According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada, one in every four Canadians will have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at least once in their lifetime. Anxiety disorders are characterized by overwhelming feelings of fear, usually resulting in panic attacks.
Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician based in the city of Vancouver, is highly adept in diagnosing/treating different types of anxiety disorders, including:
• Panic disorders
• Social phobias
• Generalized anxiety disorder
• Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
• Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
While these disorders have similar symptoms, they all have different definitions.
Panic disorders usually strike without warning and are accompanied by spontaneous panic attacks. Due to the fear of future attacks, individuals with panic disorders will often retreat and avoid going place over time. Signs and symptoms of a panic attack include (but are not limited to) heart palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, and nausea and/or vomiting.
If you have an intense fear certain places (i.e. shopping malls, public transportation, and elevators), you may have agoraphobia. Similar to panic disorders, individuals with agoraphobia will want to retreat and stay indoors in effort to avoid the places or things they fear the most. While panic attacks are often associated with agoraphobia, many individuals will have had no prior history of panic attacks or other panic-related disorders.
Individuals with social phobias (also known as social anxiety disorder) will often find it difficult to be out in public and will shy away from populated places, usually due to the fear of humiliation. Individuals with social phobias can fear speaking in public, being seen in public, or even being around friends. In severe cases, persons with social phobias will avoid all types of social interaction.
Generalized Anxiety Disorders
Individuals with generalized anxiety disorders often fear the worst and are in a constant state of worry, even when there is no reason to be fearful. The exact cause of generalized anxiety disorders is unknown, but it is suspected that genetics may play a role.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Individuals with OCD will experience certain thoughts and urges to perform repetitive or ritual-like behaviour, also known as compulsions (i.e. hoarding, constant hand washing, extreme organization.) By performing these compulsions, an individual with OCD will feel better temporarily. However, they will then rely on said compulsions which will only worsen the condition and result in further anxiety.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD occurs as a result of a traumatic event – either by witnessing a traumatic event or having firsthand experience of a traumatic event; such as car accidents, rape, natural disasters, and military combat. Individuals with PTSD will experience panic attacks, recurring flashbacks, and have difficulty sleeping.
If you or someone you know is dealing with an anxiety disorder, do not hesitate in reaching out to a physician. Dr. Ali Ghahary is available to see patients on a walk-in basis at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby. Additionally, you can also reach out to the Canadian Mental Health Association for more resources.