Have you experienced an anxiety or panic disorder?

Have you experienced an anxiety or panic disorder? If so, you are not alone, as 12.6% or 2,910,888 Canadians suffer from these conditions annually.

We all experience some anxiety in our lives, however, the following may be symptoms of an anxiety disorder:

  • excessive anxiety and worry uncontrollably about the future and daily life events
  • sudden rushes of intense anxiety and panic — out of the blue
  • fear or avoidance of certain situations, experiences or things
  • problems with anxiety due to a past trauma
  • unwanted thoughts and compulsive coping responses

These symptoms can cause significant distress and impairment in social, professional and other areas of life. They become a problem when they occur without any recognizable cause or when the situation does not warrant such a reaction. In other words, inappropriate anxiety is when a person’s heart races, breathing increases and muscles tense without any reason for them to do so.

Once a medical cause is ruled out, an anxiety disorder may be the culprit.

A panic attack — a physical manifestation of an anxiety disorder — usually includes several of the following symptoms:

  • heart palpitations
  • sweating, trembling, shaking
  • shortness of breath or a smothering sensation
  • chest pain/discomfort
  • nausea and abdominal discomfort
  • dizziness, light-headedness or feeling faint
  • feelings of unreality or detachment
  • tingling, numbness
  • fear of losing control or going crazy
  • fear of dying

Sufferers may think they are having a heart attack and cases sometimes are diagnosed in hospital emergency rooms.

Once medical causes have been ruled out by a physician, the key to treatment is accepting the panic attacks as psychological rather than physical. Although medication can be useful, counselling has proven quite successful, especially cognitive/behavioural approaches. Treatment may include practising relaxation exercises and working through the underlying issues.

For professional and confidential assistance, call Interlock at 604 431-8200 (Lower Mainland) or 1-800-663- 9099.