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Anxiety- the symptoms and the types

Updated on December 30, 2014

Anxiety- the symptoms and the types

Although we still don't know exactly why people experience anxiety, it can be a life altering disorder. It is believed to be a combination of biological, psychological and individual factors.


Symptoms include:

heart racing/pounding, feeling like it will burst out of your chest

dry mouth




can't catch your breath


People need help. And asking for it isn't a weakness. Admitting you need help and asking for it? That is acknowledging fear and gaining strength from it.

— Ashley Erickson

Types of anxiety

Types of anxiety

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Persistent intrusive ideas, thoughts, impulses or images

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Reliving a psychologically traumatic situation long after any physical danger has passed. Characterized by flashbacks and nightmares.

Panic Disorders: Associated with panic attacks. Feelings or terror. Power, unpredictable and overwhelming.

Phobias: Specific=Irrational fear of something in particular. Social=Avoiding gathering of people.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Repeating, exaggerated worrying for more than 6 months. Always expecting the worst.

Phobias and Panic Disorders are the most common type. They affect 1 in 10 Canadians and are still not well understood.

Photo Credit: Nelumbo Yoga
Photo Credit: Nelumbo Yoga

PTSD - The Impact and the Facts

Don't Suffer Alone

It's hard to imagine people go through traumatic situations such as the death of a loved one, sexual assault or seeing someone badly injure or killed. But to relive these psychologically traumatic situations would be excruciating. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not a new disorder. During the American Civil War, a disorder very similar to PTSD called "Da Costa's Syndrome" plagued the troops, although true research and development didn't begin until after the Vietnam War when 19% of returning soldiers experienced symptoms of PTSD.

Some symptoms include shock, numbness and a feeling of living life outside your body (called disassociation). Symptoms begin approximately 3 months from the time of the traumatic event. There is little current data on PTSD but according to CBC news Health, almost 1 in 10 Canadians suffer or have suffered from PTSD. 2.4% of the population is experiencing the disorder at any given time.

After a traumatic event, PTSD affects 8% of men and 20% of women. 30% of the people experiencing this event develop a chronic form that persists throughout their lifetime.

The man in the hole story - watch the video below

Lately with my husband being away on military training or exercise, I've been filling my time watching retro television shows. Many a Quantum Leap, Battlestar Galacticca and JAG have been keeping me company on lonely evenings and weekends. The latest series I have return to is The West Wing. Today while watching "the West Wing" season 2, a certain part caught my attention in the episode titled "Noel". It is a story told by an ex-alcoholic character to a newly diagnosed PTSD character. It goes something like this;


An inspirational story for sure. So many soldiers and their families, want to be perceived as strong and independent without seeking the help they need. However sometimes we just need a friend who has been down the same road to help us find our way out. Do not suffer alone. As Ambrose Redmoon explains, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear."

The first step to recovery is to recognize the impact PTSD has on your life. Acknowledge the fear and consider that life is more important.

A couple years ago I was diagnosed with GAD and with Panic Disorder with agoraphobia. This has drastically changed my life. I am very slowly regaining control my life with the help of some wonderful people, like my husband.

Along the way I picked up a few tricks I'd like to share;

1.During times of high anxiety or panic, try to repeat positive affirmations to yourself. I like "I am strong" or "I'm perfectly fine". It seems cheesy but it does sometimes trick the brain into thinking that what I am saying is true.

2. Distraction. Try to keep your mind focused on something else. Anything else, no matter how mundane.

-For example, I like to colour, That's right I said colour. It's doing something that requires very little thinking but is still engaging. For this reason I find it relaxing.

-Other methods work as well, for example video games tend to captivate my attention and I have to focus on what I am doing which makes me for to panic.

-Guided meditation is a great tool but does take some practice. Keep at it and it will be very rewarding later on.

My personal journey with anxiety

Some good stuff about anxiety


One of, if not THE most inspirational episodes from The West Wing

Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety
Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety

In "Monkey Mind", Daniel Smith describes what it is like to live with anxiety honestly and humorously. He accurately describes the everyday life of an anxiety sufferer. How every small and menial decision can feel like life or death.

So according to Smith, what is anxiety?

Anxiety starts from fear. Once anxious, the brain looks for more things to be fearful of, which begets the cycle. Essentially, anxiety is addictive.

There is no cure for anxiety. Only treatment and treatment only works if one is committed to the long process.

Anxiety sufferers are not "crazy." Crazy implies a break from reality. Anxiety may be a result of being in "too close of touch" with reality.

"Monkey Mind" gives an accurate account into the mind of the anxiety sufferer with humour and wit rarely seen in non-fiction, self-help books.


Do you have any comment or tips to add for people with anxiety? - Share your thoughts below

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