Email   Password   Forget Password Sign Up

Coping with Anxiety

Definition: Anxiety is the body’s normal reaction to stress, associated with fear, panic, nervousness, apprehension, and/or worrying, and can change our emotions and feelings and affect how we behave.


Signs and Symptoms:

Anxiety can come in many forms. Sometimes anxiety is accompanied by an episode of intense panic, dread, or fear in which an individual may experience chest pain, shortness of breath, racing heart, dizziness, and/or stomach discomfort. Common mental, emotional and physical symptoms of anxiety include:


  • Excessive worry or obsessive thoughts (often about everyday things even if there is little or no reason)

  •  Difficulty relaxing

  •  Restlessness or feeling on edge 
  •  Fatigue 
  •  Difficulty concentrating; your mind "going blank" 
  •  Irritability 
  • Muscle tension or muscle aches 
  • Trembling, feeling twitchy or being easily startled 
  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Sweating, nausea or diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath or rapid heartbeat
  • Avoidance of activities as a means of reducing distress





  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)  


CBT is a psychological type of treatment for anxiety that utilizes behavioral research and cognitive functioning to challenge assumptions and thoughts and alter behaviors in a way that often provides results. Cognitive behavioral therapy seeks to sever the thoughts and behaviors that lead to anxiety and provide you with tools to relieve your troubling emotional reactions.


  • Psychotherapy 


While CBT often focuses on the present (although understanding the past does play a role), psychoanalysis focuses almost exclusively on the past, believing that most disorders are the result of problems with early childhood, and the relationships a person has with their mother/father.


  • Systemic Therapy


Systemic therapy is less well known, but has been growing in popularity over the last several decades. Unlike other forms of therapy that look at the individual on a personal level, systemic therapy believes that anxiety disorders are the result of a system of relationships that a person has with others.


  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)


EMDR is based on the theory that anxiety symptoms surface when traumatic experiences are inadequately stored in the brain, causing poorly processed psychological coping mechanisms. It focuses on the idea that if these memories are stored correctly, anxiety will be eliminated or reduced. Behaviors in EMDR therapy include moving the eyes from side to side, tapping on the body, and more. EMDR is unlikely to be beneficial for generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder, but may be beneficial as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety that results from some type of trauma.


  • Pharmacological/Medicinal Treatment

Some medications are very effective for short term anxiety relief. Most modern psychologists and researchers agree that no one should depend solely on pharmacological/medicinal treatments for anxiety. First, many drugs have side effects that make it unhealthy to take them for the rest of one’s life. Second, they don't teach coping strategies, and they can actually make it harder to cope in the future.


Coping Methods:


Outside of professional help, practicing good self-care can assist in effectively coping with anxiety. Effective self care includes:

  • Getting enough rest. 

  • Exercising. Engaging in regular physical exercise releases endorphins in the brain and can decrease anxiety.

  • Eating healthy. 
  • Spending time with friends or family. 
  • Avoiding drugs (including caffeine!) or alcohol. Though drugs and alcohol might provide temporary relief, they typically add to feelings of anxiety.
  • Focus on the positive aspects of your life and try not to dwell on negative aspects. 
  • Focus on your breathing. Make sure you are breathing deeply and slowly which will often help the body to slow down and relax. 
  • Take a shower. The reason we panic is because we perceive danger -- if you are taking a shower then you are sending signals to your brain that says "Hey, if I were REALLY in danger, I wouldn't be sitting here taking a shower, I'd be running or fighting to save my life." You're brain gets the message and the parasympathetic nervous system starts to take over --- and calm.





  1. National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center:  1-888-826-9438 
  2. Panic Disorder Information Hotline : 800-64-PANIC 
  3. National Mental Health Association: 1-800-969-6642




Anxiety in Canada



MEHEP website contains general information and should not be substituted for medical advise, diagnosis, treatment or referral services. MEHEP recommend that you seek knowledge, skill and judgment from a qualified psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians or health care provider about your medical condition. MEHEP is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of the MEHEP website. MEHEP is not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised on any of the sites.

Unless otherwise stated, all information contained on the MEHEP website included but not limited to text, graphics, logos, button icons, images, audio and video clips are patent is proprietary to MEHEP. No image in part or whole can be reproduced without written permission from MEHEP