Anxiety Disorders

People with anxiety disorders experience excessive anxiety, fear, or worry, causing them to avoid situations or develop compulsive rituals to try to ease their anxiety.

Some anxiety disorders are:

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
    People with OCD experience persistent and repetitive thoughts, ideas, impulses, and images that they perceive as intrusive and inappropriate and which cause anxiety or distress.
    • Symptoms:
      • Persistent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or rituals (compulsions) that the person finds impossible to control;
      • Typically, obsessions concern contamination, doubting (such as worrying that the iron hasn’t been turned off), and disturbing sexual or religious thoughts;
      • Compulsions can include washing, checking, organizing, and counting.

  • Phobias
    Theseare marked by a persistent fear of particular objects or situations, such as flying, heights, or animals.
    • Symptoms:
      • People suffering from a specific phobia are overwhelmed by unreasonable fears, which they are unable to control;
      • Exposure to feared situations can cause them extreme anxiety and panic, even if they recognize that their fears are illogical.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
    This is marked by distressing recollections of a life-threatening event, usually caused by a terrifying experience in which serious physical harm occurred or was threatened.
    • Symptoms:
      • Common symptoms include: flashbacks during which the person relives a terrifying experience;
      • Nightmares;
      • Depression;
      • Feelings of anger or irritability.

Close to three million Canadian adults experience an anxiety disorder in a given year according to Health Canada. As a group, anxiety disorders are the most common of all mental illnesses. Recognizing symptoms early and learning to manage those symptoms will help to prevent secondary disorders such as depression or substance abuse.