Anxiety or panic or obsessions

  • Are you especially anxious, fearful or panicky?
  • Do you always worry too much?
  • Are you excessively fearful of things you know you shouldn’t be that afraid of, so that you go out of your way to avoid them?
  • Do you have obsessions or compulsions?

Responding to danger skillfully is probably the most basic survival skill. Fear is a gift that allows us to survive in an often dangerous world. But if you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you have fears that occur for no reason at all, or the fears occur out of all proportion to any realistic danger.

Your anxiety disorder can be classified based on what, if anything, triggers symptoms. The experience of anxiety occurs just as much in the body as in the mind. Your heart races, you become sweaty, tremble, short of breath, feel like you are choking, dizzy or lightheaded, or sick in your stomach.

In panic disorder, your anxiety occurs in almost explosive attacks (called “panic attacks”) that seem to occur out of the blue and repeatedly. If your anxiety is triggered by a specific situation or event, it might be agoraphobia (the fear of going to places where you feel that you might not be able to “escape”), social anxiety (fear of social or performance situations) or specific phobias (situations like flying, heights, insects, seeing blood and numerous others). You might have generalized anxiety if you seem to feel anxious, nervous and worried almost all of the time.

We all have occasional obsessions that are like worry, preoccupation or rumination. There are also obsessions that are extremely disturbing and anxiety-provoking that you try to control. These thoughts can feel like they are not part of your usual self or what you normally think about. Obsessions and compulsions can go hand in hand, and in OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) you may become a slave to rituals and compulsions that significantly interfere with your daily life.

  • Each individual with an anxiety disorder has unique characteristics and should be thoroughly assessed.
  • Every person suffering from an anxiety disorder would benefit from connecting with a skilled psychotherapist.

Blog posts on this topic

7 Signs of Unhealthy Anxiety

Anxiety is a natural response to the environment when there is real danger. When anxiety happens without any crisis or emergency, it can lead to much distress.  How do you know when anxiety may be unhealthy? Our PM clinician Trish … Continue reading →

The Writer’s License

Foreword by the Editor of the Psychotherapy Matters Blog: Dr. Steingart contributed this post after writing it for a course that he took at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies on Creative Non-Fiction taught by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall.  Psychiatrists rarely–if ever–admit to … Continue reading →