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What is anxiety and what are the common anxiety symptoms

Reviewed by Dr. J.-M. Assaad, psychologist & Dr. L. Zozula, psychologist on Sep 24th, 2015

You only live once!

This emblematic tag phrase symbolizes the spirit of our times, inspiring people to realize their dreams and appreciate every moment as a unique and once in a life-time opportunity. Mass media promotes this idea by sharing stories of people who have found happiness by taking leaps of faith. Social media shows us how our friends, family and acquaintances are following their dreams.

While invigorating, perceiving life through this lens can also be overwhelming. Finding our own happiness becomes associated with anxiety and stress as each decision we make holds such importance and meaning.

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Perhaps it comes as no surprise then that in 2015, anxiety has become the most common mental health problem. What does this mean? You are not alone.

Common symptoms of anxiety include :

  • Feeling excessively nervous, anxious or on edge
  • Worrying too much and finding yourself unable to stop or control worrying
  • Becoming easily annoyed or irritated
  • Restlessness or having trouble relaxing
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Shortness of breath
  • Avoiding daily activities because of anxiety

In order to overcome the biggest obstacles, we must first realize that it is not the fear itself we must conquer but ourselves.

You are in control. Although sometimes it may seems that anxiety has control over your life, this is not the case. 30% of anxiety is due to genetics. This means that more than half of the cause is manageable and controllable.

Anxiety can be experienced in many different ways and affect people differently.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Also referred to as GAD, generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by long lasting anxiety that is not triggered by a specific situation or stressor.

Symptoms: GAD is associated with an inability to control worry that persists for over 6 months, considerable impairment or distress in social context and the presence of at least one of the following physical symptoms : disturbed sleep patterns, fatigue, restlessness, difficulty concentrating or muscle tension.

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Panic disorder

About 2% of the population struggles with panic disorders. The symptoms associated with panic disorders are similar to those experienced with GAD. However, panic disorders are associated with recurrent and unexpected panic attacks. These episodes of extreme and overwhelming anxiety results in the avoidance of events and stressors that are believed to be triggers for fear of having another episode.

The world renowned singer-songwriter Adele struggles with panic disorder every time she sets foot on stage. Her fear comes from the idea that she will freeze on stage and disappoint her millions of fans.

Obsessive-Compulsive disorder

Also referred to as OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by repetitive behaviors and or thoughts.

Symptoms: despite feeling a need to resist, obsessions or compulsions are uncontrollable even though it is understood by the person experiencing them that they are irrational. Anxiety is experienced when one is told to not think or act on obsessive or compulsive thoughts and behaviors.

Common obsessive-compulsive rituals or thoughts :

  • Doubting : despite extreme caution and meticulousness, doubt remains that something is not right
  • Cleaning : extreme measures are taken to avoid contamination
  • Checking : repetitive and irrational verification

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Phobic disorders

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) and specific phobias are different types of phobic disorders.

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a fear of social situations that is managed by avoidance. In extreme cases, this may result in a fear of leaving one’s home at any cost.

Marilyn Monroe is said to have suffered from social anxiety disorder. Unknown to most, she struggled with extreme low self-esteem and self-doubt. She avoided social situations at all cost. She explains her feelings by stating that ‘’It is a terrible thing to be lonesome especially in the middle of a crowd’’.

The use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat anxiety has been proven to be one of the most effective approaches currently used in psychotherapy. Using CBT, a trained psychologist can help you identify anxiety triggers and re-orient beliefs and thought patterns to reduce anxiety.

A trained psychologist can offer different tools and strategies to help you overcome and control your anxiety. A certified psychologist can help you gain control of your life today.

Want to learn how to manage and overcome anxiety ?

Contact us at 1-844-337-2473 to start your journey to a better tomorrow today with the help of a trained psychologist.

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