What is Anxiety?
Everyone experiences anxiety to a certain point. For example, we may feel anxious when we become stressed about a big test or feel worried about attending social events.
Anxiety disorders, on the other hand, occur when these feelings last for a longer period of time and are more frequent and intense. This may start to negatively impact the way you live your life by disrupting your daily routines. You may even start to avoid activities or hobbies you typically enjoy as a result of the anxiety.
What Causes Anxiety?
There are several types of anxiety disorders that make it difficult to cope when something triggers your emotions. The causes of anxiety can be influenced by both genetic and environmental factors such as traumatic life situations or through family history.
A phobia is an extreme and irrational fear of specific objects, animals, and situations that can cause people to go out of their way to avoid these intense feelings.
Common Phobias Include:
Animal Phobias (ex. Fear of spiders, dogs, cats)
Situational Phobias (ex. Fear of flying, driving)
Natural Environment Phobias (ex. Fear of heights, water)
Panic disorders include having intense and unpredicted panic attacks towards a stressful situation. These feelings of fear may become so intense that they experience a variety of physical symptoms such as a pounding heart and difficulty breathing.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety involves the fear of being judged in a social situation. This can include being afraid of speaking in a public situation, participating in group activities, and other social interactions.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety includes intense feelings of worry over multiple topics at a time with daily issues including school, work, and relationships.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms?
Shortness of Breath
Worrying something bad might happen
Thinking about being unable to breathe or having a heart attack
Thinking about the "what ifs" of a situation
Avoiding social interactions
Isolating yourself from daily activities
Trouble focusing or managing multiple tasks
What Can I Do To Help?
Anxiety disorders can deeply affect an individual's daily life and range on different levels of severity. Different treatments and coping methods are available depending on the type of anxiety disorder and may require a combination of different strategies.
Stress Management Tools: Each person will have different tools for coping with their anxiety. Common methods include exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep. Remember that these tools can change over time and may not always work for you even if it has worked before.
Medication: Some types of medication can work better for others than they may for you. Everyone person's body is different and can react to medications differently. Ask your doctor about different treatment options to see if this may be the best fit for you.
Therapy or Peer Support Groups: Therapy can be a great source to help work through anxiety regardless of how severe it is. However, therapy can be intimidating for many people, especially if it is your first time. If you are comfortable with it, try reaching out to a peer support group in your community. Some support groups may be virtual and allow you to stay anonymous while being able to share your thoughts.
It is always best to talk to your doctor about any concerns or questions you might have. This page should not be used as a resource to self-diagnose.
Anxiety Infographics & Tip Sheets