Anxiety

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If you are suffering from anxiety, you are not alone. Anxiety is common among children, youth, and adults. About 10% people are suffering from anxiety and 1 in 4 of us will experience anxiety at some point in our lives.

All of us experience anxiety from time to time. It’s normal for us to experience fear when we feel threatened. For example, when you walk in the woods, suddenly you see a big bear staring at you. First, you will feel anxious. Then in a split of second, you need to decide that 1) you will fight the bear 2) run away or 3) remain still to avoid being detected. So feeling anxious when facing dangerous situation means you are normal!

How do we separate anxiety from normal behaviour?

We need to consider that anxiety symptoms: 

  • are excessive and difficult to control for a period of long time (more than just a few days or weeks)
  • lead to significant emotional distress and personal suffering
  • lead to significant interference in work, school, home, and social activities

What are the symptoms related to anxiety?

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When we are experiencing anxiety, we tend to feel fearful, worried, tense, scared, apprehensive, frightened, or “freaked out”. Physically, we experience some following symptoms:

  • Rapid heart beat
  • Sweating
  • Trembling/shaking
  • Dry mouth/feeling of choking
  • Nausea/stomach upset
  • Urge to urinate
  • Cold chills/hot flushes
  • Dizziness
  • Numbing/Feelings detached
  • Visual changes
  • Muscle tension

In our mind, we are more likely to think about things related to real or potential sources of danger, like:

  • Something bad happening to self or someone else like family members
  • Having frightening thoughts, images, urges or memories
  • Having trouble to make decisions
  • Difficulty concentrating on things not related to the source of danger
  • Having frightening dreams or nightmares

In terms of our behaviour, we tend to do things that will make us feel safer, such as:

  • Staying away from fearful places or people/needing reassurance from others
  • Needing to be with somebody who makes us feel safer
  • Trying to distract ourselves
  • Self-medicating with drugs, alcohol or food
  • Compulsive behaviours like repeating cleaning, washing, checking, etc.
  • Mental rituals like repeating the same word or phrase over and over
     

These behaviours are considered as safety behaviours and the main purpose is to prevent feeling of anxiety or panic. If these safety behaviours become frequent, compulsive, and disruptive, they tend to increase the severity of anxiety.

If our anxiety is untreated or poorly managed, we are more likely to develop depression. Research shows that about 50% of people with anxiety have also experienced depression. The good news is that if anxiety is being treated properly, the associated depressive symptoms are likely to be reduced as well.

With effective treatment, the majority of people with anxiety will improve significantly. Psychotherapy and medications are the two main types of treatment options for anxiety. You can get medication from your physicians or psychiatrists. Also be aware of some cautions regarding medications: 1) some people will experience side effects or unable to tolerate the unwanted side effects. 2) symptoms of anxiety may return when people stop taking medications for anxiety. 3) some medications can be addictive or cause withdrawal syndromes.

Psychotherapy is another option for treating anxiety, and sometimes it can be combined with medications treatment. Comparing to medications, people with anxiety tend to benefit from psychotherapy in the long run.

Please call 778-235-4027 for a free 15-minute consultation or book an appointment.