Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Imagine your every day being a struggle in terms of fear, shortness of breath, panic, phobia of being around people.  Even going to get a coffee can cause an attack.

Anxiety Disorders are the most common mental disorders in the general population, affecting 10-15%.  Anxiety can range from mild uneasiness to a panic attack - that feeling where the world is crashing down around you, completely falling apart, yet nothing is happening.  Anxiety can last for a few moments, days, months or a lifetime.

Most likely, you have experienced a form of anxiety in your life.  Buying a house, studying for an exam, a loved one being sick, driving in bad weather.  These are all mild cases of anxiety examples, but at any given moment, these examples can become full blown panic attacks, where you just lose complete control of yourself.

People with anxiety often describe symptomes such as: feeling "on edge", difficulty concentrating, irritability, physical symtoms such as trembling or sweating, sleep disturbance, uncontrollable worry that is disproportionate to source and interferes with day to day living.

Anxiety often produces frightening physical sensations as well - shortness of breath is one that can be very scary as people try to breathe, and can't seem to exhale.  Tactics our volunteers take on the phone with callers, are breathing exercises.  "Let's take a deep breathe together, and count to 5".  Often this is helpful for the caller to gain control of how they are feeling so that they are able to talk about what is causing the anxiety.

Another way to cope with anxiety or attacks is focusing on strategies that have worked in the past.  Does going for a walk help you?  Does cooking or baking help you?  Does cleaning help?

Anxiety Disorders are diagnosed by doctors, and can include:
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Phobias
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Operational Stress Disorder (This is a fairly new disorder, focusing on Military, Police, etc)
A great place to start if you're thinking you are dealing with an Anxiety Disorder, is to visit your family doctor, or a clinic nearby.  We have such amazing resources in the city for our use.

As always, if you are experiencing something you need to talk about, call and speak to one of our amazing Distress Line volunteers.  613-238-3311.

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