Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can actually makes us aware of a future concern by alerting ourselves to potential dangers. Fear is one of the most common emotional responses to a potential threat that can be displayed through our automatic fight or flights responses in the face of what may be at the root of our anxiety. Many symptoms of anxiety come and go while placing no major interference on our day-to-day lives, however in cases where symptoms are causing significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning, then it may be the sign of an anxiety disorder.

In some cases, the source of anxiety may not be known but common triggers of anxiety include any of the following:

  • Acute or chronic stress
  • Genetics
  • Chronic pain or illness
  • Comorbidity with another mental illness such as depression
  • Trauma
  • Phobias (i.e. claustrophobia -fear of small spaces, etc.)
  • Consuming too much caffeine
  • Withdrawal from substances such as alcohol, drugs, or certain medications
  • Side effects of certain medications

The common signs and symptoms of anxiety includes:

                                • Increased heart rate
                                • Rapid breathing and shortness of breath
                                • Feeling faint or dizzy
                                • Increased restlessness and trouble concentrating
                                • Sleep difficulties (difficulty falling asleep or uninterrupted sleep)
                                • Dry mouth
                                • Sweating
                                • Body temperature changes (chills or hot flashes)
                                • Apprehension and worry
                                • Increased fear and distress
                                • Numbness or tingling

Anxiety is manageable and there are a number of effective treatments available. While anxiety symptoms may present differently to different individuals, most respond well to psychotherapy and medication as treatment options. Specifically, psychotherapy options like Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) can be helpful forms of treatment utilized to understand the source or cause of symptoms. Additionally, psychotherapy can provide more effective ways of thinking, reacting and behaving to help reduce and eliminate symptoms of anxiety through the development of healthy coping strategies.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013. ). What are Anxiety Disorders.

National Institute of Mental Health. (2013). Anxiety Disorders.

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