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What You Need To Know About Anxiety?

What is anxiety?

According to American Psychological Association, anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased heart rate, sweating, and shaking. According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada, “the 12 month prevalence for any anxiety disorder is over 12% and one in four Canadians (25%) will have at least one anxiety disorder in their lifetime”.

In my experience as a professional psychotherapist, anxiety is always among the most prevalent reasons why people come in for help. In the recent years, there have been numerous research on anxiety with the aim to understand why it has become an epidemic mental disorder in North America. I invite you to read this blog to learn a few important facts on this topic:

Anxiety serves a purpose: for people whose lives have been greatly impacted by anxiety, it is hard to imagine that stress or anxiety actually serves a crucial role in our survival. Anxiety is one of the basic human emotions and its primary function is to protect us against potential danger. Think about the last time you had to write and exam and felt some level of anxiety or stress. Perhaps it helped you to study harder for your exam. Remember the time when you heard a siren on the road and you pulled over to the side, perhaps the loud sound made you somewhat nervous, but it also protected you against potential danger.

When anxiety is considered an issue or disorder?

I always use the example of an alarm system to describe what anxiety disorders look like for my clients. Most of us would agree that having an alarm system ensures our security, but imagine what would happen if the alarm system starts to malfunction and send out false alarm all the time? That’s exactly what people with anxiety disorders experience! They deal with great amount of stress and anxiety in everyday situations where there is no potential harm such as going to a party or movies, or when talking to people, etc. Individuals can experience anxiety in a cognitive form which would be experiencing anxiety provoking thoughts, or constant worrying. Anxiety can also be experienced psychically with symptoms such as heart racing, shortness of breath. Below you can find some common symptoms of anxiety:

  • Panic, fear, and worrisome thoughts

  • Sleep problems

  • Shaking and sweating

  • Numbness or tingling in hands or feet

  • Shortness of breath or chest tightening

  • Heart palpitations

  • Dry mouth

  • Nausea and Dizziness

  • Tense muscles

Common myths about anxiety!

1. If I can manage to avoid it, it will go away!

Perhaps that is the most common myth about anxiety. People who deal with anxiety have probably told themselves this sentence over and over again. However, research suggests that when it comes to anxiety disorders, avoidance is not the best strategy. Furthermore, in some cases if anxiety is not treated in a timely manner, the symptoms will aggravate and clients end up experiencing anxiety in different forms or levels. Studies on anxiety disorders, suggest that confrontation is a technique that is commonly used in different therapeutic modules. So, If avoidance is not the answer, and confrontation is the strategy to deal with anxiety, doing it alone and on your own might seem very overwhelming. Luckily psychotherapy can provide you with enough information and tools on how to confront your anxiety with the support and help of a professional counselor.

2. If I talk about my worries I will be even more anxious!

It's a common assumption that talking about your worries, will make you feel even more anxious. Contrary to this belief, research suggests that just talking about your stressors could help reduce your symptoms of anxiety. In counselling, you could gain the courage to openly share and challenge your biggest worries and fears with the support of a professional therapist.

What can you do to manage/ treat your anxiety or stress?

There are different types of treatment you can rely on manage your symptoms of anxiety. Psychotherapy is among the options that could help people understand why they experience stress, and learn how they can better manage their symptoms. You can also discuss your symptoms with your GP to find out if you need anxiety medication. Depending on the severity of your symptoms sometimes everyday practices could also help you lower your overall stress. These exercises could be used by anyone even if they are not experiencing clinical anxiety. However, it’s very important to note that the information you find below is not considered clinical treatment and the self-measures tools could not yield a diagnosis. The purpose is for you to learn how to better monitor your stress level and adopt a healthier life style. Below you can find useful links and apps to learn how to cope with about anxiety and stress.

Download these Anxiety Apps on your phone:

Anxiety Free

One strategy some people with anxiety swear by is self-hypnosis. A practitioner of clinic-based hypnotherapy, Donald Mackinnon developed these guided recordings. How it works: You listen to an audio recording in a quiet and safe environment and learn the technique. The recordings are more than just relaxing. They contain subliminal signals to speak to your subconscious.

Stop Panic and Anxiety Self-Help

This app is for users who’ve experienced panic attacks due to a panic disorder. In addition to keeping a personal diary, the app comes with three sets of audio: panic assistance, emotional training, and relaxation. The panic assistance audio is meant to coach users through a panic attack, while the emotional training audio trains users to access a calm state. The relaxation audio helps users reduce stress and relax the body.

The Worry Box

Put your worries away in a box! While that statement seems too good to be true, this app’s idea is to help you deal with and manage your worries. You keep a personal diary in the app where you input your worries. The Worry Box then helps you decide if the worry is unimportant, important, controllable, or uncontrollable. Depending on the worry, the app will give you techniques to help manage it, like next steps or coping statements to tell yourself.

Mind Shift

Struggling with anxiety? Tired of missing out? There are things you can do to stop anxiety and fear from controlling your life. MindShift™ is an app designed to help teens and young adults cope with anxiety. It can help you change how you think about anxiety. Rather than trying to avoid anxiety, you can make an important shift and face it.

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