What is Anxiety?

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What is Anxiety?

It is very common for people to link anxiety and fear, but the two can very different. When you are afraid it is usually triggered by a certain external object or event. You might fear missing a deadline or failing. Whereas anxiety is usually an internal feeling, you might feel that you are losing control or that something bad is going to happen. 

“Experiencing anxiety is normal,” says Dr. Gene Beresin, executive director of the Clay Center for Healthy Young Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital. “A certain amount of anxiety can even be helpful.” Everyday anxiousness is expected in life when it comes to failures, life challenges or potential loss. Anxiety disorders are differentiated from everyday anxiousness by being more intense (panic attacks), lasting longer (anxious feelings persist after stressful event is over), and developing/having phobias. 

Anxiety effects every aspect of a person. It has a behavioural, psychological and physiological reaction at one time. On a behavioural level it can affect your ability to express yourself. Physiologically, it can cause your body to react such as increased heart rate, sweating and nausea. The psychological aspect causes feelings of being uneasy, feeling detached from yourself and feelings of doom. 

Types of Anxiety

There are many different types of anxiety that can be triggered by a variety of things in your life. Here is a list of some of the more common types of anxiety:


This is a result of having multiple panic attacks. A panic attack is intense feelings of fear that appear out of the blue without any cause. Having multiple panic attacks (not caused by substance abuse) would be considered panic disorder.


The word itself means fear of open spaces. Typically this means you fear panic attacks themselves and being in a situation where you can not escape or help is unavailable (people with Agoraphobia may avoid crowded places, enclosed spaces or public transportation). 


Phobic anxiety is typically much stronger than other forms. It usually causes a person to avoid situations or to endure these situations while having extreme feelings of anxiousness. 

  • Social Phobia – OR Social Anxiety, is fear, embarrassment, or humiliation by others (pubic speaking, being watched, using public washrooms, fear of crowds)
  • Specific Phobia – Fear of something specific such as animals, elevators, airplanes, doctors, storms, sickness and more. Specific phobia’s commonly stem from a traumatic event or childhood fears that were never outgrown.

Generalized Anxiety – Chronic anxiousness that is not accompanied by any of the fears or panic attacks mentioned above. In this case, it is a consistent feeling of worry along with restlessness, trouble sleeping, irritability and difficulty concentrating. Instead of having one specific event or thing that causes the anxiety is it is basic fears like losing control, failure, and rejection.

Common Symptoms of Anxiety 

    • Shortness of breath
    • Heart palpitations
    • Trembling or shaking
    • Sweating 
    • Choking
    • Nausea
    • Numbness
    • Dizziness
    • Feeling of detachment or being out of touch with yourself
    • Hot flashes or chills
    • Fear of dying
    • Fear of going crazy or our of control

If you experience 4 or more of these symptoms all at once there is a big possibility that you are suffering from a panic attack. 

When you know its time to seek help about your anxiety 

Anxiety can be a number of the symptoms above but altogether it might feel like it has complete control over your life. If you are missing out on life experiences and social events because of it, it is time to seek some changes and start creating coping strategies to help you through the anxiety. Above all, treating anxious feelings does not happen over night or last forever. It is something that requires hard-work and commitment. There are plenty of strategies you can work through to help you with your anxiety. Using and sticking with multiple strategies is usually the most effective. 


Lifestyle changes

adjusting your eating habits, physical activity, avoiding substances, lowering caffeine intake 


Seeking therapy for Anxiety is one of the best treatments. Counsellors commonly use CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) to help a client understand the thoughts and feelings that they are having surrounding their anxiety and create a coping strategy to assist wth day-to-day anxiety. 


Meditation can help rewire your brain to be less anxious. When using breathing exercises and meditation it helps calm the mind and decrease the heart rate, therefor making you feel less anxious.

Please call Julie Lewis Counselling and Consulting Inc. to book an appointment 705-735-9107.