November 8, 2022
Kasey Thompson

About Anxiety

Do you have anxiety?

What is Anxiety? 

There are several different types of anxiety. Its important to identify what is driving your symptoms, so we can work together to find an effective and long lasting solution. A good place to start is with a counsellor or your family doctor. If you don’t have a family doctor, we suggest a naturopathic doctor to oversee your medical needs.

Panic Attacks/ Panic Anxiety Attacks
A panic attack can be very intense. It comes on suddenly and typically lasts for a short period of time. You may experience a racing heart beat, difficulty breathing, nausea and other physical effects. Panic attacks can be a common response to extreme stress, especially emotional stress. It becomes a disorder, when it happens repeatedly and for no apparent reason.

Social Anxiety
There’s shyness and then there’s social anxiety disorder. Its experiencing intense fear of being negatively evaluated by others, criticized or embarrassed. People who experience this will often avoid social situations. It can have a huge effect on their work and/or school performance as well as on their relationships.

Generalized Anxiety
It’s perfectly normal to worry a bit, but not if it’s constant. Excessive worry about everyday problems for a period of more than six months excessive. The level of anxiety is usually far greater than it should be in relation to the concern. Many people will experience physical symptoms such as tension, headaches and difficulty sleeping.

Phobias
We are all afraid of something like spiders, heights, deep water, etc. A phobia is different due to it’s intensity of fear around a specific thing or situation. This fear can disrupt your life because people will change the way they live in order to avoid the feared object or situation. Agoraphobia is an example where a person feels they can’t escape a situation or will experience a panic attack or extreme anxiety. They may avoid public places or even avoid leaving their homes at all.

Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder involves thoughts, images, or urges that trigger anxiety (obsessions). It may include repeating actions as an attempt to reduce that anxiety (compulsions). Obsessions or compulsions usually take a lot of time and cause a lot of distress.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder can be triggered by a traumatic event. Physical or mental abuse, an accident, or a natural disaster. You may relive the event in nightmares or flashbacks. You may avoid anything that reminds you of the traumatic event. Though there is no immediate danger, you may feel unsafe in your home, in public, even surrounded by friends and family.

What Does Anxiety Feel Like?

Anxiety can feel like nervousness or an inability to relax. Some people experience tension in their chest, difficulty breathing or breathing deeply, abdominal tension or generalized muscle tension. These can come with a sense of dread and overwhelm.

Who Does Anxiety Affect?

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems in Canada. It can affect anyone at any age, including children. Sometimes, anxiety is triggered by a specific event or stressful life experience. Anxiety is more likely to occur when we have certain ways of looking at things (like believing that everything must be perfect). It can come from learning bad or unhelpful coping strategies from family or friends. It can also be a learned behavior if you grew up with a parent or family member with anxiety. Sometimes, there is no obvious reason, but the good news is, there’s always treatment options.

How Could Anxiety Be Affecting Me?

With counselling, we can explore how your thoughts, feelings and behaviors work. Together we can help you change patterns of thought, build healthy behaviors and reduce you dependence on unhelpful coping strategies. The first step is making an appointment. We offer a free 30 minute consult or you are welcome to book an initial visit.

Sometimes it’s not obvious that anxiety is the underlying issue. Chronic pain is a perfect example of this. One of the major factors that plays into experiencing chronic pain is fear and anxiety. The simplicity of feeling safe, can have a hugely positive effect on your pain. Its also a tool we use in counselling to help empower you to take control of your pain cycle.

Some other symptoms of anxiety can include headaches, TMJD (Jaw Clenching and Grinding), Digestive Upset, Skin Problems, Fatigue, Trouble Focusing, Difficulty Sleeping, Moodiness and More.

What Can You Do About Your Anxiety?

You do not have to “get over it” on your own. You may not even realize how much your anxiety is affecting your everyday life ​until you start taking small steps to work on it. Here are some suggestions as alternatives to medication:

Counseling,
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,
Meditation Practices,
Acupuncture and/or
Massage Therapy

All of these can be very helpful in getting you started and giving you some very useful tools. Just start somewhere! If you think you are suffering from Clinical Anxiety Disorder, complete the Beck Anxiety Survey below, so find out where you score, based on your symptoms:

Beck Anxiety Survey

Below is a list of common symptoms of anxiety. Please carefully read each item in the list. Indicate how much you have been bothered by that symptom during the past month, including today, by recording the number in the corresponding space in the column next to each symptom.

Numbness or Tingling

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Feeling Hot

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Wobbling in Legs

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Unable to Relax

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Fear of the worst happening

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Dizzy of lightheaded

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Heart pounding/racing

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Unsteady

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Terrified or afraid

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Nervous

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Feeling of choking

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Hands trembling

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Shaky/ unsteady

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Fear of losing control

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Difficulty breathing

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Fear of dying

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Scared

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Indigestion

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Faint/ lightheaded

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Face flushed

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

Hot/Cold sweats

  • 0 Not at all
  • 1 Mildly, but it didn’t bother me much
  • 2 Moderately, it wasn’t pleasant at times
  • 3 Severely, it bothered me a lot

 

Total your score by adding up the sum of the numbers.

Results Interpretation

A sum between 0 – 21 indicates very low anxiety. That is usually a good thing. However, it is possible that you might be unrealistic in either your assessment which would be denial or that you have learned to “mask” the symptoms commonly associated with anxiety. Too little “anxiety” could indicate that
you are detached from yourself, others, or your environment.

A sum between 22 – 35 indicates moderate anxiety. Your body is trying to tell you something. Look for patterns as to when and why you experience the symptoms described above. For example, if it occurs prior to public speaking and your job requires a lot of presentations you may want to find ways to calm
yourself before speaking or let others do some of the presentations. You may have some conflict issues that need to be resolved. Clearly, it is not “panic” time but you want to find ways to manage the stress you feel.

A sum that exceeds 36 is a potential cause for concern. Again, look for patterns or times when you tend to feel the symptoms you have circled. Persistent and high anxiety is not a sign of personal weakness or failure. It is, however, something that needs to be proactively treated or there could be significant impacts to you mentally and physically. You may want to consult a counselor if the feelings persist.

What should I do now?

A certain amount of anxiety is actually healthy, but if you scored higher than 25, we would suggest you consider seeking some help. There are many ways to approach treating anxiety. Counselling is one of the most obvious and ideal choices. Other therapies like acupuncture, massage and naturopathic medicine can also be very effective. Just start somewhere!

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