A common occurrence for individuals with anxiety, especially those who experience panic attacks, is to go to the hospital emergency room, thinking they are having a heart attack. In the past, the majority of individuals were told they had nothing wrong with them, or to “go home, have a rest and you’ll be O.K. in the morning”. This experience often increases a person’s sense of shame about their symptoms and decreases the likelihood that they would seek support in the future. However, knowledge about anxiety conditions is increasing and, unlike in the past, individuals who attend the emergency room are often referred to their family physician and informed that they are likely suffering from an anxiety condition.
Today, most people who experience an anxiety condition go to their family physician as a first step.
- Family physicians often refer individuals to psychiatrists for the treatment and management of their anxiety conditions. Psychiatrists, like physicians, can prescribe medication, and more often use a combination of medication and ‘talk therapy’, which can include psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral interventions or other techniques. Psychiatrists will also in some circumstances hospitalize persons with severe anxiety symptoms.
- Some people choose to see a psychologist, counselor, social worker or to attend an anxiety medical treatment center.
- People often seek help from organizations like the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Canadian Center for Addiction and Mental Health. These associations can direct people to individual practitioners, especially social and community health workers and psychologists.
- Some people will phone mental health help lines, like the Ottawa Distress Center, and crisis units often located out of universities, or as a part of a university initiative in conjunction with a faculty of psychology.
- People will seek advice or help from community based organizations as well as provincial anxiety associations. These groups can provide referral services, suggest other groups and information to go to, or provide their own form of support programs and services.
- Increasingly people are going outside of conventional medical and clinical health care systems and adopting and using Complementary Alternate Medicine (C.A.M.) and holistic approaches.
- People also look for social and personal support from other people who have suffered from an anxiety condition, as well as from their friends and family. They can look for this support in the form of self-help groups and networks, through Internet communities and self help sites. This is becoming increasingly important, as feeling that you are not alone is a large part of the difficulties faced by those with anxiety conditions.
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