Sweaty palms, shortness of breath, feeling of terror – these are just some of the signs of anxiety. Life can present us with some very scary moments, and we can have a strong mental and physical reaction to these events. Most, if not all, people have experienced some form of anxiety in their life, but when does it become something more than a passing feeling or reaction? In this blog we discuss general anxiety, anxiety disorders, and a variety of recovery options for individuals experiencing anxiety.
A first date, a college exam, or driving in harsh weather are all stressful situations that can lead to anxiety. It is normal to feel anxious at times where we are pushed to try something that makes us a little uncomfortable. For many individuals, anxiety is a real disorder that affects them not only at certain moments, but for long periods of time.
Mood and anxiety disorders are among the most common types of mental disorders in Canada and have been shown to have a major impact on the daily lives of those affected. In 2013, an estimated 3 million Canadians (11.6%) aged 18 years or older reported that they had a mood and/or anxiety disorder (Stats Canada).
So what is classified as an anxiety disorder? Someone may be living with an anxiety disorder if they often live in anticipation of events to come and show signs of avoidance behaviour. There are several types of anxiety disorders, including:
- Generalized anxiety disorder – persistent feeling of anxiety or dread that can last months of years.
- Panic disorder – frequent and unexpected panic attacks
- Social anxiety disorder – an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others.
- Phobia-related disorders – an intense fear of—or aversion to—specific objects or situations.
There are many signs and symptoms of anxiety disorder. Some of the signs to watch for are; feeling nervous, restless or tense, a sense of impending danger, an increased heart rate, hyperventilation, extreme sweating, feeling weak or tired, trouble concentrating, and trouble sleeping. Anyone may experience anxiety disorders, but those who have a family history, those who have experienced trauma, or people who are more introverted may have a higher chance of anxiety. Individuals of all ages may also be affected by anxiety disorders.
Is it possible to recover from an anxiety disorder? As anxiety is a natural emotion that most people experience it is likely something an individual will experience periodically throughout their lives. However, with support and healthy coping skills the anxiety one experiences does not have to be debilitating like it is with with an anxiety disorder and can become a manageable emotion just like any other.
It may feel like there is no hope of recovery when it comes to anxiety – especially when attacks come on suddenly. But there are tools and resources to help you cope and recover from extreme anxiety.
Learning more about anxiety, and your specific anxiety disorder is a great start to learning to cope with your mental health. Not only can you learn from a textbook or professional, you can start to learn the signs and symptoms from your own experiences. Keeping a daily journal is a great way to track when you are feeling the most anxious. You may also learn what triggers your anxiety and how to manage those triggers and feeling associated with them.
Everyday stress can lead to an anxiety disorder. One way to cope with anxiety is to calm the mind. This could be through meditation, yoga, or even daily journaling. Many find the form of exercise a way to calm the mind and organize their thoughts. There are many long-term benefits to exercise, and not all of them physical. When we physically move our bodies, our brain releases endorphins and other feel-good mood boating hormones.
Whether you seek support from your friends and family, or join a support group of people who experience anxiety disorder, surrounding yourself with loving and accepting people can be a major help in recovery. Knowing you are not alone and that many people are going through a similar experience can be a major comfort and stress reliever. You may learn some coping tools from those going through similar situations.
We may be a little biased when it comes to suggesting individuals seek professional help, but we know first hand how helpful speaking to a counsellor can be! Professional counsellors can lend a non-judgemental ear and help you learn the tools needed to cope with your anxiety and mental health in general.
Feeling anxious is a normal human experience, but if you find yourself or a loved one feeling the long term effects of anxiety, you may be experiencing an anxiety disorder. There are tools and resources for individuals experiencing anxiety disorder. If you would like to discuss anxiety disorders, or general mental health with our team, or talk to a professional for more information, please contact us HERE.