Chronic Conditions

Anxiety

Anxiety happens as a normal part of life. But for some people, anxiety persistently interferes with daily activities such as work, school or sleep. This type of anxiety can disrupt relationships and enjoyment of life, and over time it can lead to health concerns and other problems.

In some cases, anxiety is a mental health condition that requires treatment. Generalized anxiety disorder, for example, is characterized by excessive worry about a number of events or activities. Other anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have more specific symptoms.

You may want to see your doctor if:

• You feel like you're worrying too much and it's interfering with your work, relationships or other parts of your life

• You feel depressed, have trouble with alcohol or drug use, or have other mental health concerns along with anxiety

• You have suicidal thoughts or behaviours (seek emergency treatment immediately)


Diagnosis

To help diagnose an anxiety disorder and rule out other conditions, your family doctor or psychiatrist will take a detailed history and do a physical exam to look for signs that your anxiety might be linked to a medical condition.

As there are several types of anxiety disorder, your doctor will diagnose you with the specific type after a comprehensive assessment of your symptoms and signs prior to starting treatment.


The two main treatments for anxiety disorders are psychotherapy and medications. You may benefit most from a combination of the two. It may take some trial and error to discover exactly what treatments work best for you:

Psychotherapy which includes, amongst others, counselling, behaviour therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy, involves working with a therapist. Cognitive behavioural therapy is one of the most effective forms of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders. Generally a short-term treatment, cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on teaching you specific skills to reduce your anxiety and thereby gradually return to the activities you have avoided because of anxiety.

Medications include anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medicines. These can reduce your anxiety symptoms and keep them under control in conjunction with psychotherapy.


Resources

Find out more information from:

Health Promotion Board


  How effective are treatments? How long do they take?
Success of treatment varies, but most people with an anxiety disorder can be helped with professional care. Benefits of psychotherapy are usually seen in 12 to 16 weeks. Medication may be a short-term or long-term treatment option, depending on severity of symptoms, other medical conditions and individual circumstances. It often takes time and patience to find the medicine that works best for the patient. Treatment may be complicated if the patient has more than one anxiety disorder or if he/she suffers from depression, addiction problems, or other co-existing conditions. This is why treatment must be tailored specifically for each individual.

  What causes anxiety disorders?

Researchers are learning that anxiety disorders can run in families, and that they have a biological basis, much like other disorders such as allergies or diabetes, Anxiety disorders may develop from a complex set of risk factors that include genetic, temperamental and environmental factors.