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Anxiety Disorders: Understanding, Seeking Help, and Effective Treatment Approaches in Edmonton

Updated: Jul 13, 2023



Anxiety disorders are common and can significantly impact daily life, but the good news is that effective treatment options are available to help manage anxiety symptoms and improve overall well-being. In this blog post, we will explore what anxiety issues are, how to recognize when you need help, and five different evidence-based treatment approaches, including psychotherapy, medication, and other common treatments. Living in Edmonton, whether in Sherwood Park, South Edmonton, or Whyte Avenue, access to qualified mental health professionals, counselors, therapists, and psychologists is readily available.


Understanding Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders can manifest in various ways, impacting both our thoughts and bodies. Common symptoms include persistent worry, excessive fear, restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts, sleep disturbances, muscle tension, and physical sensations like rapid heartbeat or shortness of breath. These symptoms can significantly interfere with daily life, but understanding them is the first step toward seeking support and finding effective coping strategies.


Types of Anxiety Disorders

Welcome to the world of anxiety disorders, where understanding and support can make a world of difference. Anxiety disorders encompass a range of conditions characterized by excessive worry, fear, and physical symptoms that can significantly impact daily life. From the constant unease of Generalized Anxiety Disorder to the paralyzing panic attacks of Panic Disorder, the fear of judgment in Social Anxiety Disorder, the specific phobias that grip our minds, and the distressing obsessions and compulsions of OCD, these disorders can be challenging to navigate. Central to anxiety is your own personal process of avoidance when your brain perceives something as threatening. The process of detecting danger, feeling anxious, and avoiding it escalates the negative feelings and pattern over time. Below are a summary of common anxiety issues (not exhaustive):

  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Persistent and excessive worry about various aspects of life, such as work, relationships, and health. Physical symptoms may include restlessness, fatigue, muscle tension, and difficulty concentrating.

  2. Panic Disorder: Recurrent panic attacks characterized by sudden and intense fear or discomfort. These attacks can include symptoms like heart palpitations, shortness of breath, trembling, chest pain, and a fear of losing control or having a heart attack.

  3. Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD): Intense fear of being judged or embarrassed in social situations. People with SAD may avoid social interactions, experience excessive self-consciousness, and have physical symptoms like blushing, sweating, or trembling.

  4. Specific Phobias: Overwhelming fear and avoidance of specific objects, situations, or activities. Common phobias include heights, flying, spiders, or certain environments. Exposure to the phobia trigger can lead to extreme anxiety or panic attacks.

  5. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Intrusive and distressing thoughts (obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviors or mental rituals (compulsions). Individuals with OCD often feel compelled to perform these rituals to alleviate anxiety or prevent perceived harm.


Recognizing When You Need Help

Determining when to seek help for anxiety disorders can be challenging, as various factors contribute to anxiety. Lifestyle choices, including sleep quality, drinking habits, nutrition, allergies, and medical conditions, can have a significant impact on anxiety. If your anxiety symptoms are persistent, cause personal distress, interfere with your relationships, work, or activities, it is important to consult with both a doctor and a licensed mental health professional in Edmonton.


Five Typical Treatment Approaches for Anxiety Disorders:

  1. Psychotherapy/Counseling: Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), is a widely used and effective treatment for anxiety disorders. CBT helps identify and modify negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to anxiety. Of course, there are a number of therapies that are effective for anxiety which can be recommended by a professional. Licensed counselors, therapists, and psychologists in Edmonton, including Sherwood Park, South Edmonton, or Whyte Avenue, can provide personalized therapy sessions to address specific anxiety issues and develop effective coping strategies.

  2. Medication: Medication can be an important component of anxiety disorder treatment, particularly for moderate to severe cases. Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are commonly prescribed to alleviate anxiety symptoms. A psychiatrist or a healthcare professional can evaluate your condition and determine if medication is appropriate for your needs.

  3. Relaxation Techniques and Stress Management: Learning relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or mindfulness meditation, can help manage anxiety symptoms. Incorporating stress management strategies into daily life, such as regular exercise, adequate sleep, and engaging in enjoyable activities, can also have a positive impact on anxiety.

  4. Lifestyle Modifications: As mentioned earlier, daily lifestyle factors can significantly contribute to anxiety. Making positive changes, such as prioritizing quality sleep, exercising, reducing alcohol or caffeine consumption, maintaining a balanced diet, and managing any underlying medical conditions or allergies, can contribute to improved anxiety management.

  5. Exposure Therapy: Exposure therapy is a powerful and evidence-based treatment approach for anxiety disorders and phobias. It involves gradually exposing individuals to their feared objects, situations, or thoughts in a safe and controlled manner. By confronting these fears in a systematic and gradual way, exposure therapy helps individuals learn that their anxiety decreases over time, leading to a reduction in avoidance behaviors and an increase in confidence.

Evidence of Success

Anxiety is one of the most common and treatable mental health conditions. Various psychotherapies have proven effective in treating anxiety disorders. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps individuals challenge negative thought patterns and behaviors. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) encourages acceptance of anxiety and living a meaningful life. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) focuses on emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) cultivates mindfulness to reduce stress. These are just a few evidence-based therapies have shown success in reducing anxiety symptoms and improving overall well-being. Consulting with a licensed mental health professional can help determine the most suitable approach for individual needs and circumstances. Review my website section on Anxiety issues at www.ToddLabbePsychology.com to see my personal approach.


Depending on the severity, treating anxiety disorders can require all of some a comprehensive approach that includes therapy, medication (when appropriate), lifestyle modifications, stress management, or considering underlying medical factors. Identifying the sources of anxiety can be challenging due to the multitude of contributing factors, making consultation with both a doctor and a licensed mental health professional important. Understanding how our own Psychology can increase or decrease anxious symptoms is essential in learning to reduce and live with anxiety in daily life. If you would like to know more or discuss anxiety issues personally please contact me at www.ToddLabbePsychology.com

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