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Detailed Overview: 25-minute read

Anxiety Disorders

This broad overview about anxiety disorders covers the types of disorders, their diagnosis, and treatments.

topic:

Introduction

Basic facts about anxiety and anxiety disorders.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness. It might cause you to sweat, feel restless and tense, and have a rapid heartbeat. It can be a normal reaction to stress. For example, you might feel anxious when faced with a difficult problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. It can help you to cope. The anxiety may give you a boost of energy or help you focus. But for people with anxiety disorders, the fear is not temporary and can be overwhelming.

What are anxiety disorders?

Anxiety disorders are conditions in which you have anxiety that does not go away and can get worse over time. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as going out, interacting with friends or family, and sleeping.

How common are anxiety disorders in older adults?

Estimates of anxiety disorders vary, but may affect nearly 30 percent of adults at some point in their lives. For 1 in 4 people, anxiety can be significantly debilitating. The American Geriatric Society estimates that as many as 15% of older adults in community settings have anxiety disorders; with slightly more women than men affected.

What causes anxiety disorders?

The cause of anxiety is unknown. Factors such as genetics, brain biology and chemistry, stress, and your environment may play a role. Older adults may experience stressful life events that can lead to an anxiety disorder, or worsen a previous diagnosis. Example stressors include having a serious medical condition, or the loss of a spouse or other close relationship. Sometimes a serious fall can trigger fear of falling that is disabling. Medical conditions like chronic pain, heart issues, or breathing problems like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or congestive heart failure may lead to anxiety. Anxiety often goes hand-in-hand with depression as well; as well as other mental health conditions like obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Who is at risk for anxiety disorders?

The risk factors for the different types of anxiety disorders can vary. For example, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and phobias are more common in women, but social anxiety affects men and women equally. There are some general risk factors for most types of anxiety disorders, including:

  • Family history of anxiety or other mental disorders
  • Personal history of anxiety or major depression
  • Exposure to stressful and negative life or environmental events, such as traumatic events in early childhood or adulthood
  • Being female
  • Chronic medical illness
  • Certain personality traits, such as being shy or withdrawn when you are in new situations or meeting new people
  • Genetic factors

topic:

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms, and the different types of anxiety disorders.

What are the symptoms of anxiety disorders?

The different types of anxiety disorders can have different symptoms. But they all have a combination of:

  • Anxious thoughts or beliefs that are hard to control. They make you feel restless and tense and interfere with your daily life. They do not go away and can get worse over time
  • Physical symptoms, such as a pounding or rapid heartbeat, unexplained aches and pains, dizziness, and shortness of breath
  • Changes in behaviour, such as avoiding everyday activities you used to do

Anxiety symptoms can be produced or aggravated by:

  • Some physical health conditions, such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmia
  • Caffeine or other substances/medications

What are the types of anxiety disorders?

There are several types of anxiety disorders, including:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

People with GAD worry about ordinary issues such as health, money, work, and family. But their worries are excessive, and they have them almost every day for at least 6 months. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) usually involves a persistent feeling of anxiety or dread, which can interfere with daily life. It is not the same as occasionally worrying about things or experiencing anxiety due to stressful life events. People living with GAD experience frequent anxiety for months, if not years.

Symptoms of GAD include:

  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Being irritable
  • Having headaches, muscle aches, stomachaches, or unexplained pains
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep

Panic Disorder

People with panic disorder have frequent and unexpected panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear, discomfort, or sense of losing control even when there is no clear danger or trigger. The attacks come on quickly and can last several minutes or more. While panic attacks are very common, not everyone who experiences a panic attack will develop panic disorder.

During a panic attack, a person may experience:

  • Pounding or racing heart
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or tingling
  • Chest pain
  • Feelings of impending doom
  • Feelings of being out of control

People with panic disorder often worry about when the next attack will happen and actively try to prevent future attacks by avoiding places, situations, or behaviours they associate with panic attacks. Panic attacks can occur as frequently as several times a day or as rarely as a few times a year.

Agoraphobia

People with agoraphobia have an intense fear of two or more of the following situations:

  • Using public transportation
  • Being in open spaces
  • Being in enclosed spaces
  • Standing in line or being in a crowd
  • Being outside of the home alone

People with agoraphobia often avoid these situations, in part, because they think being able to leave might be difficult or impossible in the event they have panic-like reactions or other embarrassing symptoms. In the most severe form of agoraphobia, an individual can become housebound.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder (previously called social phobia) is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others in social or performance situations. They worry that actions or behaviours associated with their anxiety will be negatively evaluated by others, leading them to feel embarrassed. For people with social anxiety disorder, the fear of social situations may feel so intense that it seems beyond their control. This worry often causes people with social anxiety to avoid social situations.  For some people, social anxiety disorder can impact a range of situations, and may get in the way of going to work, attending social events, or doing everyday things.

People with social anxiety disorder may experience:

  • Blushing, sweating, or trembling
  • Pounding or racing heart
  • Stomach aches
  • Rigid body posture or speaking with an overly soft voice
  • Difficulty making eye contact or being around people they don’t know
  • Feelings of self-consciousness or fear that people will judge them negatively

Specific Phobias

A phobia is an intense fear of—or aversion to—specific objects or situations. Although it can be realistic to be anxious in some circumstances, the fear people with phobias feel is out of proportion to the actual danger caused by the situation or object.

People with a phobia:

  • May have an irrational or excessive worry about encountering the feared object or situation
  • Take active steps to avoid the feared object or situation
  • Experience immediate intense anxiety upon encountering the feared object or situation
  • Endure unavoidable objects and situations with intense anxiety

Some examples of specific phobias include the fear of:

  • Falling
  • Flying
  • Heights
  • Specific animals, such as spiders, dogs, or snakes
  • Receiving injections
  • Blood

Many older adults experience an intense fear of falling; which is one of the most common anxiety disorders in older adults.

Topic:

Diagnosis

Assessment and diagnosis.

How are anxiety disorders diagnosed?

To diagnose anxiety disorders, your health care provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history. You may also have a physical exam and lab tests to make sure that a different health problem is not the cause of your symptoms.

It’s always important to make sure there isn’t an underlying medical cause for anxiety symptoms before a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder is made.

People suspected of having an anxiety disorder may be assessed using a validated screening tool or specific screening questions, and validated severity-rating scales. Examples of these include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD):
    • Validated screening tool: Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale (GAD-7)
    • Example screening questions: Are you a worrier? Do you worry excessively about minor things? Have you ever found it hard to stop worrying?
  • Panic disorder
    • Validated screening tool: Panic Disorder Severity Scale (PDSS)
    • Example screening questions: Have you ever experienced a sudden attack of fear or panic in which you felt extremely uncomfortable? Have you ever worried that there might be something terribly wrong with you physically (i.e. heart attack, going crazy?) or have you ever had a panic or anxiety attack?
  • Social anxiety disorder:
    • Validated screening tool: 3-item Mini-Social Phobia Inventory (Mini-SPIN)
    • Example screening questions: Do you avoid social situations, or are you uncomfortable in social situations? Are you afraid of social situations, such as speaking, eating, or writing in front of others?
  • Specific phobia:
    • Validated screening tool: Specific Phobia Questionnaire (SPQ)
    • Example screening questions: Are there any specific things (i.e. heights, animals, closed places) that you fear or avoid? Do you have any special fears such as flying or spiders? Do you think that your fear is excessive?

After this type of initial assessment and screening, people who have had a positive screening result or who are suspected of having an anxiety disorder, should receive a timely, more comprehensive assessment. That will help to determine whether they do, in fact, have a specific anxiety disorder, the severity of their symptoms, whether they have any other conditions, and the impact on day-to-day function.

What else could be causing the anxiety?

Medical conditions, especially those that affect the hormones, heart, lungs, and brain, may cause anxiety symptoms and possibly lead to an anxiety disorder. For example, hyperthyroidism, anemia, breathing disorders, congestive heart failure and others may cause anxiety symptoms. Treatment of these underlying conditions will, most often, reduce anxiety symptoms.  

Drug or alcohol use may induce anxiety symptoms, either when a person is using the drug or experiencing withdrawal; for example, stimulants, including caffeine, illicit drugs such as cocaine, and prescription drugs that stimulate the central nervous system, such as Ritalin.

Other psychiatric disorders, such as depression or psychosis, OCD or PTSD may also result in anxiety symptoms.

What other conditions might be associated with anxiety disorders?

As noted above, anxiety often goes hand-in-hand with depression as well; as well as other mental health conditions like obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

While PTSD and OCD are no longer categorized as anxiety disorders, anxiety is a key feature of these disorders.

  • In PTSD, a person has experienced a traumatic event and has associated symptoms of re-experiencing the traumatic event through memories, nightmares, or flashbacks. They will typically try to avoid reminders of the event and often have symptoms like irritability, poor sleep, difficulty concentrating, and feeling on edge.
  • A person with OCD experiences obsessive thoughts, images, or urges that persistently enter the mind and trigger distress; as well as compulsions, which are recurrent behaviours or mental acts carried out to relieve the distress of the obsessions such as, repeated hand-washing until their skin becomes raw, checking doors over and over to make sure they’re locked, or silently repeating a word or phrase.

Topic:

Treatments

Non-drug and drug treatments.

What are the treatments for anxiety disorders?

Anxiety disorders are generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. There are many ways to treat anxiety, and you should work with a health care provider to choose the best treatment for you. In general, psychotherapy and medication are equally effective. Education about your disorder and information on self-materials such as books, websites, or apps may also be helpful.

Non-Medication Approaches

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of psychotherapy that is often used to treat anxiety disorders. CBT teaches you different ways of thinking and behaving. It can help you change how you react to the things that cause you to feel fear and anxiety. It may include exposure therapy. This focuses on having you confront your fears so that you will be able to do the things that you had been avoiding. It can be delivered as individual or group therapy for most anxiety disorders and with various methods such as self-help workbooks, internet or virtual programs, and more-or-less therapist contact. 

CBT is typically a relatively intensive, short-term, solution-focused approach; usually involving weekly contact for about 12 to 20 weeks, although there are shorter variations that also have been shown to be effective. It provides a person with skills to analyze some of the thoughts and bodily symptoms that drive the anxiety and the tools to help them gradually face their fears and decrease avoidance. In addition to this aspect of ‘facing your fears’ or ‘exposure-based treatment’, CBT teaches you to notice patterns of thinking that amplify anxiety and learn how to counter those thoughts. With practice, CBT helps you to gradually shift the way you think or react to the things that make you anxious. For example, CBT can help you become more comfortable being around other people if you have social anxiety, or gain mastery and control of your panic attacks so that you don’t avoid going out.

Different variations of CBT are available for each of the different anxiety disorders, and CBT is as effective as medications, and considered a ‘first-line’ treatment for anxiety disorders.

Stress Management Techniques

Stress management techniques, such as exercise, mindfulness, and meditation, also can reduce anxiety symptoms and enhance the effects of psychotherapy. You can learn more about how these techniques benefit your treatment by talking with a health care provider.

Self-Help

There are many self-help resources and internet-based tools to help manage anxiety. Virtual and in-person support groups are also available. Your healthcare provider can help connect you with local resources.

There are many excellent online resources and programs. You can download a list of education and self-help resources, including websites, apps, books, and workbooks, from the resources areas for this topic (below and on the main topic landing page).

Anxiety Canada offers self-help tools, resources, and programs to help people manage anxiety, including the MindShift Cognitive Behavioural Therapy App. Visit anxietycanada.com

BounceBack is a free skill-building program from the Canadian Mental Health Association to help adults and youth 15+ to manage low mood, mild to moderate depression, anxiety, stress or worry. The programs are delivered online or over the phone with a coach. You will get access to tools to support you on a path to mental wellness. It is available in all provinces and territories. Visit bounceback.cmha.ca.

Wellness Together Canada is a free mental health and substance use resource that provides on-demand support; from basic wellness information, to one-on-one sessions with a counsellor, to participating in a community of support. Visit wellnesstogether.ca

Medication

Medication does not cure anxiety disorders but can help relieve symptoms. Health care providers, such as a psychiatrist or primary care provider, can prescribe medication for anxiety. The most common classes of medications used to treat anxiety disorders are antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications (such as benzodiazepines), and gabapentinoids such as pregabalin.

Some types of medicines may work better for specific types of anxiety disorders. You should work closely with your health care provider to identify which medicine is best for you. You may need to try more than one medicine before you can find the right one.

Antidepressants

Antidepressants are used to treat depression, but they can also be helpful for treating anxiety disorders. They may help improve the way your brain uses certain chemicals that control mood or stress. You may need to try several different antidepressant medicines before finding the one that improves your symptoms and has manageable side effects.

Common medications for anxiety disorders include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (or SNRIs). While these medications are also known as “antidepressants,” they treat many different conditions, including anxiety disorders. In general, it is best to ‘start low and go slow’ with the dose of the medication; and know that your response to the medication may take a while, sometimes taking 2 to 8 weeks for the start of symptom relief and up to 12 weeks or more for the medication to reach its full effect. 

Because antidepressants can take several weeks to start working, it’s important to give the medication a chance before reaching a conclusion about its effectiveness. If you begin taking antidepressants, do not stop taking them without the help of a health care provider. Your provider can help you slowly and safely decrease your dose. Stopping them abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms.

With medication, longer-term therapy has been found to result in continued improvement in symptoms and helps to prevent relapse. For most people, medication therapy should be continued for 12-24 months, depending on effectiveness and side effects.

Side Effects

As with any medication, there are risks and benefits, and you should discuss these with your healthcare provider. It’s very important to discuss potential adverse effects of the various types of medications with your healthcare team. In addition, if you do decide to start treatment with a medication, it’s important not to abruptly stop medications; so, talk to your healthcare provider about how to taper off any medications if you do decide to discontinue them.

In some cases, people may experience worsening anxiety or even increased suicidal thoughts or behaviour when taking antidepressant medications, especially in the first few weeks after starting or when the dose is changed. Because of this, people of all ages taking antidepressants should be watched closely, especially during the first few weeks of treatment. More common side effects include headache, irritability/restlessness, nausea, and diarrhea. The most bothersome side effects according to patient surveys include sexual dysfunction, drowsiness, fatigue, and weight gain. Most side effects tend to occur during the first week or two of treatment as your body gets used to the new medication; many will resolve in that time, but some – like sexual side effects or weight gain – may persist throughout treatment.

Anti-Anxiety Medications

Anti-anxiety medications can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks, or extreme fear and worry. The most common anti-anxiety medications are called benzodiazepines. Although benzodiazepines are sometimes used as treatments for generalized anxiety disorder, they have both benefits and drawbacks.

Benzodiazepines are effective in relieving anxiety and take effect more quickly than antidepressant medications. However, some people build up a tolerance to these medications and need higher and higher doses to get the same effect. Some people even become dependent on them.

To avoid these problems, health care providers usually prescribe benzodiazepines for short periods of time.

If people suddenly stop taking benzodiazepines, they may have withdrawal symptoms, or their anxiety may return. Therefore, benzodiazepines should be tapered off slowly. Your provider can help you slowly and safely decrease your dose.

Choosing the Right Medication

Some types of drugs may work better for specific types of anxiety disorders, so people should work closely with a health care provider to identify which medication is best for them. Certain substances such as caffeine, some over-the-counter cold medicines, illicit drugs, and herbal supplements may aggravate the symptoms of anxiety disorders or interact with prescribed medication. People should talk with a health care provider, so they can learn which substances are safe and which to avoid.

Choosing the right medication, medication dose, and treatment plan should be done under an expert’s care and should be based on a person’s needs and their medical situation. You and your provider may try several medicines before finding the right one.

Topic:

Other Info

Prognosis, what to ask your health care provider, follow-up, and more.

What type of follow-up can I expect?

Stepped-Care Approach Your treatment plan should be based on a stepped-care approach. What this means, is that your health care professional should offer you the most appropriate treatment option first. If your symptoms don’t improve, you should be offered the next most appropriate treatment option.

Monitoring – After you start treatment for your anxiety disorder, your health care professional should follow up with you to check how you are responding to the treatment. For psychotherapy, they should check in with you about how the treatment is working at every session. For medication, they should check how the treatment is working every week or two when the medication is started and if the dosage changes, and at least every month until your condition is stable. They should also monitor for side effects.

Specialized Expertise – If your anxiety disorder is not getting better after trying CBT or medication, your health care professional should consult with or refer you to another health care professional with specialized expertise in anxiety disorders. This person should reassess you and offer the most appropriate treatment option that takes into account your individual needs and preferences. 

Relapse Prevention – Your health care team should give you information and education about how to prevent and manage a relapse. They should talk with you about: 

  • The nature of anxiety disorders
  • What to expect when you’re in recovery and no longer in treatment
  • When to be concerned and what to do
  • When to follow up with your health care team
  • What strategies to use to manage your symptoms
  • How to access mental health services if you need more support. 

When should I feel better? Why might I be getting worse?

As mentioned above, medication treatment takes about 2-8 weeks before noticing any type of symptom relief, with full response taking up to 12 weeks or more. Medications should be continued for at least 12-24 months for most patients.

For a patient undergoing psychotherapy like CBT, the treatment schedule is typically weekly contact with a therapist for about 12-20 weeks, although there are other shorter approaches. The timing for improvement varies quite a bit, with some people improving relatively quickly within 4-6 sessions, while others may need more than 20 sessions.

How can I prevent this condition?

There is surprisingly little scientific information regarding the prevention of anxiety disorders in older adults. But here are a few suggestions based on some of the controllable risk factors for anxiety and expert consensus.

  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, some over-the-counter remedies (such as decongestants that contain ingredients like ephedrine).
  • Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep, as there are some studies that show a relationship between insomnia/sleeplessness and anxiety. Use good sleep hygiene practices (see section on sleep in the Promoting Brain Health topic detailed overview).
  • Reduce stress and consider stress management techniques like mindfulness, meditation, breathing exercise, or others.
  • Manage any chronic medical conditions as best as possible.
  • Be physically active (see section in the Promoting Brain Health topic detailed overview).

What should I ask my health care provider?

An excellent resource for ideas on what to ask your healthcare provider is the Ontario Health Quality Standards patient guide on anxiety disorders.  

  • Questions to ask about getting help or a diagnosis
    • How do we figure out if I have an anxiety disorder?
    • Do I have an anxiety disorder? If yes, what kind? 
    • Will I get better?
  • Questions to ask about treatment options
    • What education or self-help resources, such as workbooks or websites, can help me manage my anxiety?
    • What support groups are available near me?
    • Is CBT a good choice for me? 
    • Who provides CBT? What kind of training do they have? How can I find a health care provider who is a good fit for me?
    • Will I have to pay for treatment? Are there free or low-cost options?
    • What medication might be a good choice for me?
    • What are the side effects of this medication?
    • If I’m feeling better, can I stop taking the medication?
    • How long will it take before I feel better? What should I do if I don’t feel better or my symptoms get worse?
  • Questions about follow-up care
    • What should I expect as things get better?
    • What can I do to prevent my symptoms from getting unmanageable again?
    • How often do I need to see my health care provider if I’m doing well?
    • If symptoms return, can I get care right away, or will I be on a wait list?

Ontario Health tip: Write down notes

It can help to take notes during the visit. If it’s hard for you to get down all the details, ask a friend or family member to take notes for you. That way, you can focus on the conversation with your health care provider and go back to the notes later.

Where can I get help? Where can my family get support?

Contact your family doctor or nurse practitioner.

If you are in crisis and need immediate help (for example, you are feeling suicidal or that you cannot manage anymore), call 9-1-1, a crisis hotline, or go to the nearest urgent care, hospital, or emergency room.

Wellness Together Canada is a free mental health and substance use resource that provides on-demand support; from basic wellness information, to one-on-one sessions with a counsellor, to participating in a community of support. wellnesstogether.ca

If you are in Ontario, you can call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or ConnexOntario: 1-866-531-2600. You can also contact Distress and Crisis Ontario. For support over text, text SUPPORT to 258258 or find a number for a crisis centre or chat through their website.

The government of Ontario also has a new simplified web page at ontario.ca/health with services to help connect to care 24/7 like their Health811 service where you can talk to a registered nurse – day or night – for free, secure and confidential health advice. Just call 811.

211 is a great resource for information about government and community-based social services, as well as some non-clinical health services. It’s a free and confidential service operating in pretty much every province and territory, and serving people in more than 150 languages, by phone, chat, text, and web. Dial 2-1-1 or go to 211.ca. If you are in Ontario, you can visit 211 Ontario.

There are other helpful websites, books, and services in the curated resources section.

Where can I find out more information?

There are other helpful websites, books, and services in the curated resources section below and on the main topic landing page.

Topic:

Summary

Putting it all together.

Key points from this detailed overview

  • Anxiety is common in people of all ages, and for one in four people, anxiety is debilitating. It’s also common for people to have more than one anxiety disorder or anxiety and depression at the same time. They are the most common mental health problem in women and second only to substance use disorders in men.
  • Symptoms of anxiety often include muscle tension, restlessness, fatigue, dizziness, heart palpitations, sweating, irritability, headaches, unexplained pains, sleep issues or problems with concentration. The symptoms of an anxiety disorder get severe enough that they interfere with your day-to-day function and activities.
  • There are several different types of anxiety disorders. These include:
    • specific phobias
    • social anxiety disorder
    • generalized anxiety disorder
    • panic disorder
    • agoraphobia
  • A comprehensive assessment will involve screening for anxiety and related symptoms, potentially using validated screening tools such as the GAD-7 or others. A medical and psychiatric history and physical exam are important to rule out medical causes of the anxiety. Medications and substance use can also cause anxiety symptoms. Your health care provider may send you for some blood tests to assess for medical causes as well.
  • Diagnosis is based on ruling out other causes, and more in-depth questioning about specific anxiety disorder symptoms and how much they are interfering with your day-to-day activities and function.
  • Treatment options for anxiety disorders include medication and non-medication treatments. Education about the disorder and treatment options is important; information about available self-help resources such as books, websites, and apps may also be helpful. One psychological approach, cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, shows good results for the treatment of anxiety disorders; and, in general, psychotherapy and medications have about equal results.
  • Follow up is important to make sure you are getting better with the treatment, managing any side effects, and preventing recurrence.

About this page

This page was developed by the Division of e-Learning Innovation team and Dr. Anthony J. Levinson, MD, FRCPC (Psychiatry). Dr. Levinson is a psychiatrist and professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behaviour Neurosciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University. He is the Director of the Division of e-Learning Innovation, as well as the John Evans Chair in Health Sciences Educational Research at McMaster. He practices Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, with a special focus on dementia and neuropsychiatry. He is also the co-developer of the iGeriCare.ca dementia care partner resource, and one of the co-leads for the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal. He and his team are passionate about developing high-quality digital content to improve people's understanding about health. By the way, no computer-generated content was used on this page. Specifically, a real human (me) wrote and edited this page without the help of generative AI like ChatGPT or Bing's new AI or otherwise.

Dr. Levinson receives funding from McMaster University as part of his research chair. He has also received several grants for his work, from not-for-profit granting agencies. He has no conflicts of interest with respect to the pharmaceutical industry; and there were no funds from industry used in the development of this website.

February 12, 2023

Content was written and adapted based on credible, high-quality, non-biased sources such as MedlinePlus, the National Institutes for Mental Health, the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal, the American Psychiatric Association, the Cochrane Library, the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH) and others. See References noted above as well.

Funding was provided by the Labarge Optimal Aging Initiative and in-kind contributions from McMaster University and CAMH. There was no industry funding for this content.

Curated Resources

Helpful Links and Resources

Expert-selected websites and documents related to anxiety disorders.

Self-Help and Educational Resources Handout

This handout highlights useful links, apps, self-help books, and other resources.

View Resource

Health Quality Ontario's Patient Guide for Anxiety Disorders

Find suggestions on what to discuss with your health care providers to help you to receive high-quality care.

View Resource

Anxiety Canada

Useful free resources such as the MindShift CBT app and My Anxiety Plans (MAPS).

View Resource

BounceBack

BounceBack® is a free program from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) that helps you build skills to improve your mental health.

View Resource

Find your CAMH

Find Canadian Mental Health Association in your area.

View Resource
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References

Evidence-based references that informed this topic.

About this Topic

This content was developed by the Division of e-Learning Innovation in the Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University. It was authored, reviewed, and assessed for accuracy by psychiatrist Dr. Anthony J. Levinson from McMaster. There are no conflicts of interest.

The development process included a review of the Canadian Clinical Practice Guidelines for Management of Anxiety, Posttraumatic Stress and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders and Health Quality Ontario’s Patient Guide on Anxiety Disorders.

If you have questions or comments related to this resource, please contact us at info@healthhq.ca.

Core References

  1. Health Quality Ontario. Anxiety Disorders: Suggestions on What to Discuss with Your Health Care Providers to Help You Receive High-Quality Care; 2020. Accessed November 29, 2022. https://www.hqontario.ca/Portals/0/documents/evidence/quality-standards/qs-anxiety-disorders-patient-guide-en.pdf
  2. Health Quality Ontario. Anxiety Disorders: Care in All Settings; 2020. Accessed November 29, 2022. https://hqontario.ca/Portals/0/documents/evidence/quality-standards/qs-anxiety-disorders-quality-standard-en.pdf
  3. Katzman MA, Bleau P, Blier P, Chokka P, Kjernisted K, van Ameringen M. Canadian clinical practice guidelines for the management of anxiety, posttraumatic stress and obsessive-compulsive disorders. BMC Psychiatry. 2014;14(Suppl 1):S1. doi:10.1186/1471-244X-14-S1-S1
  4. Rector NA, Bourdeau D, Kitchen K, Joseph-Massiah L. Anxiety Disorders: an information guide: a guide for people with anxiety and their families; 2005. Accessed November 29, 2022. https://www.camh.ca/-/media/files/guides-and-publications/anxiety-guide-en.pdf
  5. MedlinePlus [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); [updated 2020 Jun 24]. Anxiety; [updated 2020 May 22; cited 2023 Feb 12]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/anxiety.html
  6. National Institute of Mental Health (April, 2022). Anxiety Disorders. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health. Retrieved February 12, 2023, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders
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