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.