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Anxiety 101

Definition: Anxiety is a normal response to potential threats. In small amounts, it can be helpful because it helps us stay safe and pay attention to problems. But when anxiety is severe or happens too often, it can be overwhelming and make it hard to function.

What does anxiety feel like: “You know when you're sitting on a chair and you lean back so you're just on two legs and you lean too far so you almost fall over but at the last second you catch yourself? I feel like that all the time” - Steven Wright


  • anxious thoughts or beliefs that are difficult to control

  • restlessness

  • trouble concentrating

  • difficulty falling asleep

  • fatigue

  • irritability

  • unexplained aches and pains

  • poor concentration 

  • increased heart rate

Types of Anxiety: 

  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):  is a condition where a person feels anxious and worried most of the time, even when there is no clear reason for it. GAD is characterized by chronic anxiety, excessive worry, and tension.

  2. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):  is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions). People with OCD often perform certain actions like washing their hands, counting, checking, or cleaning in order to try to stop their obsessive thoughts or make them go away. These actions only provide temporary relief, and not doing them can make anxiety worse.

  3. Panic disorder: A panic attack is a sudden and intense episode of fear that causes physical symptoms, even when there is no actual danger. Panic attacks can be very frightening and can make you feel like you are losing control, having a heart attack, or even dying. They often come on without any warning and can be very distressing.

  4. Phobias: A phobia is an intense fear of a specific situation or object that is not reasonable given the actual threat. For example, flying or a fear of heights could be considered phobias. These fears are often out of proportion to the actual danger and can be very distressing.

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  1. CBT Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): is a commonly used and effective treatment for panic attacks and panic disorder. CBT focuses on identifying and changing thinking patterns that can trigger panic attacks. This type of therapy can be very helpful and the benefits can last a long time.

  2. Medication:  Different medications can be used to help reduce symptoms of anxiety depending on the type of anxiety disorder and whether an individual has any other mental or physical health conditions. A doctor can help you determine which medication(s) may be right.

  3. Relaxation Techniques: Techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness can help provide immediate relief from anxiety symptoms. With practice, these relaxation skills can become a powerful tool for managing anxiety in the moment.

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