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Understand what's causing your anxiety - and the most effective way to treat it.

Anxiety causes symptoms treatment

It’s normal to experience anxiety occasionally, feeling worried or afraid before public speaking or a big date. But when you have an anxiety disorder you worry non-stop for no obvious reason, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada. Of all mental health problems, anxiety disorders, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder are the most common, affecting approximately one in 10 people, particularly women.

Anxiety causes Experts believe that anxiety disorders are caused by a combination of biological factors and personal circumstances. It’s common for people to suffer from more than one anxiety disorder and for it to be accompanied by depression or substance abuse.

Anxiety symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder include repeated, exaggerated worry about everyday life events and activities. When you have this disorder, which lasts at least six months, you experience extreme worry more days than not and anticipate the worst even when there’s no reason to expect it. Other symptoms include nausea, trembling, fatigue, muscle tension, or headache.

Anxiety diagnosis/tests If you suspect you have an anxiety disorder, see your doctor or mental health provider, who will likely conduct a physical examination to look for anxiety symptoms and see if they are related to a medical condition. Your health care providers will be checking to see if you meet the criteria outline in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders before making a diagnosis.

Anxiety treatment It varies depending on the type of anxiety disorder, however, there are two main approaches to treating anxiety disorders which can be combined:

Drug therapy, such as anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs, is generally prescribed to deal with the biological causes of anxiety, such as chemical imbalances.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) aims to transform anxious thoughts into more rational ones. Specific CBT techniques can be used to help particular anxiety disorders. Support groups may also be included in treatment.

Anxiety prevention If you’re feeling anxious, it may be possible to minimize the impact of your symptoms. Get help early on to find out if you would benefit from treatment. Try to remedy what is creating anxiety in your life, such as your job or relationship and avoid alcohol, drugs and nicotine which can make anxiety worse.  Getting regular exercise, meditating and doing relaxation or breathing exercises, may also help you cope with anxiety and prevent a bigger problem.

More info from Chatelaine
How to overcome anxiety

Outside resources
Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada
Canadian Mental Health Association