An anxiety disorder causes unexpected or unhelpful anxiety that seriously impacts our lives, including how we think, feel, and act.
A phobia is an intense fear around a specific thing like an object, animal, or situation. Most of us are scared of something, but these feelings don’t disrupt our lives. With phobias, people change the way they live in order to avoid the feared object or situation. For example, agoraphobia is fear of being in a situation where a person can’t escape or find help if they experience a panic attack or other feelings of anxiety. A person with agoraphobia may avoid public places or even avoid leaving their homes.
Panic disorder involves repeated and unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is a feeling of sudden and intense fear that lasts for a short period of time. It causes a lot of physical feelings like a racing heart, shortness of breath, or nausea. Panic attacks can be a normal reaction to a stressful situation, or a part of other anxiety disorders. With panic disorder, panic attacks seem to happen for no reason.
Social anxiety disorder involves intense fear of being embarrassed or judged negatively by others. As a result, people avoid social situations. This is more than shyness. It can have a big impact on work or school performance and relationships.
Generalized anxiety disorder is excessive worry around a number of everyday problems for more than six months (i.e. intense anxiety over a minor concern). Many people experience physical symptoms too, including muscle tension and sleep problems.
Anxiety disorders can affect anyone at any age, and they are the most common mental health problem. 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) or learn unhelpful coping strategies from others. But sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be a reason.
Anxiety disorders are real illnesses that affect a person’s well-being. It’s important to talk to a doctor about mental health concerns. Normal, expected anxiety is part of being human. Treatment should look at reducing unhelpful coping strategies and building healthy behaviours that help you better manage anxiety.
Each anxiety disorder has its own specific treatments and goals, but most include some combination of the following strategies:
An effective form of counselling for anxiety is cognitive-behavioural therapy (or ‘CBT’). CBT teaches you how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours work together. A goal of CBT is to identify and change the unhelpful patterns of thinking that feed anxious thoughts. It’s often the first treatment to try for mild or moderate problems with anxiety.
Some people also find antianxiety or antidepressant medication helpful. Medication can help with the physical feelings of anxiety. It may also make anxious thoughts less frequent or intense, so it can be easier to learn helpful coping strategies.
Support groups—in person or online (like Upopolis) —may be a good place to share your experiences, learn from others, and connect with people who understand.
Many different skills can help people manage anxiety, such as stress management, problem-solving, and relaxation. Mindfulness—developing awareness of the present moment without judgement—may also help. Practices that support wellness, such as eating well, exercising, having fun, and connecting with others, are also important.
Supporting a loved one who is experiencing an anxiety disorder can be difficult. You may not understand why your loved one feels or acts a certain way. Some people who experience an anxiety disorder feel like they have to do things a certain way or avoid things or situations, and this can create frustration or conflict with others. You may feel pressured to take part in these behaviours or adjust your own behaviours to protect or avoid upsetting a loved one. Support can be a delicate balance.
Here are some general tips.
Sourced from: https://cmha.ca/mental-health/understanding-mental-illness/anxiety-disorders
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