Deep breath in… deep breath out… in, out, in, out… Johnny has learned to control his anxiety disorder with breathing techniques and self-monitoring. He knows he’s not like other people. Most people get nervous before an important exam, a big date, soccer tryouts… Maybe they’ll have sweaty palms, butterflies in the stomach or a quick heartbeat. Those feelings of anxiousness are normal.
What Johnny experiences differs dramatically from normal feelings of nervousness. His anxiety comes without warning and usually for no reason. “I can be sitting doing homework and I’ll feel it happening. The shaking, and the breathing, and the sweats, and the heart pounding, and the pain in the chest – I feel like I’m having a heart attack or something. But I never do…”
Symptoms of anxiety disorders can make the simplest of life’s routines unbearably uncomfortable. Fortunately Johnny sought help. Never mind the reactions of his friends or family. He had hopes that he could be treated. And he was right.
“Once you acknowledge the truth of a situation, you can fix it in place, understand the dimension of it and see how much possibility there is beyond it” – Michael J. Fox
Anxiety disorders are very commonly experienced at the same time as depression. Much like “the chicken and the egg,” it is often difficult to differentiate between which one came first.
SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER
Social Anxiety Disorder is the third most common psychiatric disorder and is a treatable medical illness. Exact cause is unknown; may be a chemical imbalance in the area of the brain that regulates thinking and mood.
- fear of going to social gatherings
- fear of meeting new people (I might say or do something stupid.)
- fear of being judged by others
Often accompanied by physical symptoms such as: blushing, stammering, blocked speech, sweating, nausea or upset stomach, heart pounding or racing, dry mouth, panic attacks
GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER
This medical illness affecting 1.5 million Canadians is not something you can control on your own but is treatable. Women are more at risk than men and the incidence increases with age. Causes include personal history of depression, drug or alcohol abuse, family history of depression and other anxiety disorders.
- person worries so much, about so many different things, that they begin to feel anxious all the time
- everyday problems become a source of constant anxiety and worry takes over their lives
- person is usually pessimistic and expects the worst about subjects such as: money, health, family, and work – even when there are no signs of trouble
Often accompanied by physical symptoms such as severe muscle tension in neck, back &/or shoulders, trembling or twitching, headaches, irritability, sweating or hot flashes and trouble concentrating.
Women are more likely to develop this treatable medical illness that can be a disorder on its own or may accompany depression. 4% of the population experience a panic attack in their lifetime – this is not panic disorder. The exact cause is still a mystery but research suggests it may be a chemical imbalance in the area of the brain responsible for our ability to respond to perceived dangers, known as the “fight or flight” response. If left untreated it can develop into a serious anxiety disorder causing the person to be unable to perform normal daily activities.
- Onset in late adolescence or early adulthood
- a sudden and unexpected episode of intense and overwhelming fear that has a distinct beginning and end point
- fear is accompanied by symptoms that often mimic heart attacks or being suffocated
- feel like you must flee or escape
- following a panic attack, the person often feels as if they are “going crazy” or having a “nervous breakdown”
A person with Panic Disorder will experience repeated panic attacks that are accompanied by several of the following physical symptoms: chest pain, pressure or discomfort, heart palpitations or rapid heart beat, difficulty breathing or catching your breath, a choking sensation or lump in the throat, excessive sweating; light-headedness or dizziness, tingling or numbness in parts of the body, chills or hot flashes, shaking or trembling, feeling of “unreality” or of being detached from the body.
OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER (OCD)
OCD is no longer categorized under “Anxiety Disorders” in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, however, it still falls under a broader category as one of the “neurotic, stress-related, and somatoform disorders” (DSM-V, 2013). Usually first occurs in a person’s teen or early adult years but can occur much earlier. This mental illness affects men and women equally. One person in forty suffers from OCD. The exact cause is unknown but research suggests it may be related to a shortage of serotonin (a chemical in the brain that transmits signals between brain cells). Genetic factors may also play a role. OCD will not go away by itself without proper medical treatment.
CHARACTERIZED BY: (two-part medical illness)
- Obsessions: worrying excessively about something which in turn causes a great deal of anxiety or distress to the person (e.g. persistent fears of contamination by dirt or germs; thoughts of being responsible for harm to one’s self or others, etc.)
- Compulsions: ritual or routines that people with OCD are compelled to do, to help control the anxiety caused by the obsession (e.g. repeated washing of hands; things must always be placed precisely.
POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)
PTSD is no longer under the Anxiety Disorders category in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V, 2013). It is now included in the new category “Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders”. In any given year, 5% of the population will suffer from PTSD, which can be caused by events such as : natural disasters (flood, tornado, hurricane), accidents (car, plane, boat, train, sports), physical attacks (assault, rape) and military combat.
- the reaction to the traumatic event causes intense fear, helplessness or horror.
- a continual re-experience of the traumatic event over and over again, sometimes for months or years
- often have flashbacks or recurring nightmares
- may have problems sleeping or be “overly” alert, anticipating another traumatic event
Certain clinics do accept clients that are not registered or do not have a family doctor. To find a clinic near you, click here.
Mental Health Estrie offers support groups for family and friends who have a loved one coping with a mental illness. For more information, click here.
Mental Health Estrie offers support groups for individuals coping with a lived experience of mental illness. For more information, click here.
Organizations and Resources Available
The following is a list of mental health resources in and outside of the Estrie region. Please call ahead to confirm the availability of bilingual services.
JEVI Centre de prevention du suicide – Estrie
120, 11e Avenue Nord, Sherbrooke QC, J1E 2T8
Line of Action: 1-866-APPELLE (277-3553)
Phone (Administrative): 819-564-7349
JEVI is a community organization whose aim is to prevent suicide and promote well-being in the Eastern Townships population. From 1986 to 2000, JEVI offered services to individuals under the age of 25, their parents and close friends and to the professionals working with youth.
Since June 2000, JEVI has been acknowledged as the Suicide Prevention Center for the Eastern Townships region by the Régie régionale de la santé et des services sociaux de l’Estrie. Consequently, services were adapted or developed in order to adequately respond to the needs of the general population of the Eastern Townships region (youth, adults and the elderly).
JEVI offers a complete line of services in promotion, prevention, intervention and postvention actions associated with suicide prevention.
Mood Disorders Canada Online Discussion Forum
MDSC provides a safe, supportive virtual place to discuss mental illness in our online Discussion Forum. With over 29,000 posts and more than 1,900 discussion threads in operation, if you need somewhere to look for support and guidance this is a great first step! We encourage you to Visit our Forum.
CHUS (Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke)
Address: 3001 12e Ave N, Sherbrooke, QC, J1H 5N4
Addictions/dependencies & mental disorders; help for consumers and family members; bilingual services.
Provincial suicide crisis line
Phone: 1-866-APPELLE (277-3553)
Quebec National Crisis Line
HeretoHelp: Mental health and substance use information
HeretoHelp is a project of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information.
We are a group of seven leading mental health and addictions non-profit agencies. Since 2003, we’ve been working together to help people live well and better prevent and manage mental health and substance use problems. You can learn more about our vision here.
BC Partners work is funded by BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority. We also receive some additional support from the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Thanks also to our corporate sponsors for helping to fund our translated resources.
Address: 925 rue Du Conseil, Sherbrooke QC, J1G 1L6
We focus on helping individuals suffering from phobias, or intense fears (panic disorder) that interfere with their normal functioning. We inform individuals struggling with this problem that they are not alone in living with this phobia or intense fear. We provide these individuals with tools to help them overcome their fear and improve their daily functioning.
Our recommended websites
SHERBROOKE DATABASE OF COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS : http://www.ville.sherbrooke.qc.ca/fileadmin/fichiers/InfoSherbrookois/hiver2012/4-VieCommunautaireANG.pdf
THE CANADIAN MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION : http://www.cmha.ca/
ANXIETY BC : http://www.anxietybc.com/