Adult Anxiety Disorders
During any given year, at least one in ten Canadians experiences clinically significant difficulty with anxiety. Over the course of a lifetime, one in four Canadians will experience a significant problem with anxiety. Some of the common anxiety problems include:
- Panic disorder - sudden and unexpected episodes of anxiety or bodily symptoms such as rapid heart rate, chest pain, stomach discomfort, difficulty breathing, lightheadedness or dizziness. The individual often fears and avoids situations where panic attacks or symptom episodes have occurred in the past.
- Social anxiety disorder or social phobia (or excessive shyness) - fears of embarrassment or humiliation in social situations.
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) - a tendency to worry excessively about a variety of different topics.
- Health anxiety - worries about having or developing a serious illness without clear cause for such worry.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) - problems with repetitive, unpleasant thoughts (such as thoughts of being dirty or contaminated, about making mistakes, or about harming someone unintentionally) and repetitive behaviors or rituals (such as excessive checking, cleaning, or counting).
- Post-traumatic stress disorder - difficulty with anxiety or other symptoms that occurs after direct or indirect exposure to an unusually traumatic event. The symptoms may occur long after or may persist for many years after the traumatic experience.
- Specific fears or phobias - such as fears of enclosed spaces, animals, medical or dental procedures, etc.
- Anxiety during the pregnancy and postpartum period. (Assessment and treatment of anxiety during the perinatal period is prioritized in our clinic)
Consultation is provided concerning assessment and treatment of the various anxiety disorders. Effective psychological treatments are available for all of the anxiety problems. Psychological treatments for anxiety are generally at least as effective as medication treatments. They also have the advantage that few individuals experience negative side effects that may occur with medications. The results also tend to be maintained long after the treatment is completed.
Description of Services and Treatment
Patients may be invited to attend a two-session large group while they are on the waiting list for more extensive services in our clinic. This two session group (entitled “Quick Start to Overcoming Anxiety”) provides information about our services, helps patients get started with a cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) approach to treatment, and provides information about additional self-help resources and community-based resources.
The patient assessment of anxiety takes place in a one-to-one meeting with a specialist in anxiety problems. Following this, the individual receives information about the assessment as well as recommendations and treatment options.
Psychological treatments, which are CBT in focus, are typically provided in a small group format although there is limited availability of individual treatment. We have group treatment programs for panic disorder, social anxiety, OCD, health anxiety, GAD, and for anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum. These groups range from 6-16 sessions.
Cognitive-behavior therapy treatment involves education about the problem, learning coping strategies, and practice applying the coping strategies in challenging real-life situations. Often a book or workbook is used as part of the treatment. There is no charge for the treatment but the individual may be asked to purchase a book or workbook.
Most group programs are offered in the daytime but some are offered in the evening. All assessment appointments and individual sessions are scheduled during regular office hours.
Referral from a family physician, other medical specialist, psychiatrist, psychologist, or another health care provider.
Links to other resources
Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba
Canadian Psychological Association fact sheets on effectiveness of psychological treatments: