Mental Health South Delta

The Delta Division of Family Practice represents family physicians in the communities of Ladner and Tsawwassen.

Anxiety Awareness

Anxiety is a periodic feeling of worry, nervousness or unease and is a normal reaction to some experiences.  An anxiety disorder, however, is diagnosed when people experience various symptoms of anxiety that create significant distress and some degree of functional impairment in their daily lives, including how they think, feel and act.

What are anxiety disorders?

A phobia is an intense fear around a specific thing like an object, animal, or situation. Most of us are scared of something, but these feelings don’t disrupt our lives. With phobias, people change the way they live in order to avoid the feared object or situation.

Panic disorder involves repeated and unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is a feeling of sudden and intense fear that lasts for a short period of time. It causes a lot of physical feelings like a racing heart, shortness of breath, or nausea. Panic attacks can be a normal reaction to a stressful situation, or a part of other anxiety disorders. With panic disorder, panic attacks seem to happen for no reason. People who experience panic disorder fear more panic attacks and may worry that something bad will happen as a result of the panic attack. Some people change their routine to avoid triggering more panic attacks.

Agoraphobia is fear of being in a situation where a person can’t escape or find help if they experience a panic attack or other feelings of anxiety. A person with agoraphobia may avoid public places or even avoid leaving their homes.

Social anxiety disorder involves intense fear of being embarrassed or evaluated negatively by others. As a result, people avoid social situations. This is more than shyness. It can have a big impact on work or school performance and relationships.

Generalized anxiety disorder is excessive worry around a number of everyday problems for more than six months. This anxiety is often far greater than expected—for example, intense anxiety over a minor concern. Many people experience physical symptoms too, including muscle tension and sleep problems.

Some mental illnesses are no longer classified as anxiety disorders, though anxiety or fear is a major part of the illnesses.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is made up of unwanted thoughts, images, or urges that cause anxiety (obsessions) or repeated actions meant to reduce that anxiety (compulsions). Obsessions or compulsions usually take a lot of time and cause a lot of distress.

Post-traumatic stress disorder can occur after a very scary or traumatic event, such as abuse, an accident, or a natural disaster. Symptoms of PTSD include reliving the event through nightmares or flashbacks, avoiding reminders of the traumatic event, and feeling unsafe in the world, even when a person isn’t in danger.

What are the symptoms of an anxiety disorder?

  • Panic, fear, and uneasiness

  • Sleep problems

  • Not being able to stay calm and still

  • Cold, sweaty, numb or tingling hands or feet

  • Shortness of breath

  • Heart palpitations

  • Dry mouth

  • Nausea

  • Tense muscles

  • Dizziness

Who Do Anxiety Disorders affect?

Anxiety disorders can affect anyone at any age, and they are the most common mental health problem. Sometimes, anxiety disorders are triggered by a specific event or stressful life experience, but for some there just doesn’t seem to be a specific reason.

Resources For Those Experiencing Anxiety

Child and Youth Anxiety Resources: Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health problems for children and youth.  In 2009, 4% of youth (12 to 19 years) and 5.8% of young adults (20 to 29 years) in Canada were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. These rates were higher among young women and in Aboriginal populations.

Adult Anxiety Resources: An estimated 3 million Canadians (6%) aged 18 years or older reported that they had a mood and/or anxiety disorder.

Where to get help

Kids Help Phone – 1 800 668 6868 (Phone), Live Chat (online chat counselling) – visit

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre

Depression Awarenes - Mental Health Delta Division

Mental Health Delta Division

Please visit out contact resource page for a full list of help lines, programs and websites.