Stress and anxiety have become part of our daily reality. Under the right circumstances, anxiety is beneficial. When associated with certain situations such as an impending exam, working on an important paper or preparing to give a presentation, a certain amount of anxiety can be both stimulating and healthy. However, you may be suffering from anxiety disorder if the level of anxiety you are experiencing is unrelenting, disproportionate, does not disappear after the anxiety-causing factors are no longer an issue and if you become anxious for no apparent reason. This type of anxiety is considered an illness since it is a sign of a chemical imbalance in the brain affecting the neurotransmitters. The afflicted person may see each task as a source of anxiety - as though they were seeing the world through glasses that distort reality. Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental health problems.
Panic disorder is characterized by panic attacks. Such attacks are triggered for no apparent reason and do not seem to be caused by any one event. Fear of having an attack becomes a phobia since the person in question will try to avoid everything that could elicit an attack.
There is no one cause for anxiety. It would appear however, that predisposition and stressful situations have a more significant impact on some more than others. This may be the result of personality traits, family history (heredity) and life experience. Also, certain illnesses such as thyroid disorders, concern surrounding a diagnosis or treatment, taking excessive amounts of stimulants and daily negative stresses can all trigger anxiety.
When anxiety goes undiagnosed and untreated, the person in question may develop feelings of incompetence which can develop into depression.
Anxiety is an illness that requires medical diagnosis and treatment. If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from anxiety, it is important to see a physician who will be able to assess whether your problem is physical, which is sometimes the case. If not, the physician will be able, during the consultation, to establish whether you or your loved one is suffering from anxiety disorder or some type of depression - an illness whose symptoms are similar to those of anxiety.
Anxiety is an illness that is treated with medication (certain antidepressants, "sedatives"). Psychotherapy has also proven useful in helping resolve all aspects of a problem. A change in lifestyle can also be beneficial in reducing daily stress. Here are a few suggested lifestyle changes:
For more information or for support :
Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada
Canadian Mental Health Association
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.