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Anxiety Disorders

It is normal to feel the worry or tension of a fearful or threatening situation. What can be abnormal is to experience excessive worry, tension or fear in situations where there would normally be no reason for these feelings. When these feelings interfere with normal daily activities or relationships, then one is said to have an anxiety disorder. People who suffer from anxiety disorders should receive some treatment.

It is normal to feel the worry or tension of a fearful or threatening situation. What can be abnormal is to experience excessive worry, tension or fear in situations where there would normally be no reason for these feelings. When these feelings interfere with normal daily activities or relationships, then one is said to have an anxiety disorder. People who suffer from anxiety disorders should receive some treatment.

Many of these people realize that something is wrong with their feelings. They may describe themselves as going crazy or losing their minds. This is not a weakness of character or a personality problem. These anxiety disorders are common, may present in varying degrees of severity and can be treated if identified. Review the flow chart to see if you or a loved one may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.

Possible Symptoms:

Psychological

  • worry

  • fear of losing control

  • fear of going crazy

  • fear of dying

Physical

SELF-HELP SUGGESTIONS

• Recognize symptoms of anxiety/panic may be treated.

• Look for triggers such as:

• Too much alcohol, caffeine

• Lack of sleep

• Relationship problems, including abuse

• taking on too much

• Physical illness

• A recent loss

• Set goals to manage triggers.

• Identify your fears (ie. public speaking).

• Take small steps to confront your fears (i.e. try to speak in front of 1 or 2 friends you feel comfortable with).

• Seek help from friends, family, primary care provider, support groups.

• Try to treat symptoms: Physical symptoms of light-headedness, tingling, numbness, and shortness of breath are commonly due to hyperventilation.

You can concentrate on slow deep breaths or breathe into a paper bag.

Medication and other treatment

For severe symptoms, medication is often prescribed. Some of these medications can be addictive and often lose their effectiveness with prolonged use. Many of these medications have similar chemistry to diazepam (Valium). Side-effects are common and need to be discussed with your doctor.

Counselling and behaviour modification therapy are the best long-term approaches to anxiety disorders. Talk to your primary care provider about this approach.

Breathing exercises

• Breathe in for 3 seconds then out for 3 seconds then pause for 3 seconds before you take another breath in

• Practice this for 10 minutes morning and night

• Use before and during situations that cause anxious feelings for you

• During the day, make a point of checking and slowing down your breathing

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