What is normal anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, fear, or apprehension. Everyone experiences anxiety. It’s typical for people to feel anxious if they are in a dangerous situation, or before certain events such as public speaking, or an interview. Anxiety can help keep us safe and improve motivation and preparation.

Anxiety affects our feelings, thoughts, body, and behaviors resulting in physical and emotional symptoms. A specific situation or fear can cause some or all of these symptoms for a short time. When the situation passes, the symptoms usually go away.

Emotional symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Restlessness, irritability, or feeling on edge or keyed up.
  • Worrying too much.
  • Fearing that something bad is going to happen, feeling doomed. (i.e. “What if…”, “Something terrible will happen”, “Nothing ever works out…I’m a failure.”)

Physical symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Trembling, twitching, or shaking.
  • Feeling of fullness in the throat or chest.
  • Breathlessness or rapid heartbeat.
  • Light-headednessor dizziness.
  • Sweating or cold, clammy hands.
  • Feeling jumpy.
  • Muscle tension, aches, or soreness (myalgias).
  • Extreme tiredness.
  • Sleep problems include the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, early waking, or restlessness (not feeling rested when you wake up).

Anxiety affects the part of the brain that helps control how you communicate and can cause an inability to concentrate. Maintaining relationships may be difficult because it is harder to express yourself or function effectively.

What is an anxiety disorder?

Anxiety that is persistent, seems uncontrollable, and overwhelming may be an anxiety disorder such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, etc. Anxiety affects our thoughts, our feelings, and our actions. It becomes problematic when daily living activities (ie. working, self-care, socializing etc.) are negatively impacted.

What are the warning signs of an anxiety problem?

  • Is anxiety limiting your involvement in life?
  • Are you avoiding everyday situations?
  • Do you feel worried or tense most of the time?
  • Do you feel your heart racing, tightness of chest, shortness of breath, butterflies in your stomach, dizziness, or fatigue?
  • Do you often think “I can’t do this,” “I can’t breathe,” “I’m going to die,” or “I’m trapped” etc?
  • Do you feel fearful, on edge, uneasy, like you’re losing control.

These are warning signs that you may be experiencing anxiety.

What can I do about my anxiety?

  • Talk to a family member or a friend you can trust.
  • Talk to a counsellor.
  • Talk to a doctor.
  • Attend a local peer support group.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Find ways to relax (deep breathing, visualization, etc.).
  • Be mindful.
  • Meditate.
  • Journal.
  • Do something you enjoy.
  • Reduce caffeine and/or alcohol intake.
  • Improve time management skills.

Services related to this information:

  • Doorways: rapid ‘one session at a time’ counselling services.
  • Bridge the gapp
    Newfoundland and Labrador’s ‘go-to’ website for mental health information. Bridge the gapp offers self-help resources, links to local services, and invites people to share their personal stories. Bridge the gapp is free of cost and available to every resident in the province. The site is divided into adult and youth sections, however many services are appropriate for both.
  • Mental health and addictions services
  • 811 HealthLine (Newfoundland & Labrador) – Call 811 or 1-888-709-2929 / TTY 1-888-709-3555
    • 811 is free and confidential. 811 is available 24/7 and can provide support with mental health and addictions issues and more.
    • Services formerly offered by the Provincial Mental Health Crisis Line are now offered by 811. Call 811 to speak with a registered nurse who is also a trained crisis intervener.
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Last updated: 2024-01-29