Understanding and Finding Support for Anxiety

Learn what anxiety is, including its different types, signs and symptoms, causes and risk factors, diagnosis and treatment options.

pandemic, especially for many working and stay-at-home moms and women alike. Perhaps you experienced Zoom calls with Mommy groups that may have left you or someone you know with sweaty palms, truncated breathing, and feelings of uneasiness because the collective anxiety was too thick to handle. Additionally, conversations with family and friends likely went from routine check-ins to a deep concern for almost everything. 

The truth is, anxiety creeps in when you least expect it and can turn your world upside down. Even just talking about anxiety might spark anxious feelings now. And why is it that fear seems to lead the way? We have good news — it doesn’t have to. 

As you read through this article, take your time as you begin to understand anxiety, including its different types, signs and symptoms, causes and risk factors, diagnosis and treatment options. We'll also explain how it impacts different ages and gender. 

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a natural response to stress or perceived danger. Many different things can trigger anxiety of all forms; working from home, making bill payments, ensuring your children’s safety during the pandemic, engaging in social situations, etc.

In healthy amounts, anxiety can help us accomplish tasks or escape dangerous situations. In these cases, the feeling of anxiety is short-lived and manageable. An anxiety disorder occurs when anxiety becomes debilitating, causing persistent worrying, panic attacks, or other health issues. If these anxiety symptoms continue for longer than six months, this is often a sign of an anxiety disorder. If this sounds familiar to you, you are not alone.

Types of anxiety 

There are many forms of anxiety disorders, with more severe cases leading to chronic stress and depression. It is important to speak with a certified doctor or practitioner about your symptoms to learn as much as possible about the specific ways your anxiety affects you. 

Disorders related to anxiety:

  • Panic disorder
  • Phobia
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Illness anxiety disorder

Gender and age differences 

Anxiety symptoms in women are reportedly higher than in men, especially those with children. A report by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) led by Dr. Hayley Hamilton (2020) suggested that sending kids back to school increased anxiety levels among women. Fears of contracting COVID-19 also contributed to anxiety among both women and men. 

Children account for one in eight suffering from anxiety. Specific sensitivity is required when diagnosing and treating these cases, especially since their triggers (e.g. familial conflict or an upcoming quiz) and signs (e.g. out-of-control outbursts) are different from adults. 

Signs and symptoms 

Anxiety signs and symptoms can be experienced physically or psychologically and often accompany a panic attack. Some signs and symptoms are similar to other emotional disorders (like depression), which is why it's important to discuss these experiences with a trained professional so you or someone you know can take action.

Common symptoms of anxiety:

  • Being irritable
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Having muscle tension
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
  • Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank
  • Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep

Common symptoms of acute anxiety:

  • Pounding heart
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating or chills
  • Shaking
  • Chest tightness
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Dry mouth
  • Faint

Causes and risk factors 

Anxiety is often caused by biopsychosocial factors, as well as challenging life experiences, come factors include: 

  • Alcohol
  • Medications 
  • Family history 
  • Chronic illness
  • Illegal substances 
  • Childhood development 
  • Traumatic or stressful life events 
  • Other mental health disorders

Diagnosis and treatments 

Managing anxiety and getting an early anxiety diagnosis can help prevent your symptoms from getting worse. Diagnosis often involves a full, lengthy, and non-invasive process of physical examinations, mental health evaluations, and surveys. Getting an anxiety diagnosis is important as it leads you to proper treatment of symptoms to manage life with anxiety. Possible treatments include psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. See below for a list of common treatments and preventative strategies. 

Please note: Anxiety and depression are commonly experienced together, whereby anxiety can trigger a depressive episode. 

Suggested Treatments for Anxiety:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication

Anxiety Prevention:

  • Exercise
  • Avoid coffee
  • Quit smoking 
  • Mindfulness 
  • Nutrition and diet
  • Building social supports 
  • Avoid alcohol consumption
  • Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule
  • Medication prescribed by a doctor 
  • Making time for fun/relaxing activities

Find support for anxiety-related mental health concerns with Inkblot Therapy

If you or someone you know notices signs and symptoms of anxiety, know that support is available and accessible and that you are not alone. Inkblot removes barriers to accessing the right support and matches you with qualified mental health practitioners based on your unique needs and preferences. All activity, including confidential video/voice sessions, booking and payment, happens on the Inkblot Therapy platform for convenience and maximum security and confidentiality. Inkblot's unique matching system directs you to a provider selection page where matches will be ranked based on your symptoms, stressors, language, religion and more.

Inkblot Therapy