Disorders
Panic Attacks/ Panic Anxiety Attacks
A panic attack can be very intense. It comes on suddenly and typically lasts for a short period of time. You may experience a racing heart beat, difficulty breathing, nausea and other physical effects. Panic attacks can be a common response to extreme stress, especially emotional stress. It becomes a disorder, when it happens repeatedly and for no apparent reason.
Social Anxiety Disorder
There's shyness and then there's social anxiety disorder. Its experiencing intense fear of being negatively evaluated by others, criticized or embarrassed. People who experience this will often avoid social situations. It can have a huge effect on their work and/or school performance as well as on their relationships.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
It's perfectly normal to worry a bit, but not if it's constant. Excessive worry about everyday problems for a period of more than six months excessive. The level of anxiety is usually far greater than it should be in relation to the concern. Many people will experience physical symptoms such as tension, headaches and difficulty sleeping.
We are all afraid of something like spiders, heights, deep water, etc. A phobia is different due to it's intensity of fear around a specific thing or situation. This fear can disrupt your life because people will change the way they live in order to avoid the feared object or situation. Agoraphobia is an example where a person feels they can't escape a situation or will experience a panic attack or extreme anxiety. They may avoid public places or even avoid leaving their homes at all.
Some mental health conditions are no longer classified as anxiety disorders, though anxiety or fear is a major part of the illnesses:
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder involves thoughts, images, or urges that trigger anxiety (obsessions). It may include repeating actions as an attempt to reduce that anxiety (compulsions). Obsessions or compulsions usually take a lot of time and cause a lot of distress.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder can be triggered by a traumatic event. Physical or mental abuse, an accident, or a natural disaster. You may relive the event in nightmares or flashbacks. You may avoid anything that reminds you of the traumatic event. Though there is no immediate danger, you may feel unsafe in your home, in public, even surrounded by friends and family.
Who does anxiety affect?
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem in Canada. They can affect anyone at any age, including children. Sometimes, anxiety disorders are triggered by a specific event or stressful life experience. Anxiety disorders may be more likely to occur when we have certain ways of looking at things (like believing that everything must be perfect). They can come from learning bad or unhelpful coping strategies from family or friends. Sometimes, there is no obvious reason.
What can I do about my anxiety disorder?
You do not have to "get over it" on your own. You may not even realize how much your anxiety is affecting your everyday life until you start taking small steps to work on it. Counseling, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Meditation Practices and Art Therapy can be very helpful in getting you started and giving you some very useful tools. We can explore how your thoughts, feelings and behaviors work. Together we can help you change patterns of thought, build healthy behaviors and reduce you dependence on unhelpful coping strategies. The first step is making an appointment. We offer a free 30 minute consult or you are welcome to come in for an initial visit.