Living Inquiries for Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common of all mental health problems, affecting an estimated one in 10 Canadians. These disorders can be successfully treated so it is important to recognize the difference between being anxious in response to a real event, and an anxiety disorder which produces fear or distress that is out of proportion to the situation.

People who suffer from anxiety disorders have long periods of intense feelings of fear or distress out of proportion to real events. Their brains interpret real or imagined events to be much more risky or dangerous than they really are. Their lives are full of unease and fear, which interferes with their personal and professional relationships.

Anxiety disorders affect behavior, thoughts, emotions and physical health. It is believed that a combination of biological factors, brain functions, personal circumstances, combined with social and economic factors, cause anxiety disorders, the same way that heart disease or diabetes are caused by a combination of factors.

People often suffer from more than one anxiety disorder, and those with anxiety disorders often suffer from depression, eating disorders or substance abuse as well. The good news is that anxiety disorders can be successfully treated once they are recognized.

Medical treatment for anxiety includes a combination of drug and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT involves helping people to turn their anxious thoughts and feelings into more rational ones. Sometimes people will benefit from being exposed in a controlled way to the object and situation they fear. Some CBT techniques have been developed to deal with specific disorders. For example, people with panic disorder can benefit from learning new breathing and meditation techniques, which can help them deal with their anxiety.

Health Canada

Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada