What is Anxiety ?
Every person experiences stress and anxiety on a regular basis. However, if the stress and anxiety that an individual experiences becomes chronic and reaches the point where it is inhibiting his/her ability to function properly, then it is more likely that the individual is dealing with an anxiety disorder as opposed to purely daily anxiety or stress. Statistics show that anxiety disorders affect approximately 20% of individuals at some point in their life. That is 1 in 5 individuals who have an anxiety disorder or exhibit consistent anxious symptoms need mental health support.
An anxiety disorder is a chronic condition characterized by excessive symptoms of uneasiness and anxiety that interfere with an individual’s’ ability to function normally on a daily basis. There are various diagnoses of anxiety disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Specific Phobias, Separation Anxiety Disorder and Selective Mutism.Generalised Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a worldwide problem affecting 9% of all people and 110 million people. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a chronic condition that includes heightened levels of continued anxiety and worry lasting for several months, usually continuing on for at least 6 months, and in many cases for several years. Generalized Anxiety disorder, if left untreated, can and will result in significant impairments to normal everyday functioning as a result of the consistent anxiety and worry. Therefore it is imperative to seek mental health support.
Causes of GAD are varied but are commonly the result of a combination of Temperamental, environmental and Genetic factors. Normally, an individual with GAD will see the world in a negative and worried state.
Difficulties arising from Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Academic difficulties including constant worrying, lack of concentration, restlessness, and fatigue in class and schoolwork
- Occupational difficulties such as the inability to perform work tasks effectively due to cognitive difficulties, fatigue, and insomnia
- Social difficulties such as struggles to communicate and engage socially with friends and relationships as a result of tension and fear
Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Consistent worrying
- Lack of concentration
- Muscle Tension
- Sleep difficulties
Additionally, children may exhibit their anxiety symptoms through behavioural difficulties or somatization (expressing anxiety through their bodies manifesting as headaches or abdominal symptoms).
Treatments for Generalized Anxiety Disorder
The most effective treatments for GAD are through Neurofeedback [treats cognitive (worrying) and emotional (irritability, being edgy) symptoms], Biofeedback (reduces physiological hyperarousal symptoms, therefore, preventing a potential panic reaction following worries), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy(addresses cognitive distortions associated with GAD) and Clinical Hypnosis addresses the root cause (aka subconscious reasons). Functional Medicine and Nutrition Counselling can identify any nutrition/lifestyle causes that can then be remedied through our lines of Nutraceuticals or IV Nutrient Therapy.
Panic disorder is a form of anxiety disorder that affects 2-3% of people worldwide with nearly all cases affecting teens or adults. Panic disorder is characterized by severe feelings of terror known as panic attacks that can occur at any time. These panic attacks last between 10 minutes to an hour and an individual suffering from Panic Disorder will have extreme levels of anxiety in between episodes, as they are constantly worrying about when the next panic attack will occur. Panic disorder may also lead to the arrival of other disorders such as Phobias (heightened fears) since an individual suffering from Panic disorder will want to avoid those areas in which they have had a panic attack in the past.
Panic disorder is caused by a combination of Temperamental, Environmental and Genetic factors. Most commonly, an individual will develop panic disorder as a result of constant worry and negative affectivity. Additionally, some form of childhood emotional trauma such as physical or sexual abuse may also result in panic attacks or panic disorder.
Difficulties arising from Panic Disorder:
- Panic attacks or fear of panic attacks at school, or anxiety of finishing homework or schoolwork, resulting in the student missing school or dropping out
- Occupational panic attacks or fear of occurrence of panic attacks, thereby resulting in loss of income or job
- Panic attacks or fear of panic attacks in social situations or places, resulting in fear of inability to be in social places or form friendships/relationships
Symptoms of Panic Disorder include:
- *Physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating heavily, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness, shortness of breath, numbness in extremities)
- Heightened fears and anxieties of next panic attack
- Fear of losing control
- Fear of dying
- Sense of terror or impending doom
Treatments for Panic Disorder
There are numerous effective treatments for Panic Disorder. The best-studied methods are psychotherapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Clinical Hypnosis CBT uses in addition to identifying triggers of panic attacks exposure therapy and desensitization to these triggers. Hypnosis deals with the subconscious causes of panic attacks. Neurofeedback increases the threshold for panic attacks by decreasing the background anxiety that fuels these attacks and Biofeedback reduces physiological hyperarousal, a hallmark of panic attacks.
Individuals can develop extreme anxiety and fear when faced with a feared situation or an object. They display unreasonable or irrational fear in response to the feared object or situation. For example, some people may show extreme fear and anxiety when facing a dog or open water.
This fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the feared situation or object. The lifetime prevalence of specific phobias is around 12-13% with most of them starting in early childhood.
Physical Symptoms of Specific Phobia include:
- Racing Heart
- Difficulty breathing
- Trembling or shaking
- Dry mouth
- Chest pain or tightness
Psychological Symptoms of Specific Phobia include:
- Feeling overwhelming anxiety or fear
- Knowing that your fear is irrational, but feeling powerless to overcome it
- Fear of losing control
- Feeling an intense need to escape
Treatments for Phobia
There are a number of options when dealing with specific phobias. Neurofeedback can calm down the overactivation of the fear centres in the brain such as the limbic system. Psychotherapies such as Clinical Hypnosis and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with exposure therapy can also be a very effective therapy. CBT exposure therapy reduces anxious responses to fear-triggers, whereas Hypnosis examines the subconscious cause of the phobia and by using one’s imagination eliminates that phobia.
Social Anxiety Disorder is a form of anxiety disorder in which an individual will have anxiety and worry over interacting and performing in social conditions. An individual with Social Anxiety Disorder will have heightened fears of embarrassing themselves or will have negative thoughts about how others will see or portray them. In many cases, the individual may avoid talking or interacting in social situations or may avoid going to social situations altogether.
Causes of Social Anxiety Disorder aren’t entirely understood but are believed to be caused by a combination of Temperamental (behavioural inhibition and negative evaluation), Environmental (childhood maltreatment) and Genetic factors.
Difficulties arising from Social Anxiety Disorder
- Higher levels of school dropout and inability to perform properly in class
- Low workplace productivity and maintaining employment
- Much lower social capabilities, associated with being single, unmarried, divorced, and not having children
- Inability to enjoy leisurely activities
Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder include:
- Fear of social situations
- Fear or anxiety of social situations in which the individual may be scrutinized
- Fear that individual will act in a way that will be criticized or be evaluated in a negative way
- Out of proportion fear or anxiety
- Fear lasting 6 or more months
- Significant impairment as a result of anxiety
Treatments for Social Anxiety Disorder
Fortunately, there are effective treatments for dealing with Social Anxiety Disorder, most commonly through Neurofeedback, which can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Other therapies such as Biofeedback can be helpful as well. Biofeedback can help by reducing the overactivation of anxiety responses, whereas Clinical Hypnosis can get rid of the root cause(s) of anxiety in the subconscious mind.
Separation Anxiety Disorder is rare and only inflicts 2% of all people. However, the disorder is more common at a younger age and as the individual ages, the disorder becomes less prevalent. Regardless, Separation Anxiety Disorder can have significant consequences if left untreated.
Separation Anxiety Disorder is characterized by an individual experiencing high levels of anxiety as a result of being separated from those that are close to them, usually caregivers. Generally, symptoms arise as a result of an individual moving away or being separated from someone whom that individual has relied on regularly.
Separation Anxiety Disorder is generally caused by various factors that include life stress, such as the loss of a loved one, change of schools, parental divorce, a move, as well as through genetics with heritability estimated at 73%.
Difficulties arising from Separation Anxiety Disorder
Functional difficulties with regard to Separation Anxiety Disorder are catastrophic and can result in complete avoidance of any activities outside one’s home. These include:
- Fear or anxiety regarding going to school
- Inability to work or fear of leaving the house
- Not leaving the home
- Lack of friendships or relationships, or nonexistent social life
Common symptoms of Separation Anxiety Disorder include:
- Fear of being alone
Treatments for Separation Anxiety Disorder
Treatments for Separation Anxiety Disorder vary but the most effective treatments are with Psychotherapy techniques such as Clinical Hypnosis, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) . Hypnosis addresses any traumatic experiences (such as being lost or separated from a primary caregiver), whereas CBT helps with cognitive distortions (worries usually) of what separation means for the affected individual. Neurofeedback can reduce overall anxiety to prepare the person for psychotherapy.
Selective Mutism is rare, with only 1% of individuals having the disorder. Most cases are with children under the age of 5. Despite this, Selective Mutism can create significant problems for both the individual and members of his/her family.
Selective Mutism is caused by a variety of factors such as negative affectivity, behavioural inhibition, parental behaviour and trauma. Often times selective mutism involves mutism toward authority figures in life. Many cases of Selective Mutism are a combination of Temperamental and Genetic/Environmental factors from the parents.
Difficulties arising from Selective Mutism
- Academic impairment and difficulty as a result of lack of communication with teachers
- Difficulties in work settings with regards to communication and ability to complete tasks
- Social difficulties such as social isolation and bullying from students, or peers
Common symptoms of Selective Mutism
- Inability or difficulty to communicate in social situations
- Struggles with work or school due to speaking or communicative difficulties
- Inability or unwillingness to speak not attributable to lack of skill or intelligence
Treatments for Selective Mutism
Treatments for Selective Mutism vary but the most effective treatments are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy through exposure and Clinical Hypnosis through dealing with the root cause in the subconscious. Recent advances in Neurofeedback can train parts of the brain involved in inhibitions feeding the selective mutism.
Examples of who Can Benefit From Our Treatments
- Student having difficulty communicating or talking with teachers or fellow students resulting in academic difficulty
- Individual having difficulty working as a result of social anxiety or fear of being in social situations
- Company executive struggling to work as a result of a child moving away
- Student with dropping grades as a result of over-thinking or worrying
How We Can Help
In general, Anxiety Disorders are commonly found throughout the world and often the suffering individual will have difficulty trying to live a thriving and happy life. Fortunately, there are solutions! The most common and effective ways of treating and helping individuals with Anxiety Disorder are through Life Coaching, Functional Medicine, Biofeedback, and Psychotherapy. All have been proven to be effective solutions to distinguish and eliminate symptoms of Anxiety Disorders.