Anxiety is a feeling of worry or fear that won’t go away. It affects our thoughts, feelings, and actions. It becomes a problem when your daily living activities—like work, school, self-care, and socializing—are negatively impacted. Anxiety that seems uncontrollable or overwhelming, and doesn’t go away, may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder is not the same as stress. With an anxiety disorder, the symptoms are extreme and don’t go away once the stress is over.
It’s important to know that you don’t need to suffer. Some people find they're able to manage the symptoms of their anxiety disorder by stress management, relaxation techniques, exercise, and getting enough sleep. Professional help includes cognitive behavioural therapy, exposure therapy, and medication.
What is normal?
Everyone experiences anxiety at times in their life, especially when life gets stressful. It’s normal for people to feel anxious if they’re in a dangerous situation, or before events like public speaking or an interview. But too much anxiety that doesn’t let up, and that interferes with your day-to-day activities, could be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
What are common signs and symptoms?
If you’ve experienced some of the signs below, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder:
- Constantly tense, worried, irritable, or on edge
- Anxiety interferes with your work, school, or family responsibilities
- Bothered by fears that you know are irrational, but can’t shake
- Believing that something bad will happen if things aren’t done a certain way
- Avoiding everyday situations or activities because they cause you anxiety
- Sudden, unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic
- Feeling like danger and catastrophe are around every corner
But anxiety is more than just a feeling. It also comes with physical symptoms:
- Pounding heart
- Stomach upset
- Frequent urination or diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle tension or twitches
- Shaking or trembling
Should I seek help?
Some anxiety is normal, but see your doctor if you feel like you're worrying too much, if it's interfering with your school, work, or relationships, if you feel depressed or irritable, have trouble with using alcohol or drugs, or you have other mental health concerns along with anxiety.
If you have suicidal thoughts or behaviours, seek emergency treatment immediately—call 911 or the Nova Scotia Mental Health Crisis line at 1-888-429-8167.
Your worries are not likely to go away on their own, and they could actually get worse. Anxiety may be easier to treat early on, so get professional help before your anxiety becomes severe.
Wellness Together Canada
Wellness Together Canada is a mental health and substance use website to support people across Canada and Canadians living abroad in both official languages. They provide the following resources for you at no cost:
Well Central & Well-being Course
Well Central is an accessible and completely free virtual Recovery College offering interactive courses that empower individuals to take control of their mental health and well-being.
Discover tools to help support your mental health efforts in creating a space where workers feel safe, respected, and valued.
Mental Health 101
Knowledge is power. This series of free online tutorials is a starting point for learning about mental health. You can come away with a greater understanding of the mental health concern you are interested in knowing more about.
Psychological First Aid pocket guide
This exciting program option teaches everyone how to help others experiencing loss, grief and stress, and also self-care.
Is anxiety getting in the way of your life?
Antidepressant Skills at Work
A self-care guide that teaches employees skills for managing depression and low mood. It utilizes established cognitive-behavioural techniques with a specific focus on workplace issues.
WalkAlong isn't your typical mental health website, it is a community where young Canadians can explore their mental health amongst their peers.
We can all take actions to improve our ‘mood’ or mental wellness. The Mood Meter is a creative way for you to think about how you are feeling and what actions you can take to improve your mental wellness.
The 30 Day Mindfulness Challenge teaches you how to lower stress, increase resilience and improve well-being, performance and optimism so you can become more present at work, out in the community, or with friends and family.
Therapy Assistance Online (TAO)
Online library of engaging, interactive programs to learn life skills and to help you bounce back from disappointments or stumbling blocks in life.
ICAN (Conquer Anxiety and Nervousness)
The Adult ICAN (Conquer Anxiety and Nervousness) Anxiety program (ages 18+) is designed to help you learn skills to control, face and deal with your anxiety. You will learn skills to use daily, to help you overcome your anxiety and deal with major...
Strongest Families Institute - Child, Youth and Parent
Strongest Families Institute (SFI) offers evidence-based, bilingual mental health services for children/youth and their families, when and where they need it.
SFI’s scientifically proven distance-delivered services improve mental health and well...
IWK Mental Health and Addictions Program
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Canadian Mental Health Association - Colchester East Hants Branch
The Canadian Mental Health Association, Colchester East Hants Branch provides public education, advocacy, and a resource center to support the resiliency and recovery of...
Canadian Mental Health Association - Halifax-Dartmouth Branch
The Canadian Mental Health Association, Halifax-Dartmouth Branch works at the community level and facilitates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve...
Canadian Mental Health Association - Nova Scotia Division
Canadian Mental Health Associations in Nova Scotia are the oldest community-based mental health and addictions charitable organizations in the province, founded in 1908. The...
Laing House, located in Halifax, is a drop-in centre for youth aged 16 – 29 living with mental health illness and/or challenges. Based on peer support, youth can meet friends...
Healthy Minds Cooperative
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Hope for Wellness HelpLine
The Hope for Wellness HelpLine offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada. Experienced and culturally competent...
Eskasoni Mental Health
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Caregivers Nova Scotia
Caregivers Nova Scotia provides free programs, services, information, and advocacy for family and friend caregivers. We are dedicated to providing recognition and practical assistance to friends and family giving care.
Kids Help Phone
Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only 24/7, national support service. We offer professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer-led, text-based support to young...
211 is a free, confidential information and referral service that can connect you to thousands of programs and services offered by local community groups, nonprofits and government departments across Nova Scotia, 24/7.
Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services - Mental Health Programs and Services
Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) is responsible for administering Non-Public Property (NPP) on behalf of the Chief of the Defence Staff and for delivering...
Veterans Affairs Canada Assitance Service
Veterans Affairs provide targeted services and benefits to improve well-being including support and services related to your physical and mental health and wellness.The VAC...
Geriatric Psychiatry Acute Inpatient Unit
The Geriatric Psychiatry Acute Inpatient Unit is for individuals over the age of 65 with a new onset of mental illness or for individuals of any age with dementia and complicated medical and/or psychological symptoms.
Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Program
Seniors mental health services provide assessment, consultation and treatments to:
- seniors aged 65 and older for a new onset of mental health challenges
- individuals of...
Mental Health Day Treatment Program
The Mental Health Day Treatment Program is a full-time, six week intensive group psychotherapy program. The program is for individuals with mental illness who also have long...
First Responders Assist
This service will offer short-term counselling and supportive services, including follow up if needed, for first responders and their families impacted by the tragedies of...
Adult Neurodevelopmental Stabilization Unit - Dual Diagnosis Program (Intellectual Disability in combination with Mental Illness)
The Adult Neurodevelopmental Stabilization Unit (ANSU) is an acute care unit that provides services for persons with intellectual disability and acute mental illness that...
Community Outreach Assessment Support and Treatment Team (COAST) - Dual Diagnosis Program (Intellectual Disability in combination with Mental Illness)
The community outreach assessment support and treatment team provides services for persons with both intellectual disability and also mental illness. These services include:...
Seniors Mental Health Services
Seniors mental health services provide assessment, consultation and treatments to:
- seniors aged 65 and older for a new onset of mental health challenges;
- individuals of...
School Mental Health (SchoolsPlus)
The school mental health clinicians provide individual and group therapy, mental health and addictions education for school staff and consultation services. Clinicians are on...
Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinic
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Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line
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First Nations Services
Mental Health clinicians work as part of the first nations health care team in several first nations communities. The Mental Health Clinician provides assessment, diagnosis...
Crossroads Cape Breton is community organized to support people living with mental illness in reclaiming and enhancing their lives. People are referred to as “members” because...
Adult Community Mental Health and Addictions Services
Community Mental Health and Addictions includes a team of mental health and addictions professionals who provide services on an outpatient basis. The team provides assessment...
Child and Adolescent Services
Child and Adolescent Services/Child Youth and Family/Child and Adolescent Outpatient Clinical Services provide mental health and addiction services to children and youth...
CaperBase Outreach Services
CaperBase is a one-stop shop resource centre for youth up to age 24.
We work with youth, families, schools, and community organizations to provide a safe, youth-friendly space that is confidential and non-judgmental.